The psalmist said, “When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.” Psalm 32:3-4 NLT
God went to great lengths to draw the psalmist into confession. The Message paraphrases the above verses like this: “When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans. The pressure never let up; all the juices of my life dried up.”
Why was God so hard on him? We learn the answer to this question later in the same psalm (32) when the psalmist can no longer stand his misery. “Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, ‘I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.’ And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.”
The relief was so great the psalmist said: “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!” The Amplified puts the second part this way: “Blessed is he who has forgiveness of his transgression continually exercised upon him, whose sin is covered.”
God knows this kind of joy results when we honestly confess and experience His beautiful forgiveness. He doesn’t want this joy to be something we only experience after committing “big” sins; He wants us to live in this kind of joy all the time. This simply isn’t possible when we think we’re “doing okay.” When we think of our sinfulness merely in terms of “big” sins and only engage in confession when we’ve “really messed up,” we become flat and joy-less. Confessional living requires that we walk daily in the light of God’s truth, allowing it to continually reveal our own selfishness, our hidden sins, and our lack of trust—those ongoing sins that are at our very core. I John 1:9 tells us, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
Confessional living requires humility, and we humans don’t generally like humility. We think it will make us unsure, sad, and weak. But that’s not true. When we walk in humility with the Lord, regularly asking the Holy Spirit to convict us and taking all that is revealed to the Lord, He continually purifies and heals us, and we live strong and free and joyously in Him.
Gideon is a perfect example of this (Judges 6-8). After Gideon turned from his “big” sin of idolatry, he still struggled with doubt and fear. He could have hidden this, but instead he regularly admitted it to God. He told God he simply couldn’t do the task God had called him to. He asked for first one sign, then another, then another.
You’d think God would have gotten tired of Gideon’s lack of faith and progress.
Not once does God rebuke Gideon for being fearful or for admitting his fear. Not once does God express frustration. Instead He shows his acceptance of Gideon just as he is. He reassures him again and again. He meets him in his fear. After God has answered all Gideon’s requests, He tells him, “If you’re afraid (and I know you are), I’ve arranged yet another sign for you down in the enemy camp. You can sneak down there at night. Just stay outside their tents. You’ll hear all you need to know. Oh, and, by the way, take your servant with you if you need a partner to bolster your courage.” (my paraphrase)
Gideon doesn’t protest. He follows God’s directions–and then he worships!
Gideon’s willingness to acknowledge his own faults makes him more aware of God’s greatness.
Then he is able to accept God’s power and peace and joy and go out to do battle in the Lord’s strength.
If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action]. I John 1:9 Amplified