CONFESSION - Declaration of dependence
By Sarah Field
Recently I rediscovered the A.C.T.S. method of prayer. It's an oldie but a goodie! In it we find a helpful way to structure a time of prayer. Start with adoration of the Lord, move on to confession, then thanksgiving and, finally, supplication. As I began to use this method, I quickly discovered that I had very little idea of what 'confession" was all about. So, I did a bit of work and here is what I learned.
To Confess is to admit, declare, acknowledge, own up, come clean, plead guilty.
Confession is the very first thing we ever do which is acceptable to God! It is bound up with belief and is part of how each of us gotsaved. Without confession, we remain separate from God. That is a good indication of its importance!
"If you confess (declare) with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Romans 10:9
This initial confession is an agreement with God about who Jesus Christ is, it is a personal agreement with the Gospel.
How long has it been since you were saved? For me, it's been about 43 years. My baptism was 37 years ago. What is the place of confession in the years and decades that follow Salvation? After all, when I am saved all of sin is forgiven, even my future sin.
Confession fo the Christian is about three things:
1. My sin.
2. God's holiness.
3. My need.
Last week a lady gave me a novel to read. She told me she had really enjoyed it. It was really interesting and related to what I teach, and, so she gave it to me. Over the weekend I began to read it. It was really nicely written, and before long at all, I was really pulled in. I felt connected to the characters. I wanted to know the full plot, and I had a sense of where it might be going, but there was a problem. On Sunday afternoon, I snuck a little time on the bean bag in the sun and was reading my novel, and there was a sex scene in it. I was really disappointed. I read on, all was well, and then, oh, no! There was another one. I had a decision to make. I could rationalize and keep on reading -- after all, I'm a big girl, and the book overall was really good, and I was super keen to find out what happens. Or, I could confess. Agree with God that I have sinful desires, and if I allow them to be ignited, then I am likely to end up by sinning. (James 1:13-15)
So, I prayed about it. I confessed to God my agreement with Him about the evil desires that are alive in me. I confessed to HIm that His ways are right --always. I confessed to Him that I really need His help in every way. My son, Tom, said to me the next day, "Mum, why is there a novel in the bin?" I told him why.
Sometimes it is obvious, isn't it? Sometimes it isn't. That is when confession sounds more like this:
"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24.
You see, sometimes, I'm so used to my own offiensive way -- those ways that God is not pleased by. Sometimes my blind spot is right there i front of me. So I pray that God Himself -- The Holy One -- will reveal. I invite and welcome Him to show me the patterns that have become normal but which are not beautiful to Him and to show me the sins that I compromise with, and to even reveal to me those things which are not sins in and of themselves, but which are like weights around my ankles, slowing down my Christian race and causing me to stumble (Hebrews 12:1). Without the insights and wisdom of the HolySpirit, I wouldn't see these things myself.
Confession is also a deep and enduring realization of my dependece on God. And so, in prayer I speak this out. I confess my need of Him:
- in order to live will for Him today
- to hear Him and be led by His Spirit
- to produce the fruit of the Spirit in my life
- to have my blind spots revealed
- to humble myself under His mighty hand today
- to love and serve and worship and adore Him
- to share the Gospel
- to help me in the hard things of my life
Confession is my declaration of depence.
Our relationship with God begins with confession, and our walk with the Lord is made rich by on-going confession. Agreement with Him about sin, about His holiness and about our own need for Him.
"Untutored, we tend to think that prayer is what good people do when they are doing their best. It is not. Inexperienced, we suppose that there must be an "insider language" that must be qcquired before God take us seriously in our prayer. There is not. Prayer is elemental, not advanced language. It is the means by which we get everything in our lives out in the open before God." David Jeremiah