The Celebration of Confession


Stephanie VanGorden is today's Guest Blogger. Stephanie and her husband serve in a tiny corner in Colorado where my family serves with Village Missions, a missions organization whose purpose is to strengthen and establish healthy Biblical churches in North America, primarily in rural areas. You will be blessed by today's post. 


Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Proverbs 28:13

It’s an easy verse to skip over. It doesn’t seem earth-shattering or life-changing. I mean, it’s a proverb. It’s a nice pithy saying we quote if someone gets caught in sin and we don’t like them: “Well, you know, ‘whoever conceals his transgression will not prosper’...it’s about time she got found out!” The words—confess, forsake, mercy—are familiar. They don’t move us to the core like when first we understood them.

Of the many issues women often deal with, an almost total lack of understanding of the grace of God after salvation pervades just about every mind. I myself once suffered under this misconception. Any true believer understands the grace of God that works our justification at the first moment of salvation, where we pass from death to life (John 5:24), from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God's beloved Son (Colossians 1:13-14). We get that. We know that we aren't saved by anything we do, that it's all of grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).

But then we sin again.

After we're saved.

Maybe at first we trust in His continued forgiveness. But over time, as we still battle our sin nature, we begin to think, "See, I should know better—I'm a child of God!" We start to believe that God's grace is running out on us. As more time goes by, we think God loses patience. That’s where I once found myself—I believed that “once saved, always saved,” but that I was gonna just get into heaven. He’d let me in because He promised, but He’d give me a cabin (not a mansion) in one of the far corners, as far away from His throne as possible.

This is where many women live. They’re saved by grace, sanctified by their own effort, and if they sin one too many times after salvation, God’s done with them. It’s a horrifying place to be.

But this proverb, this pithy saying that no one brings out except when passing judgment against someone they’re at odds with, can change all that.

The word for confess, “yadah,” is interesting. This particular Hebrew word has some really disparate meanings. To cast, to throw down, to shoot, to praise, to give thanks, to confess. It’s apparently related to a word that can be translated “hand.” I couldn’t figure out how all those meanings could apply to the same word. We’re used to defining confession as “agreeing with God” (con/com(with) + Latin, fari (to speak)) but those thoughts don’t appear anywhere in this specific word. Then I saw one definition—“to revere or worship (with extended hands)”—and it started to make sense. When we confess our sins to God, we're acknowledging that He is right and we've been wrong. We're agreeing with Him that our sin is as bad as He says it is. We position ourselves before Him as beggars, with hands outstretched and eyes cast down, knowing that we are nothing because of this sin that plagues us, and He is everything.

Forsake means “to leave behind, to depart from,” and, stronger, “to abandon.” The Hebrew is a root word that literally means “to loosen,” so it’s especially appropriate considering that we're often in bondage to our habits of sin. In fact, one dictionary actually includes a line about “free[ing] one from a prison or condition of servitude.”

So, as beggars, we lift our bound hands to God in acknowledgement of all that He is and all that we are, asking Him to free us from the chains that bind us to those sins, and then we turn and, with Him, walk away from the sin.

That’s when we obtain mercy. The word means “to fondle,” which sounds obscene, but that’s because our culture has stolen that concept and made it something illicit. Let’s steal it back. Its root is “fond,” which means, according to one English definition, “prizing highly, cherished with great affection.” God’s response to His children’s confession of sin isn’t a grudging, “Well, I promised, and I’ve said I’m faithful and just to forgive, so I guess I have to.” No! Praise God, He draws us back to Himself, lovingly, cherishing us as a mother cherishes her children. It’s the image of the father of the prodigal son, who was looking for his son, and when he saw him coming, “felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him...and said, ‘Let us celebrate’” (Luke 15:11-24)!

God is never grudging with His children. He cherishes us, longing for us to open our eyes and see how He loves us. When we find that we’ve re-tied the sin-bonds He cut loose at justification, He stands ready and more than willing to cut us free again, so that we can walk away together...and celebrate!

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