Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pilgrim's Regress, Part 2 "Complicatingly Simple and Seriously Honest Confession"

Here is the second submission for what I have labeled "Pilgrim's Regress". The idea for this came out of my own struggles with my 'indwelling sin' or 'remaining sin'. Because of this I assure you that I am preaching to myself.


[1]Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are
[2]Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
and in
whose spirit there is no deceit.

[3]For when I kept silent my
bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
[4]For day and night
Your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as by the heat of the

David's glorious opening lines give our context for the entire psalm: sin and its forgiveness. Before he gives his testimony and instruction he trumpets the blessedness of God releasing one from the burden and guilt of sin. Words that Paul would later quote as he argued for faith in Christ as the means by which one is justified from sin before God.

Then in verse 3 begins David's testimony. The testimony of a time when the fullness of God's forgivness had yet to reach him. Why is this the case? Why are his "bones wast[ing] away"? Why is he 'groaning all day long"? Why is his "strength sapped as by the heat of the summer"? What is the sovereign hand of God squeezing out of him that it is "heavy upon him"?

Notice the first words of verse 3, "For when I kept silent". There is something he is not speaking that is causing groaning and bones to waste away and strength to be sapped. Through David's grief God is going to wrench words out of this man's heart to his lips that will bring life to his soul, harmony to his relationship with God, and forgiveness for his sins.

Verse 5: "Then I acknowledge my transgressions and I did not cover my
iniquity. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,' and you
forgave the iniquity of my sin."

Bada bing. There it is. He confessed. He "acknowledged [his] transgressions." He "did not cover [his] iniquity." He "poured out his heart to [God]."(Psalm 62:8) He "cast all [his] anxiety on the Lord."(1 Peter 5:7) And there are so many other terms and phrases to capture that which is simple and honest: confession.

"I acknowledged my transgression" - Simple
"I mean that is it? Really?"

Really. He acknowledges his transgression. He says, " I know I have transgressed against You, God. I know there is blood on my hands, I know there is lust in my heart, I know there are idols I am bowed to, I know there are addictions I feed on, and I know it is all against Your law."
Acknowledgement is the opposite of what Adam does when God comes to him after the fall.

[11]And God said, 'Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?' [12]The man said, 'The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.'" Gen 3:11-12

The first man would not simply acknowledge his disobedience, and we fail today still.

I must go on a tangent and mention that just because confession is simple does not mean it is simply done or it has simple effects.

Obviously it is not simply done. Adam struggled with it, David struggled with it, and I struggle with it. And look at the length by which God goes to bring this confession out of David. He is ripping this man up to lead him to confession.

Nor, is confession just a breathing out of some words along the lines of "Yes, I am a sinner." There is a broken heart that these words flow out of and there is a transformed heart that follows.

Therefore, I submit and end the tangent by saying confession is a simple expression from a complex, powerful work of God that wroughts deeper faith and desperate repentance. It is simple, it is not simple.

"I did not cover my iniquity" - Honest
David's words testify that before his confession he did attempt to cover his iniquity. Our first parents are again a witness that this is our sinful tendency and bad 'strategery' as well.

"Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden." Gen 3:8
I mean really, what a couple of goobers this couple is. Seriously? Hide from God? However, this is the same way David handled his failure to confess, and the same way I do often.

Anyone with any kind of belief in God surely will not deny that God knows when we have sinned, and if one believes the Bible with any conviction then surely he would agree with Moses, "You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of Your presences." Psam 90:8 All too often, however, this is not how I respond when I stumble into sin. I like, David and Adam, cover my iniquity and suffer much in communing with God. (I am not saying that we stop communing with God if we are true Christians, we just suffer while we do.)

So, may we with psalmist from Psalm 103 freely cry out "[23]Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. [24]See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting."

To help us in confessing our sin God has given us some wonderful examples from His word Daniel 9 and Psalm 51 are accounts of two men ridiculously close to God who are seriously lifting up there hearts and crying out for mercy and repentance. The rest of Psalm 32 is also wonderfully helpful to find instruction from.

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