“O God, you know how foolish I am; my sins cannot be hidden from you.” Psalm 69:5 (NLT)
I’m still amazed by the fact that nothing about me is hidden from God and yet, He loves me. I may try to hide my sin from Him, but it’s nothing more than a futile exercise. Confession is a gift from a loving Father who wants us to be free. His forgiveness is full and immediate – all we need to do is ask.
In Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster quotes St. Alphonsus Liguori, “For a good confession three things are necessary: an examination of conscience, sorrow, and a determination to avoid sin.” Last week we talked about the power of confessing our sins to each other and this quote continues that discussion, but I feel that whether your confession is private between you and God, or with a brother or sister in the faith, these three things are really important.
An examination of conscience is an invitation for God to search our hearts and point out anything that we need to take care of. Psalm 139:23 says, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” After asking for God to search us, we must sit quietly before Him and allow Him to impress on us anything that needs work.
Sorrow is a necessary part of confession. Foster says, “Sorrow as it relates to confession is not primarily an emotion, though emotion may be involved. It is an abhorrence at having committed the sin, a deep regret at having offended the heart of the Father.”
The last of the necessary things for confession is a determination to avoid sin. In this we ask God to give us a strong desire to live in a way that pleases Him and a strong aversion to anything that pulls us away. We ask God to shape us and form us to be more like Jesus.
Being more like Jesus every day should be the goal for those of us that are followers of His. The discipline of confession is a necessary tool to help us accomplish that.
Foster, Richard J. Celebration of Discipline, Special Anniversary Edition (p. 151, 152). HarperOne. Kindle Edition.
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