As a protestant believer, I do not present myself to God in confession quite as often as I should. I grew up and remain southern Baptist, which means that often times I am very clear on my shortcomings but forget to bring those to God in confession. I let the guilt sit and rest in my heart rather than bringing a confession to God, seeking his forgiveness, and acting in repentance.
Now, I bring my woes and lay them at the feet of Jesus as I’ve been taught, and I am contrite when I do things I shouldn’t be doing, but that doesn’t really qualify as a true confession, does it?
Please let me state the obvious: I am not a theologian. I am not a learned bible scholar. However, this Lent, I have pursued the meaning of confession and have been praying about the role it plays in my relationship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Here are some things that God has placed on my heart during this time:
Confession humbles me. Even though I try to comprehend just a sliver of the light that Jesus brings to this world and do my best to emulate it, I fail. Over and over again. And when I can get my actions in check, my heart quickly fails me. I have pursued forgiveness through confession with each ugly thought I have. And the number of times I have had to do this has humbled me. My heart is sicker than I imagined. Confession has humbled me because I realize the infinite grace of my father and I am humbled by the price that was paid for that grace.
Much of my misery likely comes from the lack of confession. Read what David has to say about confession:
When I kept silent, my bones grew old,
Through my groaning all the day long
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me … I acknowledged my sin to You and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord, “And you forgave the iniquity of my sin. " Psalm 32:2-5 NKJV
David grew tired of himself, his thoughts, his actions. All day long, he struggled and wrestled with his misery. When he acknowledged his sin, which was not hidden anyway, he was forgiven. The heavy hand of the Lord was lifted immediately and his groaning stopped. As I have taken on this journey, weights have been removed from my shoulders. Because, as with David, my sins were not against myself, but against God so admitting my sins to myself did nothing to lift the hand of God. As I ask God to reveal to the hidden parts of my heart that are hidden to me but certainly not him, I am again humbled, but redeemed in my confession through the forgiveness of my Father.
Confession is an act of community. James 5:16 instructs us to confess to one another and to prayer for one another so that we might be healed. Our souls need healing and when we can confess to each other – to other believers who would pray for us and not judge us – God listens and offers his presence where two come together in his name.
We will confess eventually - Isaiah 45:23
As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.
Paul repeats this in Romans and reminds us that we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Confession now prepares me for that the time I will give an account to him in person.
When is the last time you came to God in confession? If you were to write down all of your sinful actions or thoughts, is there a theme? Have you prayed for God to show you the hidden things of your heart? What steps will you take TODAY to repent?
Be prayerful. Take the remaining time of Lent to really think about the obstacles in your path to know Him better. Confess. Repent. Repeat.