Confessing

Psalm 32 speaks of the blessings of confessing our sins to God – and the negative effects of not doing so.

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
(Psalm 32:1-4 ESV)

We protestants sometimes have a slightly whacky view on confession – this isn’t something you need to just tell your pastor.  This is something you need to first confess to God, and then confess to anyone directly involved that you have sinned against.  This needs to be a regular thing happening in our relationships.  James 5:16 is a  key New Testament verse that sums this up well — “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”

Our sins need to be brought out into the light so that we can apply the work of Jesus to them – the forgiveness that he won for us on the cross with the sacrifice of his life as payment for our sins.  We cannot hide sin, it will destroy us – bring it out into the light where it can be forgiven and relationships can be healed!

Then, after confession comes repentance – we need to turn from sin and change.  The Bible speaks of putting off, renewing our minds, and putting on.  (Check out Eph 4:20-24 and Col 3:1-17)

We need to fight the Americanized Christian church culture that ignores sin – we all have it – we need to follow God’s word on what to do with it.  This is critical in marriages and parenting (yes, parents…we can sin against our kids. Confession and repentance is required!), but in all of our relationships.

That’s tough work, but good work – as the Psalmist ends:

Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.
Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
(Psalm 32:10-11 ESV)

Bed Repentance

It was one of those mornings where you are laying awake, perhaps the alarm has already gone off and you have it the snooze already. You know you need to get up…you start to think about stuff. Then conviction happens about something and you need to do something about it. You can (1) feel guilty and start your Monday off in a bad mood, not recommended, (2) ignore it, also not recommended, (3) try to motivate yourself into embracing your best life now and fill up your self-esteem tank – not recommended either, or (4) confess and repent and enjoy the grace of God in Jesus and move on.

My mind was in full “what’s next” mode and I was off and scheming, except I had left God completely out of it. I was thinking, planning, moving all in my own strength and my own wisdom. Then I read Psalm 21 this AM (after getting out of bed)…

O LORD, in your strength the king rejoices,
and in your salvation how greatly he exults!
You have given him his heart’s desire
and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah
For you meet him with rich blessings;
you set a crown of fine gold upon his head.
He asked life of you; you gave it to him,
length of days forever and ever.
His glory is great through your salvation;
splendor and majesty you bestow on him.
For you make him most blessed forever;
you make him glad with the joy of your presence.
For the king trusts in the LORD,
and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.
(Psalm 21:1-7 ESV)

David is rejoicing in God’s strength, not his. In God’s salvation, not his ability to save himself. He realizes that every good desire is from God and God has given him great things, he didn’t do it all on his own – including his very life and breath and health!

God’s greatest glory (v5) is demonstrated in his salvation that he offers us through the Messiah, Jesus. God is pleased to save sinners – 2 Peter 3:9 tells us that God doesn’t wish that anyone should perish, but wants all to come to repentance. Repentance is a big Bible word meaning to “change direction” – we do this first in faith in trusting God to save us in Jesus, but then a life of faith is started – as Luther said we then our whole lives are repentance. A daily turning from ourselves and turning to God. Redirecting our thoughts, words, actions to be God pleasing, not self-pleasing – to have the mindset of King David…sometimes this is required even before we get out of bed…

Repentance and Restoration – Job Part 3

Well, today…almost unexpectedly it seems we finish Job.

In the last few chapters of the book God continues to answer Job by reminding him of who God is – that nothing can compare to him and his knowledge and his strength…and that basically everything is because of him.   “Who has first given it to me, that I should repay him?  Whatever is under the whole earth is mine?”

In Chapter 42 Job practices a vital…critical…paramount…really really really important Christian discipline — confession and repentance.

This is not something we do once when we “accept Jesus into our hearts”  (gag) – we need to do this each and every day, as we sin each and every day and therefore we need to live in the power of the gospel each and every day.  I read from the Valley of Vision this morning and this one phrase caught me in it’s simplicity and accuracy: “My sin is not so much this or that particular evil, but my continual separation, disunion, distance from them, and having a loose spirit towards thee.”  Most of us aren’t going to go out today and lie or steal, but as much as those things are sins – God is also as much if not more interested in the states of our hearts.  Are they fully devoted to Christ?

Job began to have pride in his heart, began to question God. Yes he suffered tremendous tragedy, and in those moments it is very tempting to question God and think that we know better – but the bottom line is we don’t and he is God.  He loves us and is still sovereign.  Even in those moments, there is repentance that needs to happen which Job models for us here.

Job in 42 says “I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me which I did not know….therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

Now, don’t walk away from that thinking the Bible is telling us to despise ourselves. That word in the Hebrew can also be translated as “reject” so think of it as rejecting your own selfishness and pride.  You know…take up your cross, die to yourself?

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
(Matthew 16:24-25 ESV)

Confession and repentance is simply agreeing that you are headed down the wrong path and turning away from the direction you are going and turning towards God in Christ Jesus.

Mark Driscoll this week also spoke of repentance in his message “Jesus and Repentance.” If you can – throw this on your iPod and give this a listen.  It’s an hour – but it’s a great word.  I strongly encourage you to listen.  In there he noted that repentance requires 3 elements:

  1. Confession – owning up to the wrong and speaking it out loud. Use Biblical words, not man words.
  2. Contrition – there should be a sense of sadness or seriousness, never glib
  3. Change – there has to be a change brought about by the Holy Spirit as you stand before Christ and others with a pure heart and a sincere faith

Then we see God restore Job. Which makes me immediately think of  1 Peter 5:10 where God promises to restore us.  Now remember that may not mean physical material blessings, but it will always mean right standing before God and a return of the light and the weightless joy that only God can bring only in Christ.   Then turn to him in passionate WORSHIP!

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
(1 Peter 5:10 ESV)