After preaching Psalm 32 a couple weeks ago, I’ve been thinking more about how to help people confess their sins to Lord on a regular basis. It’s true, telling someone they need to confess their sins is overly simplistic. That statement needs explanation and guidance. With that end in mind, here are five steps (along with Scripture texts) that I think will help us make this discipline a practice for the glory of God and the joy of our soul:
1) Read Psalm 32:1-5 to remind yourself of the deep agony of harboring sin and the soaring joy of confessing sin:
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
5 I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.
2) Ask God to reveal your sins to you. Praying through Psalm 139:23-24 will help give form to this prayer:
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
3) Then, as you begin to recognize your sins, ask yourself, “When I did that, said that, thought that (or didn’t do that, didn’t say that, didn’t think that), what did I want more than God, and what lie did I believe instead of believing God’s truth?” This brings you to the root of your sin, so that your confession isn’t merely superficial. The more you realize the deep rebellion of your sin, the more you’ll realize the transcendent joys of the gospel.
4) Confess your sins to God without making excuses or making them sound better than they really are. Remember, if you are a follower of Christ, then God does not hold your sins against you. Read Psalm 51 to give form to your confession (this is David’s prayer of repentance after committing adultery and murder).
5) To remind yourself of the riches of God’s love for you through his Son, read Romans 8 and praise him for what you encounter there.