Honest Confession

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As much as we try to be honest with people around us, most of us learn the hard way that it’s risky business. When the burdens of failures become too great, we tell someone. And what happens? All too often, they betray us.

One of the most wonderful assurances God gives us is that He will never betray us—no matter what we tell Him. As the opening of Psalm 32 puts it, “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven . . . and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” The believer who has no secrets that he tries to hide from God will be “blessed.” Why is this so?

Burden

The psalmist first explains himself by recounting the burden he bore when he was not forthcoming with God.  “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning … my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer” (vv. 3–4). That’s how it is for every person who knows Christ. We can harden our hearts for a time, but eventually guilt becomes a heavy burden.

Now, many unbelievers dismiss guilt as little more than poor social conditioning. And even many well-meaning Christians dismiss it as bad theology, not understanding the love and grace of God. But notice how the psalmist understood it. “Your hand was heavy upon me” (v. 4). When the Spirit of God brings the burden of sin into our lives, it is not to be dismissed as misguided social conditioning nor as bad theology. It is an act of God, a painful act of God to be sure, but a burden that God Himself causes.

Forgiveness

So, what are we to do when God’s hand comes on us in this way? The psalmist tells us from his own experience. “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ ” (v. 5). Rather than dismissing his guilt, he confessed it.

We often don’t tell others about our failures because we don’t want them to know. But God already knows. So, why pretend that He doesn’t? We don’t tell others about our guilt because we fear their condemnation. But the psalmist proclaimed that God’s reaction is just the opposite: “You forgave the iniquity of my sin” (v. 5). Herein lies the grace of God. Not that He wants us to have no guilt; rather, He wants us to experience the relief of knowing that we have received His forgiveness through confession.

Advice

“Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found” (v. 6). We should be eager to tell God about our failures. And what will be the result if we do? As the end of verse 6 puts it, “the rush of great waters shall not reach him.” No burden or challenge in life will overwhelm us when we have confessed our sins and experience God’s forgiveness. When He is for us, nothing can stand against us.

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.