Confession involves honestly agreeing with God about the way things really are.
When I was a teenager, my pastor used to say, “Remember, God forgives sins, not excuses.” In spite of this fact, I find that I am tempted to try to place the most positive spin on my motives and actions. I’ll admit that I “missed the mark,” but I want God to see these failures in the context of a generally good performance. I end up having to confess what a lousy job I do at confession. When I am honest, I am horrified at how hard it is for me to be honest in this vital aspect of prayer.
It helps to remember that the purpose of confession is not to inform God of things that may have missed His notice. He is aware not only of everything we do, but of everything we think, feel and say. There is no aspect of our lives hidden from His sight. It is ludicrous for us to hold back from telling God the truth about ourselves. We need to be ruthlessly honest.
Because God wants to help us come to grips with the truth about ourselves, He requires confession. Consider the patience with which He confronted our first parents when they had sinned in the Garden of Eden.
“But the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’
He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.’
And he said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?’
The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me–she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’
Then the LORD God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’”
It is not as if the omniscient God did not know the answers to the questions He was asking of Adam and Eve. But, He graciously coaxes the truth out of Adam and Eve so that they will no longer try to hide from His presence. God is still at work today when we pray, tenderly encouraging us to face the truth about our sin so that we will be prepared to receive the gracious forgiveness and cleansing, which we desperately need.
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