Dedicated to the devotional, exegetical and philosophical study of theological paradox in Conservative, Thoroughly Biblical, Historically Orthodox, Essentially Reformed theology . . . to the glory of God alone!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Making Confession: A Practical Note on Psalm 32:1-2

The two previous posts on Psalm 32 lead to some practical principles which we may apply in daily life. I pray these encouragements will give you aid in your struggle against indwelling sin and spur you on to love and good deeds.

1. Confess Sin Quickly. Our spiritual maturity can be gauged by the speed with which we flee to Christ in the face of temptation and sin. If we respond to temptation by sinning, and then wait awhile before taking our sin to the Lord, we hinder our progress in sanctification. With maturity and a better understanding of grace, we will confess quickly whenever we sin. But we must take it a step further.

Grace ensures both the forgiveness and the change we need. It teaches us to "deny [that is, say "no" to] ungodliness and worldly desires" and to "live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age." (Titus 2:11-12) As we grow in grace, we learn to overcome sin by going to God in confession as soon as we are tempted - and before we actually commit sin. By doing this we can avoid much of the bitterness of sin, and we can turn our temptations into opportunities to lay hold of grace. In essence, the closer the confession gets to the actual root of the sin, the less we sin. In this way, those who practice sin the least tend to confess their sinfulness the most. And those who sin the most tend to blame others, avoid responsibility and minimize their faults the most.

Let it be stated clearly: by grace, we fight sin in cooperation with God. The alternative is to legalistically fight a losing battle in our own strength. A legalistic approach says, "Win the battle against sin and you will be accepted by God." Grace says, "You have already been accepted by God, therefore you can win the battle against sin with His help."

2. Lay Hold of Grace Immediately. Do not stop at confession of sin. This is not enough. David tells us we are blessed not because we confess sin but because we experience the forgiveness God offers. We fall into a dangerous trap when we confess sin over and over without laying hold of the grace God is extending to us.

When you face temptation, do not merely say "God, I am a terrible sinner." You will probably give yourself into the hands of the temptation if you stop on that point. Instead, say "My Father, I am a terrible sinner, but You are giving me grace to overcome my sin. Thank you for this grace. I know that You forgive my tendency to sin, and my desire to commit this sin. You have forgiven all my past sins, and You have promised me the grace to fight sin now. I am tempted to [for example: steal something], but by Your grace I'm going to do the opposite. I'm going to [give something away] right now." And thus we overcome temptation, putting sin to death by the grace of God. In this way God turns the temptation into an opportunity to do His will.

It is mere unbelief that prevents us from confessing sin quickly and laying hold of grace immediately. The delay caused by this unbelief hinders our spiritual growth. Let it not be so in your case, dear friend. Pray this prayer of faith: "Lord, I believe. Help me overcome my unbelief!" And take the advice of Hebrews 4:16 ...

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

If you have been going to a throne of law, you may be feeling defeated, condemned and unhelped. Turn from that throne, it is not the place where Christ sits. He is on the throne of grace - turn there without hesitation and receive His boundless mercy!

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