The Power of Confession
“The Power of Confession”
Johnny and Sally were spending the summer at Grandmother’s farm. Johnny made himself a slingshot and became proficient shooting rocks. One day, as he walked across the back yard, he saw movement out of the corner of his eye. He turned and shot the rock at the movement which turned out to be his grandmother’s duck. The rock killed the duck. How Johnny panicked! He took the duck out into the woods and buried him. But, when he returned, his sister was waiting on him. She had seen him kill the duck and threatened to tell if Johnny didn’t do what she said. From then on, Sally turned over her chores to Johnny by saying “Remember the duck!” After a week of agony, Johnny told his grandmother and asked for forgiveness. “I also saw you kill the duck, Johnny, and I forgave you the moment the duck died. I’ve been waiting for you to ask forgiveness.” How relieved and happy Johnny was to be forgiven.
I want to take the elements of this story + David’s sin with Bathsheba (2 Sam.11-12) + Psalm 32. Here’s what we see: (1) Sin Committed, (2) Sin Concealed, and (3) Sin Confessed.
SIN COMMITTED. David wrote Psalm 32 after he sinned with Bathsheba. He lists three different words for sin in vv.1-2. (1) Transgression—means to cross over the line; rebel against authority; defiance. It is what makes a child test every regulation, rule, and restriction placed upon him. (2) Sin—means to miss the mark; to not live up to standards God has set up; go astray; to fall short of the Law’s demands. (3) Iniquity—refers to the inner character of the sinner: twisted, bent, crooked; when we sin, we feel dirty and unclean.
When David sinned with Bathsheba, he fulfilled each of these aspects of sin: (1) Transgression—David knew the commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” There was a “sign” on Bathsheba that said, “Stop! Another man’s wife! Forbidden!” But David rebelled and defied those stop signs. (2) Sin—when he sinned, David realized he had not measured up to what God wanted him to be—he fell short of God’s standard of holiness. (3) Iniquity—sin makes us feel dirty and guilty inside—that’s why, when David wrote Psalm 51, he prayed, “Wash me…Purge me…Create in me a clean heart.” Arthur Conan Doyle (author of the “Sherlock Holmes” novels) played a prank on the five most respected men in London. He wrote an anonymous note to them: “All is found out. Flee at once!” Within 24 hours, all five men had left the country. We may not have committed adultery, but each of us has sin to confess. What is important is how we deal with our Committed Sin—and that is one of two ways:
SIN CONCEALED. No one likes to admit when he is wrong. This goes all the way back to our 1st parents, Adam and Eve, who tried to hide from God when they sinned. In David’s case, he might have gotten away with his affair with Bathsheba except that the woman became pregnant. Even for a King, you can imagine the panic, stress, anxiety, and even fear that came over David! The King did not want to face the woman’s husband, the people of Israel, and especially God. How society has changed in its attitude toward sin—used to be, people were ashamed but today people have no realization of wrong. We have even lost the ability to blush! Whether the man is Bill Cosby or Bill Clinton or King David—people try to conceal their sin.
The first thing David thought of was to get Bathsheba’s husband home from the battlefield so that he could be credited with the conception. So the King brought faithful, unsuspecting Uriah home from the war and wined/dined him and told him to “Get down to your home and wash your feet.” He was urging the man to go see his wife. But Uriah slept at David’s door that night and said the next morning, “How can I be with my wife when my buddies are fighting a war?” That night David got him drunk, thinking he might lose his resolve and self-discipline. Uriah slept at David’s door. When this did not work, David wrote a letter to General Joab that said to put Uriah in the most dangerous part of the battle and then withdraw his men so that Uriah would be killed. This is awful!
Another word for “sin” in verse 2 is “deceit” or “guile.” This means insincerity, deception, or concealment. This is how sin affected David—to cover up his sin. But surely servants saw the woman come and go to David’s palace. Surely people saw the King steal away to Bathsheba’s house. And, the letter, oh, the letter—surely Joab kept a copy of the letter! And, surely people put things together when they saw Bathsheba begin to show her pregnancy and then her husband mysteriously killed on the battlefield. And, again, surely people put two and two together when David married Bathsheba so quickly after she finished mourning for her husband.
God does not permit His children to sin successfully. Sin is like a serpent and, when a person covers his sin, all he does is keep that serpent warm so it may sting the more fiercely and disperse the venom more freely! “He who covers his sins will not prosper” (Prov. 28:13). Look at verses 3 and 4 to see how sin affected David for a year. (1) He used to be a Healthy man—a shepherd, warrior, outdoorsman—but guilt sapped his strength—his “bones grew old.” Some physical symptoms of guilt: aching body, stomach disorders, insomnia, depression, head & back pain. (2) He used to be a Happy man—once known as the “Sweet Singer of Israel” but now he groans all day as God’s “heavy hand” is upon him. (3) He used to be a Hearty man—attracted people to him—no more as his “vitality has turned into the drought of summer”—lost his energy, enthusiasm, and joy of salvation. Concealing sin hurts us!
I think a modern day example of this has to be the great golfer, Tiger Woods. He has been one of the greatest athletes of golf in history. Married to a beautiful woman. Precious children. On top of the world with money, fame, and endorsements. Then a story broke about Tiger having multiple affairs. His wife sued for divorce. Huge marriage settlement. Public shame. His golf game went down and he has not won a tournament in years. He has had a rash of injuries that simply will not heal. The way of the transgressor is hard. Concealed sin will always hurt a man. What Tiger and King David should have done:
SIN CONFESSED. Eventually King David’s sin found him out. Read 2 Samuel 12 how God revealed David’s life to Nathan the prophet. Then God sent Nathan to David. The prophet told David a touching story about how a wealthy man (with many sheep) took a pet lamb from a precious family. David exploded in anger, vowing to kill the man! Nathan pointed a finger at the King and firmly stated, “You are that man! You have many wives and yet you took a woman who was the precious wife of one of your most faithful servants.” 2 Samuel 12:13 records David’s confession of sin.
In Psalm 32:5 we see how David “acknowledged his SIN”—admitted he went astray. He confessed, “I have not hidden my INIQUITY”—I have been dirty and unclean. He confessed his TRANSGRESSION—“I rebelled against God and ran through His “Stop” signs!” None of us like to confess. A man went to a Hallmark Card Shop and said, “I want a card that vaguely hints at doing wrong but stops short of saying ‘I’m sorry!’” No sir! That will never do! For us to be forgiven, confession has to be made—sincerely and specifically! David wanted a clean heart for himself. He wanted a right relationship with people. And he desired a right relationship with GOD—see Ps. 32:2a—he did not want God to “impute iniquity”—impute means to put to the account, to add to the record. God is keeping the books and David wanted his sin debt canceled and no longer on the record. This can happen only when we confess our sins (1 John 1:9)—only then, through Jesus’ death on the Cross—can our sin be forgiven and forgotten.
Tom Brokaw, in the early days of President Ronald Reagan, was critical of the President. This did not bother Mr. Reagan but upset his wife, Nancy. The Brokaws were invited to a State Dinner at the White House. Tom’s wife asked, “What are you going to say to Mrs. Reagan?” When they were standing in line to meet the Reagans, Tom’s wife asked again, “What are you going to say to Mrs. Reagan?” Finally, when they shook hands, Tom said to Mrs. Reagan, “Back to square one?” Mrs. Reagan sweetly smiled and said, “Back to square one.” The next day Tom received a picture in the mail showing him shaking hands with Nancy Reagan with these words written: “Back to square one. Nancy Reagan.”
When we confess our sin, God forgives and removes our sin as far as the east is from the west. He remembers it no more. David rejoices in verse 1: “Blessed (happy; exuberant; inwardly joyful) is he whose transgression is forgiven!” Do not conceal your sin any longer. When we “uncover” our sin, God is able to “cover” our sin. In marriage, the three most important words, next to “I love you,” are “I am sorry.” Our families need confession and forgiveness. Our church needs confession and forgiveness or the Spirit will be quenched and grieved.
Come back to “square one.” Confess your sins as far as the sins are known (to God, to others, to the Church). Know the blessedness of the man whose sin is forgiven and whose iniquity is not imputed.