Don’t be misled into thinking that the more you confess the further away from God you must be. The opposite is true. As your relationship with God becomes more intimate, confession is more prevalent. When Jesus gave us an example of prayer, He encouraged us to seek forgiveness:
Therefore, you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (Matt. 6:9–13, emphasis added)
Notice the progression in the prayer. As you get closer to God (Your name be honored as holy), the more you confess because you increasingly realize His holiness. And the more you see Him for who He is, the more you realize how spiritually inadequate you are.
An inaccurate view of God leads to little or no confession. A reverent and accurate view of God leads to consistent confession. Consistent confession reveals a heart that is sensitive to God.
The person who consistently confesses sin is not the person who is far from God. The person who never confesses sin is the person who is far from God. His lack of pleas for forgiveness reveals he has a small view of God and a hardened heart toward sin.
There is a scene in Talladega Nights where Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell’s character) leads his family in prayer at the dinner table. In the scene Bobby prays to “baby Jesus.” His wife interrupts his prayer to remind him that Jesus grew up, that He is not a baby any longer. Bobby insists on praying to 8-pound 6-ounce Baby Jesus. He says he likes that version of Jesus the best.
Many people like the image of Baby Jesus the best.
From that perspective Jesus in a manger is safe. Jesus as a baby is harmless. He is simply a cuddly infant to gawk over. He will not arise from the manger and ask for our devotion or life. He is simply a cute baby.
But this is not the image of Jesus presented in the Gospels. Even when Jesus was a baby, the magi (wise men) did not come to play. They came to worship (Matt. 2:11). They did not come to gawk. They came to fall facedown before God.
Jesus grew up. He is no longer in a manger. And He will not return to a manger. He is God. He is not merely a cute baby we pick up and play with. He is to be worshipped and feared. As C. S. Lewis pointed out in the Chronicles of Narnia, He is not safe. He is a lion, and our legs should tremble as we approach Him.
Because of his inaccurate view of Christ, Ricky Bobby never asked for forgiveness in his prayer.
David begged for forgiveness in his prayers because David viewed God as holy. David’s longing to enjoy a close and intimate relationship with God drove him to confession. And God restored the intimacy between David and Himself. David learned from his nighttime mistake on the rooftop. He later wrote to God, “On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night” (Ps. 63:6 niv). Instead of pursuing other lovers, David pursued God in the shadows of the night.
He remembered God.
And he remembered that he was God’s bride.
The reality: You are the bride of Christ.
The response: Remember you are His bride. View sin as adultery. And consistently confess.
Adapted from Identity (2008, B&H Publishing Group)