God desires our freedom from sin so we can truly be his. Confession is the beginning of freedom, but itís more than just acknowledging a list of things weíve done wrong. We need to confess our rebellion against God, personally.
ďFinally, I confessed all my sins to you
and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
I said to myself, ĎI will confess my rebellion to the Lord.í
And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.Ē (Ps. 32:5, NLT)
Sin is deeply personal to God; he passionately wants to be Lord, Father and friend to us, but our defiant turning away replies, ďI donít believe you.Ē
So, in perfect love, he made a way for each of us to be restored to him through Jesusí life, death and resurrection. Yet until I face the truth that Iíve broken his heart, that Iíve refused his grace, that Iíve truly rejected his love, can restoration really happen? My confession has to come first. Can you imagine saying to your wife or husband or loved one whom youíve hurt, ďIím not going to admit I did anything wrong until after you forgive me.Ē Huh? Gibberish.
Could forgiveness be given without my confession, just like one-sided forgiveness between human beings? Sure, it could be given Ė but it could never be received. Thatís the key to the power of the gospel and the ďstumbling blockĒ to so many. Yes, Jesus died so everyone could be saved, but we must acknowledge the true nature of what weíve done and turn to him. Otherwise, we canít believe itís the only shot weíve got, and weíll keep trying more palatable, less demanding routes. And so the astounding gift, the very thing we all ache for, sits on the shelf in plain view while most briefly glance at it and limp on, with no idea how close they are to healing.
Forgiveness doesnít heal anyone until itís taken in, absorbed by the heart. There were undoubtedly numerous people Jesus did not heal while on earth. Like them, many today are either paralyzed by fear or are willing to suffer in a painful illusion rather than risk believing God. I suspect some may even still believe Godís desire is to punish, to reap a harvest of vengeance Ė and thatís not completely wrong. God is compassionate but he is also the one true God; he desires us, but he can not tolerate sin. There will come a day when Godís vengeance, which belongs solely to him, is somehow carried out in perfect holiness. (Romans 12:19; Deut. 32:35)
The piece thatís often missing in our perception of God is his heart. He loves us so deeply, and it breaks his heart when we walk away or give our hope and our worship to others. (Genesis 6:6, NLT) Look in his word, and itís crystal clear, beginning to end: Godís vision, his purpose, his great longing isnít to retaliate or condemn, but to rescue us with grace and restore our relationship with him. (1 John 4:8; 2 Peter 3:9)
So why donít we see his heart more often? Why canít we sense his presence more acutely, hear his voice more clearly inviting us to freedom? Good question. To answer it, we each need to start at the beginning.
Scripture reference noted with (NLT) taken from New Living Translation (NLT)