REDISCOVERING THE ANCIENT PATH—Week of September 26, 2021
Confess Your Sins to God: Ps. 32
We are in Week 34 of our examination of Benedict Nursia’s rules for Christian formation. This week we are examining Rules 4.57-58: Confess Your Sins to God. I truly believe that confession is a lost part of Christian formation for many of us for a number of reasons. Some see confession as superfluous. My sins were forgiven at the cross, and God knows everything, so why do I need to confess my sins? For others, confession is merely a reset button we hit after we feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit. It is almost as if we say, “Yep, you caught me God. Now clear my conscience and let’s move on.” Still others are so burdened by guilt that they are too ashamed to approach the Father and confess their sins. But all these views of confession miss the mark. They deprive us of one of the most powerful tools God has given us for our spiritual growth. We’ve covered a lot in our examination of Benedict’s Rules, and all of the rules we have examined are important parts of our growth as followers of Christ. However, I’m convinced that confession very well may be one of the most vital.
Since that tragic day in the Garden of Eden so long ago, Satan has deluded us into believing that security and comfort can be found in hiding. Immediately upon sinning, Adam and Eve first tried to hide their shame from each other by making clothes out of fig leaves, and then they tried to hide from God among the trees. They went from perfect comfort with both God and man to living in fear of being found out. As their descendants, we believe this same lie, living in fear of being vulnerable with anyone, including God. We find it hard to believe that anyone could truly love us if they could see into the depths of our souls. So, we seek security through creating a false, idealized version of ourselves, a version that others will find respectable and that is autonomous from God. We deny our flaws and imperfections, and in so doing we deny our true selves. Of course, maintaining such a charade of control is incredibly hard work—it is, in fact, exhausting. More than that, it is incredibly damaging to our relationships with others, as we find ourselves fighting fiercely against anyone or anything that threatens the image we’ve worked so hard to create.
Yet, this is not what God has for us. In fact, Jesus died specifically to free us from this self-imposed bondage. Even in the Garden, Jesus was seeking sinners. He didn’t leave Adam and Eve to hide; he sought them out, confronted their sin, clothed their shame with animal skins, and promised redemption. Thousands of years later, that promise was fulfilled at Calvary, when Jesus gave his life for us. This time, Jesus didn’t cover our shame with animal skins. Instead, he covered our shame with his perfect righteousness. Now when Satan comes to accuse us before God, his charges are without merit. God sees nothing but Christ’s perfection when he sees us.
So, why is confession so important? Confession is important because it frees us from the bondage of our shame. Yes, God already knows what we have done. Yes, God has already forgiven us for our sin. But when we fail to acknowledge our sin, we hide ourselves from God’s provision. We lurk in the spiritual shadows, trusting in the exhausting and ridiculous fig leaf identities we create for ourselves, hoping no one will see our hidden shame. David acknowledges as much in Psalm 32. His unconfessed sin weighed heavy on his soul. It separated him from the God he loved, and it cost him dearly as he sacrificed the lives of others to cover his sin and protect his image. It was only when he confessed his sin that his joy was restored. The same holds true for us. Let us restore God’s provision in our lives. Let us find freedom in being open and honest before God. Let us regain the power of confession.
This week’s Rule is deeply personal and calls for introspection. Depending on how long the group has been together, the members may or may not be willing to talk through this subject. Thus, I have not included discussion questions. I would suggest reading through Psalm 32 together as a group and then providing space for individual prayer followed by corporate prayer for the group.