Confession isn’t one of our favorite things to do. But there are times when we step over the line as we walk with Christ. How do we deal with the sin that may happen in our lives? I’ve talked a lot about the difference between continuous and momentary sins.
David enjoyed a special place in God’s heart. But when he sinned, he really sinned. It all started with lusting, then adultery, then conspiracy to murder a friend. And he suffered the consequences of his sin when Bathsheba became pregnant and the baby died because of his sin.
David knew how to mourn. He knew what it meant to have sorrowful repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10). There are a lot of lessons we can learn from him. But he also gave us a spectacular approach to confessing our sin before the Lord.
As we consider this prayer model of confession, a few things will be different from David’s situation. If you are reading this blog post and are the king of a country, then every part of this Psalm will apply to you. But for most of us, some things in our lives are a bit different from his.
So let’s dive in to the first step of confession, a healthy understanding of the cost of our sin and God’s great mercy. David starts right off the bat by talking about God’s mercy and the depth of his depravity (Psalm 51:1-6).
No Christian who commits a momentary sin is depraved. We have been bought by the blood of Jesus. But our sin still deserves confession. It is part of the road to God’s forgiveness as we continue to walk with Jesus.
If we don’t have a healthy understanding of what sin does to our relationship with God and others, we will see no need for confession or forgiveness. But these are essential as we walk with Jesus. If we don’t address the momentary sin we may commit, we’ll become calloused toward sin. We’ll think there’s nothing wrong with it.
At some point will become too callous and harden our hearts against God. And that’s a road none of us wants to go down. I don’t know where the line is between sins God forgives and a callous heart that doesn’t care about my relationship with him anymore. But I don’t want to ever find out.
Mercy and Love
Let’s dive in to how David deals with his sin and how he begins his confession. If we sin against God we have no recourse on our own. Just as God saved us by his grace, so we must call upon his mercy in times of sin. We can’t fix it ourselves. We must rely on the mercy of God.
David knew this full well. So he begins by asking God to have mercy on him (Psalm 51:1). But he asked for God to have mercy not just because. David understood God gives mercy because he loves us and because he is a merciful God. These are two of his main attributes.
God grants his mercy to us because it is in his nature to be merciful to his children and to love us. John tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8; 16). And he gives his mercy because he is good to us. He doesn’t just grant mercy to anyone. We are in relationship with him as his children.
But I love the ways David describes God’s love and mercy. His steadfast love never quits on us. And his mercy is abundant. He has storehouses of mercy for his children who stumble along the path. God doesn’t beat us up for every mistake. He pours out his mercy and love instead!
The Weight of Sin
God’s love and mercy are available to anyone willing to confess their sin and get back on track. David uses terms like, “blot out,” “wash thoroughly,” and “cleanse” (Psalm 51:1b-2). There’s nothing like feeling pure and clean in the presence of the Lord. We know God’s presence fills us when we are clean.
David lingers for a moment and allows the weight of his sin to come crashing down on him. Like us, he knows that God is merciful and he forgives. I don’t think David wants to become callous in his heart. I think this is one of the reasons he had God’s ear and heart.
He wasn’t afraid to let God know how he felt about his sin. He was real, gritty, and authentic. He didn’t hide his sin or his shame from God. We don’t have to either. Don’t be afraid to linger over your sin for just a few moments as you pray for God to pour out his mercy on you.
David doesn’t push his sin away. He stares at it, as if it is standing right in front of him (Psalm 51:3). He takes time to realize how he has hurt others. But we must be careful not to dwell on it so much that we think God’s mercy is no longer available.
He especially focuses on his relationship with God. He knows that his sin has affected his relationship with God (Psalm 51:4). You may say that he went overboard. After all, he sinned against God. But he also sinned against Bathsheba and Uriah. And at first, he tried to get away with it.
He reminds himself that God doesn’t have to pour out his mercy or forgive (Psalm 51:4b). God is righteous and when we offend him with our sin, he doesn’t have to do anything. He is right and we are in the wrong. But he pours out his mercy anyway. God’s love for us never gets old.
When David talks about being brought forth in sin by his mother, he’s focusing on the fact that even after knowing God he still sins (Psalm 51:5). While we may have gotten an early start on sinning, we are now God’s children. God has given us new birth in him (John 1:12-13; 3:3, 5-8).
During this part of our prayer we may meditate and think about why we gave into sin. After all, as new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) we are dead to sin and alive to Christ (Romans 6:1-4; Ephesians 2:1-4). I believe that most of the time we allow temptation to catch us off guard because we do not renew our minds (Romans 12:1-2) and take our thoughts captive to Christ (2 oh 10:5).
As David meditates on his sinning and why he did it, he reminds himself that God delights in truth (Psalm 51:6). And he internalizes it. God is after our character, that we become more like him. We must be truthful with ourselves. We must get to the root issue of why we momentarily sinned.
We can’t fool God. The Holy Spirit dwells inside of us and he knows our heart condition. The Spirit occupies that secret place in us. And when we commit to him in confession he gives us wisdom and teaches us more about ourselves. It’s a special place in God’s presence that hurts to confess and feels good all at the same time.
In our prayers of confession, we thank God for his mercy and love. We allow ourselves to understand the depths of our sin and its effects on our relationships. Focus on God’s goodness and mercy, and why you stumbled in your walk with Christ. This will help us to not do it again. Trust that God is teaching you how to be open and genuine before him in the secret place of your soul.
Next time we will continue to look at how David confesses his sins to God. Leave a comment and discuss some of the things you do when you go to God in your prayer of confession?