I did something wrong first thing this morning. I knew it was wrong, but it wasn't a huge deal, it was a sin I often fall into, and it really only implicated me.

Or at least, this was my reasoning ...

However as I approached my "prayer closet" for my morning devotion, I felt a tiny bit of remorse. After all, how could I approach the Lord in prayer after having knowingly sinned against Him?

True enough, it wasn't really a big deal, but in God's eyes, sin is sin!

So I found myself confessing my sin to my Heavenly Father and asking for forgiveness.

His response?

There was none.

Hum. I didn't need to confess my sin for it to be forgiven, it was already forgiven at Calvary! So that sin was cleared up! There shouldn't have been anything interfering with my morning prayers! Why couldn't I hear God's voice? Why did I feel so far from Him?

And then I heard it: My conscience. That aggravatingly annoying little voice in my mind: "Are you truly sorry?"

Sorry! Why, yes! Or ... Maybe not ... Not really ... It didn't hurt anyone but me, and well, I'm big enough to get over it ...

Then it struck me. I was only confessing my sin because I thought I had to, not because I truly felt repentant!

I immediately repented, I gave the sin to God and told Him how sorry I truly was for having hurt Him and myself in this manner. Instantly I felt His peace descend upon me, and I was whisked into His presence.

I was then immediately directly to Ps. 51, the Psalm written by David after the prophet Nathan came to him after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba, and therein I found the steps to true confession. Let's take a look ...

1. The Psalm begins with a plea for God's mercy, and this is the first step in the confession of sin: "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love, according to your great compassion ..." (vs. 1a)

When we approach God in confession, isn't it beautiful that the first thing we can do is appeal to His unfailing love and great compassion? He doesn't mind! He loves it when we come to Him for help, and this opens the doors to ask for His forgiveness.

2. The second step is humility: "For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight . . . Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me ..." (vs. 3-4a, 5)

David freely admits he is a sinner and always has been, admitting that he has done evil in the sight of God. He then goes on to show humility in his request of God's cleansing: "Clean me with hyssop, and I will be clean' wash me, and I will be whiter than snow ... Hide Your face from my sin and blot out all my iniquity." (vs 7,9)

Remember, in order for us to request cleansing, we must first be humble enough to admit we are dirty! After all, what does David himself say? "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." (vs. 17)

3. The third step to confession is repentance: "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." (vs. 10-12)

Friends, confession isn't just about getting it off our chest and being forgiven so that we can feel free to return to our sin! Confession is about being truly sorry, so sorry that we don't WANT to commit it again!

Isn't this the kind of confession Jesus eluded to with the woman caught in sin? "And Jesus said to her, 'Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.'" (John 8:11 NKJV)

But like David of old, it isn't possible for us, by ourselves, to keep from returning to our sin. The secret is a pure heart, a steadfast spirit, a spirit that is willing to let God give us the strength we need to turn away from our sin. And this is the kind of repentance that David gives back to God.

So then, is that the last step to confession?

Not at all. Continuing with Ps. 51:

4. Praise: "My tongue will sing of Your righteousness. Open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise ..." (vs. 14a-15) The result of true confession is that we become a fountain of praise! Praise for the One who saved us from our sin!

5. Witnessing: "Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will turn back to You ..." (Vs. 13) The natural product of our forgiven hearts is that we will share of this good news with others.

Friends, the next time you are caught up in the clutches of sin, be it little ones or big ones (there is no gradation of sin in God's sight!), remember the steps to true confession, as outlined in Ps. 51: Appealing to God's mercy, humility of spirit, true repentance, and then praise and sharing with others of God's mercy!

In His love,

Lyn
 

Lyn Chaffart, Mother of two teens, Speech-Language Pathologist, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, www.scripturalnuggets.org, with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org.