Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Confession

Part 2 of 4: The Lord's Prayer

Steven Lang, author of The Book of God's Promises, writes, "Confession is good for the soul" -- so says the old cliche. Like many cliches, it has the virtue of being true. For the Christian, confession is not an option. We sin, and we confess, and our life with God goes on. It can't be otherwise. Augustine, the great Christian teacher in the Roman empire, noted that "the confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works." People who cover over their sins will not prosper. But if they confess and forsake them, they will receive mercy."

Isaiah 59:1-2 tells us that our sins have separated us from God. "Your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear." When reading this, my heart hurts! At the same time, there is peace in reading this because I know Christ already died for my sins. His blood covered all the wrong I have ever done and will ever do.

One of the greatest stories of a redemption from sin is King David. This great man who was chosen by God committed lust, adultery, and murder. You can read the full story in 2 Samuel 11. In chapter 12, God sends Nathan to confront David about all he had done. Many times, confrontation such as this is hard to do, as well as receive. We do not want to hear the sin others see in our lives. At the same time, how awesome is it that fellow believers take the time to challenge us and walk the journey with us! This is exactly what Nathan did.

In Psalm 51, we read David's confession. Verses 6 and 16-17 tell us what God desires from us:

6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts;
you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.

God desires for us to be broken-hearted by the wrong we have done. To learn and grow in the mistakes we have made. I love David's writing: "a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart." Listing what we have done wrong and expecting God just to forgive us without truly regretting and changing is not what God desires.

In Psalm 32, David writes:

3 When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night
your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.

When we have sin in our lives that we don't confess before the Lord, it eats at us and our "bones waste away". We do not have the energy or the fight to move forward. But, the encouraging news is found in 1 John 1:9.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

In looking at the prayer acronym ACTS, confession comes at the perfect time. First, we spend time in adoration of God, praising his name and who he is. Then, we look at ourselves and the sin in our lives. After focusing on God first, we are more inclined to look at the wrong we have done!


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