A popular tabloid magazine carries the title True Confessions. This magazine contains titillating supposed “true confessions” of people that are nothing more than an excuse to fuel sexual fantasies and inflame the sinful nature. Secular confession such as is found in magazines, newspapers, books, internet blogs, websites, and television programs present “confessions” in a way that is a corruption of the holy means prescribed by God to deal with the burden of sin. True Confessions like these actually serve to compound sin rather than cleanse it away.
There is another false form of confession that undermines God’s intended purpose. Sanctimonious confession is confession in a religious setting with the heart cut out of it. An example of this is found in Luke 18:9-14 where Jesus shares a parable about two people who came to pray in the Temple. The first was a proud self righteous Pharisee who prayed “with himself” and relied on his perceived self righteousness and good works. This man was sanctimonious in that he came and confessed with no heartfelt remorse and repentance. The second man, a hated tax collector, came humbly beating his chest in sorrow over his sin begging God to forgive him. He had a repentant attitude that sought forgiveness and cleansing from his sin through sanctified confession to God. Jesus said the tax collector, not the Pharisee was justified.
Sanctified confession is scriptural. Sanctified confession is confession that is separate from common secular or sanctimonious confession. It’s different because it is genuine, authentic, God ordained true confession. It is rooted in and guided by God’s holy word and because of that it fulfills God’s intended purpose of being a vital part of dealing with the burden of sin. What does sanctified confession entail? Psalm 32 gives us a picture of the true confession that is effective and acceptable to God.
First, sanctified confession starts with an appreciation for God’s forgiveness (Psalm 32:1-2). The first two verses of psalm 32 state:
Psalm 32:1-2 – “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.”
True sanctified confession begins with an appreciation and understanding that all sin is ultimately against “the LORD” (cf. Ps. 51:4). God is holy and of purer eyes than to look on evil or wickedness (Hab. 1:13). Sin separates us from God (Is. 59:2). The person who desires to have a healthy relationship with God will deal with their sin. “Blessed” means Oh how happy. Happiness comes when our transgressions, our willful sins are forgiven and our inherent sins are covered. True confession begins when we honestly (“in whose spirit there is no deceit”) come to God with our sin issues.
Second, silence or lack of sanctified confession leads to a burden of guilt and lack of blessing (Psalm 32:3-4). David writes:
Psalm 32:3-4 – “When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah”
Holding sin inside and refusing to confess it to the LORD can lead to actual physical pain. Ulcers, headaches, and other diseases have been linked to the stress and anxiety of unconfessed sin. When we hold sin inside we end up groaning all day; it brings our entire perspective on life down. David spoke of the heavy burden he felt and that his “vitality’ or energy was dried up like a drought because of a lack of sanctified confession. Depression is often characterized by isolation and is directly connected to not dealing properly with sin issues in life. God’s hand is “heavy” upon us until we confess our sin because He wants to help us. He disciplines us to deal with our sin. He wants sin removed so we can either enter a saving relationship with Him for the first time or remove the hindrances to our existing relationship with Him.
When David inserts the word “Selah” he is telling us that this is truth from the LORD that we need to pause and meditate on. Ask the LORD is this something that’s true of me, do I understand this and am I willing to accept it and have God apply it to my life?
Third, sanctified confession acknowledges sin to God (Psalm 32:5). Verse five states:
Psalm 32:5 – “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah”
Notice it states sin is to be acknowledged “to You, . . . to the LORD.” This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t confess our sins to one another in the process of seeking godly counsel such as is mentioned by James (James 5;16). But we don’t have to go to a church confessional to practice sanctified confession. The Person we need to go to first and foremost is Jesus. We have God’s Word to help us discern the thoughts and intents of our heart. Jesus is our “great High Priest.” Jesus is the One who can sympathize with us. Jesus is the One who is the basis for us coming directly, confidently, into the presence of Holy God to confess our sins (Heb. 4:12-16). Jesus is the only One who is “able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). Come to Jesus with your sanctified confessions!
When we come clean before God through sanctified confession, God is faithful to forgive us. His promise, according to the apostle John is, “But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin . . . . If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:7, 9). Old Testament sins were forgiven and covered by God until Jesus actually paid the penalty for those sins on the cross (Rom. 3:21-26). Jesus established the just basis for God to cleanse away confessed sin by His death and shed blood on the cross (1 Peter 1:18-19). We confess our sins to God because He is the One who has established the basis for His just forgiveness of sin (2 Cor. 5:19, 21). This is the “light” we must receive and walk in and this is the “faithful and just” provision of God for the forgiveness of sins the apostle John refers to. Once sin is removed through sanctified confession, we enter into sweet blessed fellowship with God through faith in Christ.
Fourth, sanctified confession leads to the restoration of relationship with God in prayer (32:6-7). This inspired Psalm continues:
Psalm 32:6-7 – “For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You In a time when You may be found; surely in a flood of great waters they shall not come near him. 7 You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah”
Godliness is restored through sanctified confession. Godliness refers to the interaction and relationship a person has with God. Prayer is a prime means for us to relate to God. Prayer is a declaration of dependence upon God; it’s a way of hiding in God during times of trouble when deliverance is needed. In prayer we should pause and meditate on the forgiveness God provides, on our relationship with Him, and how He delivers us in life.
Fifth, sanctified confession involves repentance (Psalm 32:8-10). Verses 8-10 read:
Psalm 32:8-10 – “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. 9 Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you. 10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; but he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him.”
Sanctified confession leads to sanctified living. When we confess our sins to God we do so in full surrender to His Lordship. One of the things we need to apply sanctified confession to is our stubbornness to try and deal with our sins on our own, or seeking mere secular answers for the spiritual problems of sin. This only leads to more sin and greater sorrow. We need to turn to God and His word for direction. It is in God’s word that He says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. . .” When it says, “I will guide you with My eye” it means we need to be attentive to the Lord’s leading as a servant serving pays attention to their master who directs them with a glance here and a look there to show them where he wants them to serve. Remember, “he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him.”
The nature of your confession makes all the difference in the world in terms of whether or not it leads to the desired objective of forgiveness of sins. David confessed he was conceived in sin (Ps. 51:5). Isaiah in the presence of Holy God confessed “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips . . . .” (Is. 6:5). The Prodigal confessed, “I have sinned” (Luke 15:18). But Pharaoh also said, “I have sinned against the LORD your God” (Exodus 10:16). King Saul also said “I have sinned” (1 Sam. 15:24). And Judas also said, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood” (Mat. 27:4). The first three are examples of sanctified confession, the last three are not. What’s the difference? Repentance is the difference. David, Isaiah and the Prodigal were repentant; they had a heartfelt deep remorse and desire to not repeat their sin. Pharaoh was sorry for himself and the judgment of God on his nation and soon repeated his sinful ways. King Saul continued in his sin by continuing in his self willed godless decisions, jealously tried to murder David, murdered God’s priests and sought counsel from a witch. Judas felt sorry for himself and ultimately trashed his God-given gift of life. No repentance in those three. Sanctified confession is accompanied by heartfelt repentance.
Sixth, sanctified confession results in a restoration of joy (Psalm 32:11). The last verse of this psalm states:
Psalm 32:11 – “Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”
What a relief, what a blessing it is to experience the lifting of the burden of sin through sanctified confession and the forgiveness of God. When we come to the cross of Christ through sanctified confession our burdens of guilt and sin fall from us, our spirit is lifted and we shout for joy! That’s the result of sanctified true True Confessions. Got a burden? Hiding a sin? Tired of sanctimonious vain rituals that just don’t deal with sin? Come to Jesus in sanctified confession and experience liberty from your sin and the joy of the Lord.