Sin is a dirty word. We don't like to talk about it and we especially don't like to acknowledge that it may be a problem in our lives. So, we hide it or ignore it.
King David tried that for awhile and found it didn’t work. In his penitential psalms (34 and 51) written after his sin with Bathsheba and his cover-up that involved killing Uriah, he talks about guilt, need for mercy, fear of losing his anointing as God’s special servant, and having a broken spirit. He got to a point where he’d rather do almost anything than to carry around the guilt of his sin any longer. Let’s look at specific portions of Psalm 51, as he confesses to God:
First, he doesn’t minimize what he has done or how his actions and attitudes have separated him from God, and he pleads for mercy and for cleansing:
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin”
Then, though he has harmed Bathsheba, has had Uriah killed in battle, and has failed in his role as a spiritual leader of God’s people, he realizes that his true sin is against God alone and, though he has already asked for mercy, he says he will accept whatever judgment God metes out:
“Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.”
David’s goal: Holiness, forgiveness, and renewed relationship with God. The result, he prays, will be joy and a commitment to living life God’s way.
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
I think we all try to hide our sins at times, but confession comes easier as we begin to see our sin as God does:
He hates sin, but he loves us.
He's not surprised when we sin. He knows our frailties.
Our sin grieves God, partly because of how it damages us.
God is holy and cannot look on sin, so unconfessed sin is a barrier between us and God, between us and answered prayer, between us and the blessing God wants to give us (see Isaiah 59:1-2).
Maybe we should begin looking at our sin as David did - not as something to hide, but as something to be acknowledged, something from which we can be freed.
And we have an advantage David did not: Jesus. We know that all our sins – past, present, and future – have been paid for on the cross. Our repentance assures forgiveness and restoration, all offered through Jesus’ selfless sacrifice for us. Confession restores relationship with God (and often with others), our prayers are heard, and our life is blessed.
Confession is not a bad word. It is a cleansing, restorative word - something we should not turn from, but should run toward. It's like a nice, warm shower!
"Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace." - Jerry Bridges