All Christians who take honest spiritual inventories are cognizant of personal sin. We know God hates sin and thus are unnerved over our own iniquities. So Christians continually confess their sin.
The daily forgiveness Jesus taught us to pray for is a familial forgiveness. It is the remedy for God’s fatherly displeasure when we sin (Hebrews 12:5-11). As long as we live in a sinful world, with our sinful tendencies, Christians need daily cleansing from the defiling influence of our sin… the forgiveness we seek in our daily walk is not pardon from an angry Judge (justification – which we have), but mercy from a grieved Father.
True confession of sin is not just admitting you did something wrong, but acknowledging that your sin was against God and in defiance of Him personally. True confession also involves a penitent attitude – turning away from the evil thought or action. You have not honestly confessed your sins until you have longed to be rid of them. Thus real confession includes a brokenness that inevitably leads to a change of behaviour.
The Purpose Of Confession
Confession is a healthy beginning for prayer because it provides a reminder that we do not deserve anything God gives us. A materialistic perspective on prayer gets eliminated when we go before God with the brokenness and the contrite heart of people who confess their sins. When we affirm with God that we deserve nothing, we end any self-centeredness in our prayers.
A second reason for confessing sin is this: When any believer confesses his sin, God can chasten (discipline) him without being thought of as unfair. If He chastens us because of our sin, we know we deserve the correction.
The Elements of Confession:
- A Right View Of Sin – A right view of sin is the recognition that sin deserves judgement. A right view of sin also recognizes an urgent need for cleansing. Sin leaves a deep stain, and only a total cleansing will suffice. Just as Christ stooped to wash the disciples’ feet, we need to allow Him to cleanse us from the dirt of the world every day. Another crucial part of having a right view of sin is accepting full responsibility for it. A right view of sin also recognizes that we sin because it is in our nature to do so. Sin is not an anomaly, nor could we stop sinning even if we wanted to. We are sinful at the very core of our humanity.
- A Right View Of God – God’s holiness: (Psalm 51:6) God is not concerned with external behaviour but with the thoughts and motives of our hearts. God’s authority over sin: (Psalm 51:7) God can and will change your sinful habits, but He requires your trust in His authority over the powers of evil. God’s mercy: (Psalm 51:9) God has the power and desire to pardon sin in those who exhibit genuine repentance.
- A Right View Of Self – We are to live godly lives/turn from sin if we want to be used by God to convert sinners to Him. We are to live godly lives for the sake of God Himself. And we must be holy for the sake of the saints.
A Prayer Of Charles Spurgeon:
We might well start away and flee from Thy face if we only remembered our sinfulness. Lord! we do remember it with shame and sorrow; we are grieved to think we should have offended Thee, should have neglected so long Thy sweet love and tender mercy; but we have now returned unto the “shepherd and bishop of [our] souls” (1 Peter 2:25). Led by such grace, we look to Him whom we crucified, and we have mourned for Him and then have mourned for our sin. Now, Lord, we confess our guilt before Thee with tenderness of heart, and we pray Thee seal home to every believer that full and free, that perfect and irreversible charter of forgiveness which Thou gavest to all them that put their trust in Jesus Christ. We bless that glorious one who hath come “to finish transgression, and to make an end of sins” (Daniel 9:24), to bring in everlasting righteousness, which righteousness by faith we take unto ourselves and Thou dost impute unto us.
Scripture verses mentioned:
Hebrews 12:5-11 - And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Psalm 51:6 - Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.
Psalm 51:7 - Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Psalm 51:9 - Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.