If you’re like me that are times when you pray, but hear nothing; read the Bible, but get nothing out of it; go to church, but experienced nothing; seek the presence of God, yet he seems distant.
The reason, at least for me, is a simple yet profound truth: Confession precedes worship. Communion with God is preceded by confession before God. God is a holy God and anyone coming into his presence must rid himself of sin. God has never demanded perfection, but he has expected honesty. And, if I wanted to engage his presence, I had to come out of hiding to acknowledge my sin.
God despises sin and God deals with sin. Before engaging in authentic worship, there had to be honest hearts. Before celebration comes confession. Holiness precedes happiness.
Confession is being honest about who we are.
To confess means to admit or concede. It involves stripping away layers of disguise to expose what is really at the center of who we are. Confession is the discipline of making an honest appraisal of ourselves.
Honest appraisals aren’t very fun, but they are very revealing.
Confession begins with God.
We need to view sin as God views it. God doesn’t measure our sin against someone else. God sees sin as a rebellion against his authority, as despising his Person, and as defiance of his law. W. S. Plummer said, “We never see sin aright until we see it as against God. . . . All sin is against God in this sense: that it is his law that is broken, his authority that is despised, his government that is set at naught. . . .” It is not the size of the sin but the majesty and holiness of God that makes our sin so grievous in his sight.
Such a view leads one to honest confession.
Confession prepares the soul for the seed of God’s presence.
Confession is like preparing the ground for a planting a crop. Think of your soul as soil. God’s presence is the seed. Confession is removing the debris of sin so the presence of God can grow.
The big sins are easy to see, but hard to move. It is the bad habit that is hard to break. The unlovely attitude that goes down deep in our conscience. The hurtful actions that have been repeated so often that it is engrained in the fiber of the flesh. The addiction that controls the body. The smaller sins are easier to move but take a lot longer. The unkind word. The lying. The cheating. The gossiping. The gluttony.
Confession becomes the bridge over which we can walk back into the presence of God.
Remember Adam and Eve. The first man and woman enjoyed constant communion with God. They were without sin and without shame. Then they ate the fruit and sin entered the world. First, they covered their bodies. Their nakedness no longer brought freedom but fear. Next, they hid in the bushes when God came near. Their rebellion left them ashamed and scared to face him. Their relationship was broken.
When God asked, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9 NIV). It was not for his benefit, but theirs. His question was not geographical, but relational. God knew exactly where they were.
Sin erects a fence while confession builds a bridge. Those who keep secrets from God keep their distance from God. Those who are honest with God draw near to God.
God wanted to find Adam and Eve, and you and me. No one desires to stay hidden. No one person can have contentment when secret sin is hidden in the recesses of his or her heart.
Confession liberates us from the guilt of sin.
Confession admits wrong and seeks forgiveness and grants freedom. It releases us from the burden of sin. It frees us. It liberates to a new life.