“Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:2).
True confession involves a proper understanding of sin.
King David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14). He was far from perfect, however. He was not an effective father (1 Kings 1:5-6), nor did he always trust God (1 Sam. 21:10—22:1). But by far his greatest failings were his horrible sins of adultery with Bathsheba and the subsequent murder of her husband (2 Sam. 11—12). After Nathan the prophet confronted him with his sin, David poured out his heart in confession to God. During the next three days, we will learn from that prayer (Ps. 51) some key marks of true confession.
Confession, first of all, involves a right view of sin. In Psalm 51 David summarized the biblical view of sin.
First, sin deserves judgment. In verse 1 David pleaded, “Be gracious to me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Thy compassion blot out my transgressions.” True confession must begin with an admission of guilt.
Second, sin demands cleansing. In verse 2 David asked God to cleanse him from the guilt of his sin. Since God’s “eyes are too pure to approve evil” and He cannot “look on wickedness with favor” (Hab. 1:13), only those cleansed from their sins can enter His presence. True confession acknowledges the defilement sin causes, and it pleads for God’s cleansing (1 John 1:7, 9).
Third, sin is our responsibility. Unlike Adam (Gen. 3:12) and Eve (Gen. 3:13), David accepted full responsibility for his sin. In verses 1 and 3 he referred to his sins as “my transgressions.” True confession does not blame others for sin.
Fourth, all sin is ultimately against God. David admitted that when he said to God, “Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned” (v. 4). True confession recognizes God as the supreme Lawgiver.
Fifth, sin is part of human nature. “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,” David acknowledged in verse 5, “and in sin my mother conceived me.” David accepted the biblical teaching of total depravity—that all men inherit Adam’s sin (Rom. 5:12). True confession looks inward for the cause of sin, not to external factors.
Does your confession reflect a right view of sin?
Suggestions for Prayer
Praise God that He doesn’t keep a record of your sins (Ps. 130:3-4).
For Further Study
Why is acknowledging sin important (Josh. 7:19)?
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997.