Sunday, March 7, 2010

Something Bigger

Thoughts from my reading in Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy by Paul David Tripp. The devotional is indented.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Psalm 51:13

I have a confession to make. My confession is that I think I went for years as a Christian and didn't really understand confession. I think there's a subtle, yet significant, difference between the admission of wrong and true heart confession. Let me give you an example. Let's just say (and you know this would never happen in my marriage) that in a moment of busyness and irritation, I speak unkindly to my wife. And let's imagine that a friend overhears what I've said and comes to me and confronts me with this wrong. Now I've been caught. He heard my words; there's no way of escaping it. And so with him watching and Luella listening, I say, "You're right; I shouldn't have spoken that way. Luella, please forgive me." Now this doesn't sound so bad on the surface, but it bears examining.
What is the motive for confession? Is it to save face? Were you caught red handed and need to make peace?

As a parent, I try to teach my kids to make confession. The steps are to say: "I'm sorry for (fill in the blank), will you forgive me?" The hope is that the heart gets involved. Many times it doesn't. Sometimes it's obvious by the tone or attitude: "I'm sorry!!!"

Isn't the heart what true confession is all about? We may fool someone else but if the heart isn't right it doesn't mean a thing.

Here's the point. It's only when I'm grieved by my sin and acknowledge that this sin is heart-deep that my confession will be followed by the turning of repentance. You see, I speak unkindly to my wife not because my schedule is busy or because she's less than perfect, but because there are things that I want (such as success, control, approval) and when she gets in the way of these things, I'm immediately irritated.
It's my heart where the problem is. Some proper introspection is called for. I'll be way ahead when I admit the source of my sinful actions. The words of my confession might not change but the attitude will.

What results when you confess because you're deeply grieved by what you've done? What happens when you acknowledge that your physical sin is caused by a heart that's run amuck? The result is that you turn, really turn. What do I mean? I mean that you don't just turn away from the physical sin pattern, but your heart turns to God in new and deeper ways.
So as my heart gets involved with my confession, I am drawn closer to God.

Here is a question from the meditation:

Do the things you confess tend to be limited to wrong words and wrong actions, or do you confess to the wrong thoughts and desires that lie behind the behavior or words?
I definitely need to grow in this one.

Philip
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