Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the forty day season of Lent. Earlier this week we discussed the benefit of observing Lent. With the Spirit’s help, this season of self-denial helps us fight against our natural bent toward self-absorption and focus on our sin, our need for Jesus, and the sacrifice of his life for ours. If you have not given any thought toward Lent or the reason behind it, it is not too late! Prayerfully consider entering into this journey with us.
Over the next six weeks, we will be releasing a series of blogs centered around specific themes to help guide times of reflection and prayer. This week, our focus will be on the confession of sin and repentance – the confessing of and turning away from our sin and returning to God.
Confession & Repentance
What comes to mind when you think about repentance? Do you feel a twinge of guilt or a nagging in your soul? Do walls immediately go up at the thought of your sin being brought into the light? If so, you’re not alone. Confronting the depths of our sin, and confessing them before a holy God is contrary to our sinful nature. We see this theme beginning in the garden of Eden – when Adam and Eve hid from God in their guilt rather than coming to him with honest confession and it has continued throughout all humanity.
But the Bible shows us another way. God invites us into the healing and redeeming process of confession and repentance. The very riches of salvation itself comes only to those who have confessed their sin and acknowledged their need for a savior, calling on the name of Jesus. And God promises to continue redeeming and restoring his sons and daughters until the day Jesus returns.
Proverbs 28:13 tells us, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Friend, do not believe the lie of the enemy that sin is best left unconfessed. Look to the cross, to Jesus’ beaten and bruised body that took on the wrath of God in your place, and confess and turn away from your sin.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” – Psalm 51:10-12
So often we hear these words of David spoken or sung, and while they are a good and worthy plea, we would be wise not to look past the state of David’s heart as he wrote them. He had just been confronted for the sins he’d committed against Bathsheba and Uriah (2 Samuel 11, 12). He was exposed, embarrassed, and ashamed. Out of the depths of deceit and evil, he confessed his sin before God and pled for mercy, cleansing, and forgiveness.
This week, as your mind and body reach for whatever you’re fasting from, come humbly before God with these words from Psalm 139: 23-24:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, And lead me in the way of everlasting!”
Is confession and repentance part of your daily worship? Spend time talking with God about the thoughts and feelings that stir within you regarding this topic.
Spend time meditating on the crucified Jesus, his bruised and beaten body willingly hanging on the cross to take on the wrath of God that each of us deserved. Be moved to open and honest confession when you consider the magnitude of his love for you.
Practice the exercise of asking the Holy Spirit to reveal sin in your life. 1 John 1:8 reminds us that we all have sin in our hearts. Confess to God what the Spirit reveals and ask him for forgiveness and the power to walk in new ways.