Friday, March 30, 2007

Psalm 51: Something Bigger

I have a confession to make. My confession is that I think I went for years as a Christian and didn't really understand confession. I think there's a subtle, yet significant, difference between the admission of wrong and true heart confession. Let me give you an example. Let's just say, (and you know this would never happen in my marriage, that in a moment of busyness and irritation, I speak unkindly to my wife. And let's imagine that a friend overhears what I've said and comes to me and confronts me with this wrong. Now I've been caught. He heard my words, there's no way of escaping it. And so with him watching and Luella listening, I say, "You're right, I shouldn't have spoken that way...Luella, please forgive me." Now this doesn't sound so bad on the surface, but it bears examining.

I've admitted that what I said was wrong, and that's a good thing, but there are two potential flaws in this confession. The first, is it could be that the only reason I admitted to this wrong was because I was caught red handed. I may not have been grieved at all by what I'd said. I may have confessed simply because I was in trouble. The second flaw could be that the confession was only a confession of the behavior (and that's a good thing as far as it goes) and not a confession to the heart that's behind the behavior. Here's the point. It's only when I'm grieved by my sin and acknowledge that this sin is heart deep, that my confession will be followed by the turning of repentance. You see, I speak unkindly to my wife, not because my schedule is busy or because she's less than perfect, but because there are things that I want (success, control, approval, etc...) and when she gets in the way of these things, I'm immediately irritated.

When David, in Psalm 51, prays for a pure heart and a steadfast spirit (vs.10, 11), he's acknowledging that his struggle with sin runs deeper than just behavior. He's not only confessing to the physical acts of adultery and murder, but also to the reality of a heart that's corrupt, that is, it loves personal pleasure more than it loves the Lord. When he talks of God's desire for a truthful and wise heart (v.6), he's confessing to a heart that's craved what's impure and that's loved what's foolish.

What results when you confess because you're deeply grieved by what you've done? What happens when you acknowledge that your physical sin is caused by a heart that's run amuck? The result is that you turn, really turn. What do I mean? I mean that you don't just turn away from the physical sin pattern, but your heart turns to God in new and deeper ways. What does this mean? It means that rather than being driven by the craving for the delivery of your little kingdom desires by the people and circumstances around you, your heart begins to be motivated by big kingdom purposes. True confession always results in living for something bigger!

And so David, once obsessed with the temporary and impure pleasures of his claustrophobic little kingdom of one, now becomes excited with and engaged in the transcendent purposes of God's big sky kingdom. So he says (vs.13-15),

"Then will I teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you.
Save me from bloodguilt, O God,
the God who saves me,
and I will sing of your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise."

A truly broken and contrite heart will always turn to live for something bigger. Is your confession leading you there?

2 Comments:

At 10:42 AM, Anonymous Ellen B. said...

Thanks for this post. In the past month God has brought to my mind people I need to seek forgiveness from because of my bad attitude and behaviour towards them. I have grieved over this and have been able to ask forgiveness from 2 of the 4 so far. The bigger thing is that this pattern of behaviour is more recognizable the next time it tries to creep in because I repented and turned. I run to God when this happens and that's a good thing.
Blessings

 
At 1:54 AM, Blogger Morris Brooks said...

The word confess in I John 1:2 is homologeo. It means to say or speak the same thing as another. True confession is saying the same thing about our sin that God says about it. To call it for what it is, just as God does. This goes much deeper than mere acknowledgement--Yea, Lord, I've sinned. For us to say the same thing that God would say about it we must see it as God sees it. For us to see it as God sees it requires us to have the same thoughts about it that God has. When we truly do this we see our sin for the rank rebellion, stubborn and stiff-necked self will, and the enmity against God that it really is. Then we can understand the depth of our affront against His holiness. Our confession is calling our sin what it really is in the eyes of God.

 

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