• Devin O'Donnell

Confess your Sins

Updated: Feb 8, 2020

Why confess your sin? I have tried to answer to this question for our students in several ways. Because it puts us right with God. Because it puts us right with our neighbor. And because we’re simply told to do it: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16).

But I want to consider another aspect of confession: what it does for us. We might consider this the psychological aspect of confession. In Psalm 139, David says, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (23-24). Why does he say this, but to imply that he doesn’t completely know if he’s sinned? It is the meaning of a godly “conscience.”

So often we think we know our own feelings or that we know our own heart. But “the heart of man is deceitful above all things. Who can know it?” This reminds us that we need someone else to tell us who we are. Otherwise, we can quickly fall into simply confessing our sins when we feel like it. Or when we happen to feel bad about it. Regular confession cultivates a habit and an assumption that we don’t know ourselves as well as we might think.

Job even offers prayer and confession of behalf his children:

  • So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, "It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts." Thus Job did regularly. (Job 1:5)

John tells us, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). This is basically what confession accomplishes for us: it protects us from deceiving ourselves. It is medicine against self-deception. As a Christian school, these are the "liturgies" of our education. They don't just "inform." They also "form" students to know and love the Triune God, His Word, and His world.

Here's the agenda for today.

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