On Sunday I preached through Psalm 32. The text deals with the deep agony of harboring sin and the soaring joy of confessing sin in the life of a believer. In the sermon, we explored the reality that sin creates a rift in the enjoyment of our relationship with God when we refuse to bring it to the light and confess it to him. There is a burden-lifting, conscience-cleansing sweetness that we feel when we ask the Lord’s forgiveness for our sins, but I realize that sometimes Christians get out of the habit of confessing sin to God and, thus, it becomes hard to identify the specific sins we keep hidden below the surface. Therefore, let me offer a few suggestions for helping us examine our spiritual lives:
- Remember sin is active and passive – Meaning, sin is doing the things we should not do and not doing the things we should do. Sin includes neglect of God’s will also.
- Remember that desires can be sinful as well – In addition to our actions, words, and thoughts, our desires should be confessed to God when they yearn for something evil or yearn for something more than God.
- Remember the sin lists and the virtue lists – Go to sin lists like Galatians 5:19-21 and ask yourself, “Are these sins I am guilty of?” Then, go to the virtue lists like Galatians 5:22-23 and ask the same thing.
- Ask those who know you best – We are often to blind to things in our lives that our loved ones can see quite clearly. Ask your spouse, parent, or best friend what they see in you that God would not be pleased with.
- Ask motive questions – Ask yourself why you chose to do something. Often, our actions and words do not seem sinful on the outside, but when we ask questions of our motives, we see an idolatrous desire for respect, comfort, security, pleasure, freedom, etc.
This exercise is not meant to move you to morbid introspection that leads to despair, but rather to help you identify sin so you can take it to Jesus in confession and have the joy of his salvation restored to you. If you are a believer, you are already forgiven of all your sins because of his sacrifice, so do not be afraid to spill it all out before him. You will never find him with his back turned.