Confession Isn’t Just Good For The Soul.
“But I confess my sins; I am deeply sorry for what I have done.” – Psalms 38:18 NLT
In Psalm 38 David talks openly about the effects of his own sin. He describes the suffering, the sorrow, and the pain he is undergoing. And he acknowledges that what he is experiencing is the result of his sin and the rebuke of God. “Because of your anger, my whole body is sick; my health is broken because of my sins. My guilt overwhelms me — it is a burden too heavy to bear” (Psalms 38:3-4 NLT). David doesn’t tell us what he has done, but he fully believes that his sin and God’s anger over it are the cause for his distress. Now while this Psalm does NOT teach that all suffering is the result of our sins, it does make clear that sin has consequences, sometimes very harsh consequences. David’s suffering is real. “I am exhausted and completely crushed. My groans come from an anguished heart” (Psalms 38:8 NLT). “I am on the verge of collapse, facing constant pain” (Psalms 38:17 NLT). He is racked with pain and guilt. He longs for release and relief. So what does he do? He confesses his sin before God. He admits what he has done before the one against whom he has sinned. He simply agrees with God that his guilt is justified because his sin is real. David knows that confession is the key to restoration – both physically and spiritually. But his confession is more than just an admission of guilt. It is accompanied by sorrow for having sinned against God. “But I confess my sins; I am deeply sorry for what I have done” (Psalms 38:18 NLT). The actual word used there can be translated “concerned, worried, or anxious.” David wasn’t just sorry, he was literally bothered by what he had done. His own sin had made him uncomfortable. It had internal as well as external consequences.
So often, it seems that our sins fail to bother us. We can appear unconcerned about what we have done to offend a holy God, and suffer anxiety over the results of our sin, but not over the sin itself. But David was bothered by his sin. It disturbed him. It is only when our sin begins to worry and concern us that we truly confess it to God. Confession is not a magic elixir we drink or incantation we speak that mysteriously reverses the negative conditions we face. It is an honest acknowledgment of our own guilt and culpability. It is a point we reach when our sin bothers us as much as it does God. Our own sin concerns us and we become repulsed by it enough to confess it before God. The word “confess” simply means to make known, declare, or acknowledge. It’s to verbally declare before God what you have done to offend Him. It is to put into words what you have done and take ownership of it. David knew that confession was the key to his restoration and he was willing to wait on God to receive it. “For I am waiting for you, O LORD. You must answer for me, O Lord my God” (Psalms 38:15 NLT). But why is it so hard for us to confess? What is it about our sin that makes it difficult for us to simply admit it? Could it be that our sin doesn’t really concern or bother us? Have we learned to rationalize our behavior and minimize our own sin? Confession is good for the soul, but according to David, it was good for a lot more than that. Many of us suffer because we refuse to confess. And we refuse to confess because we aren’t really bothered by our sin.
Father, don’t let me focus on the consequences of my sin, but on the sin itself. Let it bother me. May I truly be sorry for my sin because I realize the damage that it brings into my life and the lives of others. Forgive me for the many times I want to minimize it and rationalize it away. May I learn like David to feel sorrow over it and turn that sorrow into an open confession before You. You want to restore. You desire to bring healing and forgiveness. But it has to begin with confession. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men