April 23: The Art of Confession
Joshua 10:16–11:23; 2 Corinthians 11:1–6; Psalm 51:1–19
Confession is a lost art. Most Christian communities today have little outlet for doing so, and the systems for confessing that we do have are often tainted by a lack of honesty and trust.
This isn’t helped by the fact that none of us like to admit wrong. Yet God calls us to confession. In revealing sin in our lives, we have an opportunity to change (Jas 5:16). When a sin is revealed, the strength of temptation wanes.
This is not to suggest that we should openly confess our sins to all people, for unsafe and abusive people certainly exist. Rather, in close friendship with other Christians, we should be honest about our failures. Most importantly, we must confess these things to God.
We need to overcome the fatal assumption that because we are saved by Christ’s dying and rising for our sins, we no longer need to confess them. In admitting our sins to God, we move toward overcoming them and into an honest relationship with Him. God already knows who we are and what we’ve done, so there is no reason to fear being honest with Him. And perhaps in learning to be honest with Him we can also learn to be honest with others.
For many of us, the difficulty of praying about our sins is what prevents us from telling God what we need and what we’ve done. God has an answer to this, though: the psalms.
For example, in Psa 51, the psalmist says, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and from my sin cleanse me. For I, myself, know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me” (Psa 51:2–3). He goes on to say, “Create a clean heart for me, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and with a willing spirit sustain me” (Psa 51:10–12).
When we confess our sins to God and to others, He is faithful to help us overcome temptations. We have been given the great gift of Christ Jesus, who purifies us from all our wrongs against Him and others. And so we must seek His presence and live in it; in doing so, we can overcome the power of sin. In light of God’s power, sin is nothing; it deserves no stronghold.
Are you currently confessing your sins to God and others? How can you create a safe system to confess your sins in a way that honors God?
JOHN D. BARRY
- But the five kings fled and were hid in a cave at Makkedah. And it was told Joshua, saying, The five kings are found hid in a cave in Makkedah. Then Joshua said, Roll great stones upon the mouth of the cave, and set men by it for to keep them. But stand ye not still: follow after your enemies, and smite all the hindmost, suffer them not to enter into their cities: for the Lord your God hath given them into your hand. And when Joshua and the children of Israel had made an end of slaying them with an exceeding great slaughter till they were consumed, and the rest that remained of them were entered into walled cities, Then all the people returned to the camp, to Joshua at Makkedah in peace: no man omved his tongue against the children of Israel. After, Joshua said, Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out these five kings unto me forth of the cave. And they did so, and brought out those five kings unto him forth of the cave, even the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon. And when they had brought out those kings unto Joshua, Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said unto the chief of the men of war, which went with him, Come near, set your feet upon the necks of thse kings, and they came near, and set their feet upon their necks. And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be faint hearted, but be strong and of a good courage: for thus will the Lord do to all your enemies, against whom ye fight. So when Joshua smote them, and slew them, and hanged them on five trees, and they hanged still upon the trees until the evening. And at the going down of the sun, Joshua gave commandment, that they should take them down off the trees, and cast them into the cave (wherein they had been hid) and they laid great stones upon the cave’s mouth, which remain until this day. And that same day Joshua took Makkedah and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof destroyed he with them, and all the souls that were therein, he let none remain: for he did to the king of Makkedah, as he had done unto the king of Jericho. Then Joshua went from Makkedah, and all Israel with him unto Libnah, and fought against Libnah. And the Lord gave it also and the king thereof into the hand of Israel: and he smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein: he let none remain in it: for he did unto the king thereof, as he had done unto the king of Jericho. And Joshua departed from Libnah, and all Israel with him unto Lachish, and besieged it, and assaulted it. And the Lord gave Lachish into the hand of Israel, which took it the second day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein, according to all as he had done to Libnah. Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish: but Joshua smote him and his people, until none of his remained. And from Lachish Joshua departed unto Eglon, and all Israel with him, and they besieged it, and assaulted it. And they took it the same day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein he utterly destroyed the same day, according to all that he had done to Lachish. Then Joshua went up from Eglon, and all Israel with him unto Hebron, and they fought against it. And when they had taken it, they smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof, and all the souls that were therein: he left none remaining, according to all as he had done to Eglon: for he destroyed it utterly, an dall the souls that were therein. So Joshua returned, and all Israel with him to Debir, and fought against it.And when he had taken it, and the king thereof, and all the city thereof, they smote them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed all the souls that were therein, he let none remain: as he did to Hebron, so he did to Debir, and to the king thereof, as he had also done to Libnah, and to the king thereof. So Joshua smote all the hill countries, and the South countries, and the valleys, and the hillsides, and all the kings, and let none remain, but utterly destroyed every soul, as the Lord God of Israel had commanded. And Joshua smote them from Kadesh Barnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon. And all thse kings, and their land did Joshua take at one time, because the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel. Afterward, Joshua and all Israel with him returned unto the camp in Gilgal. And when Jabin king of Hazor had heard htis, then he sent to Jobab king of Madon, and to the king of Shimron, and to the king of Achshaph. And unto the kings that were by the North in the mountains and plains toward the South side of Chinneroth, and in the valleys, an din the borders of Dor Westward, And unto the Canaanites, both by East, and by West, and unto the Amorites, and Hittites, and Perizzites, and Jebusites in the mountains, and unto the Hivites, under Hermon in the land of Mizpah. And they came out, and all their hosts with them, many people, as the sand that is on the seashore, for multitude, with horses and chariots exceeding many. So all thse kings met together, and came and pitched together at the waters of Merom, for to fight against Israel. Then the Lord said unto Joshua, Be not afraid for them: for tomorrow about this time will I deliver them all slain before Israel: thou shalt hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire. Then came Joshua and all the men of war with him, against them, by the waters of Merom suddenly, and fell upon them. And the Lord gave them into the hand of Israel: and they smote them, and chased them unto great Sidon, and unto Misrephoth, and unto the valley of Mizpah Eastward, and smote them until they had non remaining of them. And Joshua did unto them as the Lord bade him: he houghed their houses, and burnt their chariots with fire. At that time also Joshua turned back, and took Hazor, and smote the King thereof with the sword: for Hazor beforetime was the head of all those kingdoms. Moreover they smote all the persons that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying all, leaving none alive, and he burnt Hazor with fire. So all the cities of those kings, and all the kings of them did Joshua take, and smote them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded. But Israel burnt none of the cities that stood still in their strength, save Hazor only, that Joshua burnt. And all the spoil of these cities and the cattle, the children of Israel took for their prey, but they smote every man with the edge of the sword until they had destroyed them, not leaving one alive. As the Lord had commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua, he left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses. So Joshua took all this land of the mountains, and all the South, and all the land of Goshen, and the low country, and the plain, and the mountain of Israel, and the low country of the same. From the mount Halak, that goeth up to Seir, even unto Baal Gad in the valley of Lebanon, under mount Hermon: and all their kings he took and smote them, and slew them. Joshua made war [a] long time with all those Kings. neither was there any city that made peace with the children of Israe, save those Hivites that inhabited Gibeon: all others they took by battle. For it came of the Lord, to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, to the intent that they should destroy them utterly, and show them no mercy, but that they should bring them to nought, as the Lord had commanded Moses. And that same season came Joshua, and destroyed the Anakims out of the mountains: as out of Hebron, out of Debir, out of Anab, and out of all the mountains of Judah, and out of all the mountains of Israel: Joshua destroyed them utterly with their cities. There was no Anakim left in the land of the children of Israel, only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod were they left. So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord had said unto Moses: and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel, according to their portions through their tribes: then the land was at rest without war. Joshua 10:16–11:23
- Would to God, ye could suffer a little my foolishness, and indeed, ye suffer me. For I am jealous over you, with godly jealousy: for I have preapred you for one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ: But I fear lest as the serpent beguiled Even through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupt from the simplicity that is in Christ: For if he that cometh, preacheth another Jesus whom we have not preached: or if ye receive another spirit whom ye have not received: either another Gospel which ye have not received, ye might well have suffered him. Verily I suppose that I was not inferior to the very chief Apostles. And though I be rude in speaking, yet I am not so in knowledge, but among you we have been made manifest to the uttermost, in all things. 2 Corinthians 11:1–6
- Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according to the multitude of thy compassions put away mine iniquities. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from mine sin. For I know mine iniquities, and m sin is ever before me. Against thee, against thee only have I sinned, and done evil in thy sight, that thou mayest be just when thou speakest, and pure when thou judgest. Behold, I was born in iniquity, and in sin hath my mother conceived me. Behold, thou lovest truth in the inward affections: therefore hast thou taught me wisdom in the secret of mine heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones, which thou has broken, may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and put away all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thine holy Spirit from me. Restore me to the joy of thy salvation, and establish me with thy free Spirit. Then shall I teach thy ways unto the wicked, and sinners shall be converted unto thee. Deliver me from blood, O God, which art the God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing joyfully of thy righteousness. Open thou my lips, O Lord, and my mouth shall show forth thy praise. For thou desirest no sacrifice, though I would give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a contrite spirit: a contrite and a broken heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Be favorable unto Zion for thy good pleasure: build the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt thou accept the sacrifices of righteousness, even the burnt offering and oblation: then shall they offer calves upon thine altar. Psalm 51:1–19