Psalm 32:5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord”—
and you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
This verse is one of the most important that David ever wrote, and he wrote a lot! He had discovered the same principle that John wrote so memorably: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) David did not know of the birth, life, and atoning death of Jesus (though he prophesied the crucifixion in amazing detail in Psalm 22) but he had discovered that repentant confession brings forgiveness. The Catholic Church institutionalized confession, which wasn’t necessarily bad in itself, but by formalizing it in a number of ways it removed much of the sincerity for a lot of people. Without repentance, confession can be bragging! Sometimes we do need to confess our sins to our brothers and sisters in Christ, (James 6:16) but that is certainly not limited to priests. We need to confess first of all to God, and then to people as He directs. When we have sinned against a particular person or group, often we need to confess to them, but sometimes the confession will do more harm than good, so we need wisdom. That said, many of the major revivals in human history have at least started with open confession of sins. Revivals in China, Wales, and America immediately come to mind. God responds to genuine repentance, and we must never forget that.
One of the biggest benefits of being raised by a father who had absolute honesty as a foundational principle was that honesty before God has always seemed to be a given for me. I’ve always known I couldn’t fool God. That doesn’t mean I haven’t managed to fool myself! However, when I have come to my senses, talking to God about what I have done has come easily. The danger there lies in taking it lightly, which I must never do, because sin is sin, and must be dealt with in genuine repentance. That doesn’t mean that confessing sin to others has been easy! Since I know that God already knows everything I do it’s not hard to confess to Him, but in my humanity I fear the reaction of people. However, I have found that those who matter think more of me for my honesty, and those who think less don’t really matter. I am coming around to Paul’s position on that point, expressed in 1 Corinthians 4:1-5. Any time the Holy Spirit shines His light on an issue in my heart or actions I need to confess it immediately to God and then, as He directs, to others.
Father, there are no words to thank You enough for Your forgiveness. Thank You for loving us so much as to send Your Son to die for us. Thank You that He intercedes for us as one who has been through the same temptations and so can identify with us, even though He didn’t yield to the temptations. Help me be more effective in sharing the marvelous truth that forgiveness is available, so that more and more may repent and believe, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!