Ever feel like your signal between you and the LORD is fuzzy? It’s because “life” gets in the way. Confess it to Him.
28 A lying tongue hates those it hurts,
and a flattering mouth works ruin.
28:13 Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16
In a book on corporate worship (our staff is going through it), there are seven essential elements that need to be present in a worship service. We looked at Recognition of God’s Character (Adoration) yesterday. Today, we will look at Acknowledgement of Our Character (Confession).
Our sins have not been covered as they were under the Law, but they have been washed away by the blood of Jesus (Zechariah 3:9 and 1 Corinthians 6:11). We have been cleansed and are now blameless in God’s eyes (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Positionally, we have been made sons of God (women, too, have been raised to the position of sonship; see Romans 8:14-17 and the note at the end of this post*). Relationally, though, we can allow sin to come between us and our Lord. It won’t condemn us anymore, but it does cloud our vision of Him and plug up our ears so that we cannot hear His gentle voice. He knows it’s there; we are simply agreeing with Him that it IS there, which is called, “confession.”
The best illustration is in John 13 when Jesus and His disciples were celebrating the Last Supper together. Let’s read it:
2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” John 13:2-1
In Christ, we are clean positionally. We simply need the dust washed off our feet. Confession is what allows the Holy Spirit to remove everything that stands between us and hearing Jesus’ voice and seeing Jesus’ face. It’s our recognition of who we are and who He is; it’s proclaiming what we need Him to do for us. We need Him!
I pray that you will practice confession today. It seems like there’s always something that is in the way of our communion with the Lord. Let’s keep the lines of communication as clean as possible.
Abba, it seems that I am constantly having to come to You to help me clear out stuff that gets in the way of hearing You, loving You, and serving You. King David said it best, “Search my heart, O God. Try me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24. Lord, You know this is my prayer every morning. I confess my need of You. Amen.
For your continued reading pleasure:
*From Ray Stedman’s “The Sons of God Among Men”
For the first time in this letter Paul uses the phrase “the sons of God.” Now, I want to make something clear. This is a generic term that includes both sexes. There is no necessity now of referring to a female person as something different than the male. All believers in Christ who really trust him and have received the gift of righteousness by faith are sons of God — regardless of whether they are male or female. There is no need for any differentiation of the sexes here. That is why the Scriptures speak of us — all of us — freely as the “sons of the living God,” (Hos 1:10, Romans 9:26). You see, this speaks of something that is true of our spirit, and our spirit is sexless. Spirit is not identifiable by male or female, so what is true of the human spirit is quite apart from what is true of the body.
It is important in understanding this to recognize right off that not everybody is a son of God. According to Galatians 5, you are sons of God by faith in Jesus Christ. That is what makes you a son of God, nothing else. It is true that we are all creatures of God by natural birth. When Paul was preaching in Athens, that great intellectual center, he mentioned to the Athenians that even their own poets recognized that men came from God. We are the offspring of God, and in him “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28), he said. That is true of all human beings everywhere in the world at all times. We are creatures of God. We are the offspring of God.
But Paul is careful to use quite a different word in Romans. Here the word is “sons of God.” We are in the family of God, and this is a very distinctive term. I want to underscore how important this is for us to understand, because it is something that God intends for us to return to when we are in trouble. If you are having difficulty handling your behavior — whether you are not doing what you want to do, or doing what you don’t want to do — the way to handle it is to remind yourself of what God has made you to be. This terminology is tremendously helpful.
In other words, in the struggle that you have with sin within you, you are not a slave, helplessly struggling against a cruel and powerful master; you are a son, a son of the living God, with power to overcome the evil — even though it is a struggle to do so. And though you may be temporarily overcome, you are never ultimately defeated. It cannot be, because you are already constituted children of God. That is why Paul could say in Romans 6, “Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace,” (Romans 6:14 KJV). And in this gracious relationship, we are made and constituted sons of the living God. No matter what happens to us, that is what we are. Nothing can change that. That is the place from which we start.
It is important also for us to see how we become sons of God. Paul says, “You did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear.” When the Spirit of God came into your heart, he did not make you a slave to fear. Remember how Paul puts that again in Second Timothy 1:7: “You have not received a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind,” (2 Timothy 1:7 KJV). That is the nature of the Holy Spirit. What did the Spirit do? Paul says, “You received the Spirit who makes you sons,” or, literally, “the Spirit of adoption, who adopted you as sons.” How did you become a son of God? Well, the Spirit of God found you, and found me, and he adopted us into God’s family.
I was with a family the other night where there were two adopted children and two natural-born children. I watched all evening long to see if I could tell which were the adopted ones and which were the natural ones. I finally had to ask the parents because I couldn’t tell any difference — even with their looks. Two were adopted into the family and two were natural-born children, but they were all treated so beautifully and so naturally that I couldn’t tell the difference.
Some of you may be saying at this point, “Look, you are confusing me. What do you mean when you say we are adopted into the family of God? I have been taught from the Scriptures that I was born into the family of God. I have been born again.” That is the term that is being bandied about these days. Even politicians are boasting, “I’ve been born again!” Thank God, some of them are. “But,” you say, “some passages talk about the new birth, about being born into the family of God. I thought we were born, not adopted. What do you mean by adopted?” I am glad you asked that question. You see, the truth is that both of these are true. You are both adopted and born into the family of God. As Jesus said on another occasion, “With man that is impossible, but with God, all things are possible,” (Matthew 19:26). You can’t be both adopted and born into a human family, but you can in God’s family. God uses both of these terms because he wants to highlight two different aspects of our belonging to the family of God. You are said to be adopted because God wants you to remember always that you are not naturally part of the family of God. We have been seeing all along in this letter that we are born into Adam’s family, and we are all children of Adam by natural birth. We belong to the human family, and we inherit Adam’s nature. All his defects, all his problems, all the evil that came into his life by his acts of disobedience — all these were passed along to us by natural birth. So by nature we are not part of God’s family. This is just like some of you, who were born into one family, and, then, by a legal process, were taken out of that family and were adopted into another family. From then on you became part of the family that adopted you.
This is what has happened to us. God has taken us out of our natural state in Adam, and, by the process of the Spirit, has made us legally sons of God, and we are part of his family. But he reminds us that we are in his family by adoption so that we might never take it for granted, or forget that if we were left in our natural state we would not have a part in the family of God. It is only by the grace of God that we come into his family. But it is also true that we are born into God’s family. Once we have been adopted, it is also true that, because God is God, he not only makes us legally his sons but he makes us actually partake of the divine nature and we are born into his family. We actually share the nature of God! It is an amazing statement! This tie with Jesus is so real that we are seen to be actually one with him, and we share the divine nature. Peter puts it this way: “We have been made partakers of the divine nature,” (2 Peter 1:4 KJV). So we are as much a part of God’s family as if we had originally been born into it, and we are born into it by the grace of God.
So both of these statements are true. There is nothing more wonderful to remind yourself of, morning by morning, and day by day, than this great fact: If you are a Christian, you are a son of the living God, adopted and born into his family. Because you are his son, God loves you, God protects you, God provides for you, God plans for you, God hears you, God claims you and openly acknowledges you, God chastens and corrects you, and God honors you. All of that is true because you are his son.
We know how we treat our natural children. There is a difference between them and the neighbors’ children. Our children are considerably superior, of course. We may love the neighbors’ children, they may be delightful children. We have some wonderful children in our neighborhood whom we love and admire, but they are not our children. We have a special relationship with our children. We care for them, we hurt for them, we love and protect them, we plan for them, we watch out for them. We are specially tied with them. That is what this is saying to us. God has a special relationship to us. We are the sons of God turned loose among the sons of men.
It would be helpful, I know, if God would put a little mark on us that would indicate that we are his sons. If we had a little red star on our foreheads, then we could tell all the other sons of God. Or perhaps if we had a special glow. (Sometimes that does show, anyway.) But there is no special mark. Outwardly, there is no distinction; but inwardly, there is a tremendous distinction, and that is what we need to understand. We can’t tell by looking at anyone whether he is a son of God or not, though often there is an underlying sense that reveals itself and identifies brothers and sisters in Christ. But there is a vast difference within, and because of that difference, there is a special relationship that God has with us.