Wednesday, 01 June 2011
Psalm 103 tells us that the Lord is slow to anger and abounding in love. He does not harbor his anger forever. He does not treat us as our sins deserve or strike us with harsh punishment fitting of the crime we committed. As high as the heavens are above the earth, that's how great his love is for those who fear him. When we confess our sins, he throws them as far as the east is from the west and he remembers them no more.
What does it mean to confess your sins? Have you ever thought about what "confession" means? I heard Greg Laurie put it this way: To confess your sins means that you agree with the person that you wronged. So when you ask someone's forgiveness, you agree with that person that what you did to them was wrong. This is not the same thing as agreeing that they think what you did was wrong. You know that what you did was wrong.
In this video, two girls are caught stealing money and they're going to pay the consequences. One thief tries to say she's sorry for what she did (at 1:08 in the video), but she's not really sorry. She doesn't think what she did was wrong. Her apology is just a platitude -- not a confession or asking for forgiveness. She agrees with neither the law that says you shouldn't steal nor the person she wronged that she did anything wrong. She might be admitting that she took the money, but this isn't the same as confessing that she did something wrong.
When we confess our sins to God, we are agreeing with God that what we did was wrong. Our opinion of right and wrong doesn't matter. God's opinion matters. This isn't a battle of wills. The confession of our sins means that we look through God's eyes -- through His lens -- and see that what we have done is wrong. It is agreeing with God that we have sinned.
The Bible is clear that God will not bless those that hide their sins. We are told that God does not even hear the prayers of those who are living in sin (Psalm 66, notably verse 18). We are called to confess our sins to each other (James 5:16) and seek forgiveness from those we have wronged and from the Lord. If we confess our sins, the Bible promises we are forgiven and purified (1 John 1:9)
Anyone who is not a Christian refuses to follow God because they do not agree that what they have done is wrong. A person can say they don't believe in God, but the reason they don't believe has nothing to do with evidence and everything to do with selfishness. They simply do not want to admit they're wrong.
At the same time, a person can say they believe in God, but they don't confess their sin. The Bible calls them liars (1 John 2:4). Jesus Christ is the only atoning sacrifice for our sins. Whoever believes Jesus is Lord will be saved (Romans 10:9). Anyone who believes they have not sinned has no need for Christ, and they are not saved.
It is not enough that we simply admit what we've done. We must confess our sins -- agreeing with a holy God that what we have done is wrong, and only by his grace and forgiveness, by the atoning sacrifice of His Son, might we be saved. This is what confession means. When we have done that, sincerely and in truth, we will be forgiven. Our sins will be thrown as far as the east is from the west, and in the scope of our eternal existence, they will be remembered no more.
Psalm 79:9 "Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name's sake."
What does confession mean to you? How difficult is it? Do you have something you need to confess?