April 24, 2016 • Life for Leaders
Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the LORD.”
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
We’ve all heard the expression: Confession is good for the soul. Today, we’ll examine a psalm that demonstrates the truth of this saying. Moreover, it invites us to confess for the sake of our own souls.
The very sins that haunt us the most, the sins for which we most need to experience God’s forgiveness, are usually the ones we have the hardest time confessing.
Psalm 32 expresses David’s joy in experiencing the freedom of God’s forgiveness. But, for a while, David did not rejoice because he refused to confess his sin (v. 3). God’s tough but gracious discipline brought David to the point that he laid everything before the Lord without holding back. He stopped trying to hide his guilt from God (v. 5). The result of his full confession was God’s forgiveness, which led to David’s rejoicing: “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered (v. 1).”
I have seen this sort of scenario play out in many lives. As a pastor, I have been privileged to listen to people who, after years of struggling with guilt, have finally been able to confess their sin to God. The resulting experience of forgiveness and peace often leads to exultant joy.
The very sins that haunt us the most, the sins for which we most need to experience God’s forgiveness, are usually the ones we have the hardest time confessing. Our shame over our failure keeps us from telling God the truth of what we have done. Yet, by the power of his Spirit, when we are set free to be honest about our worst offenses, then we are finally able to know the transforming power of divine forgiveness. We can experience in real-time the truth of 1 John 1:8-9: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” From all unrighteousness! Now that’s what I call good news.
If you’re carrying a heavy burden of unconfessed sin today, let me encourage you to follow David’s example. Tell the Lord where you have failed. Don’t hold back. Let the power of God’s forgiveness transform your heart and reorient your life. God is ready to do this. Are you?
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
When have you experienced the transforming power of forgiveness?
Are you being dragged down by guilt because you have not confessed certain sins? What keeps you from confessing?
What helps you to be more honest with God in your confession?
O Lord, how I thank you for your forgiveness. There is little in life more wonderful than the knowledge that you truly forgive me, not just for the “little stuff,” but for the “big stuff” as well.
Yet you have required us to confess our sins to you so that we might experience your forgiveness. Through Christ, full forgiveness is ours. When we hold back from telling you our sins, however, we close our hearts to the wonder of your cleansing. So, help me, Lord, to tell you the truth about myself. Even and especially when I feel ashamed about my sin and am tempted to keep quiet about it, help me to speak openly to you, so that I might know the freedom and joy of forgiveness.
Most of all, Lord, I thank you for taking my sin and guilt upon yourself, offering righteousness and freedom in exchange. All praise be to you, O God, for the forgiveness I have through your grace in Christ. Amen.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.