I don’t think that the words of Psalms 32:4-5 are a surprise to anyone:
“When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.” (Psalms 32:4 NIV)
I don’t know about you, but this has been my own personal experience! When I have unconfessed sin in my life, it takes its toll physically on every level of my being. I feel depressed, without energy. It is like I have this cloud of guilt hanging over my head at all times.
As Christians, we know that God forgives us. We know that the moment we accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, the stain of all sin was removed from us: “…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalms 103:12 NIV). That doesn’t just mean the sin we’ve done prior to accepting Jesus. It also means the sins we continue to do as well as the ones we will do in the future! Anything less would be unfair, for God knows that we will do things that hurt other people. We will continue to sin! After all, He knows everything! Remember Psalms 139?
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there…If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day for darkness is as light to you.” (Psalms 139:7-8, 11-12 NIV).
So if we are already forgiven, why do we continue to feel so bad about unconfessed sin?
This is because there is one requirement on our part: We need to confess! “Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’” (Psalms 32:5a NIV). Our confession works to unleash God’s forgiveness. It is like turning on the tap, so to speak, and letting the forgiveness, already earned on the cross, flow down over us! Still not convinced? Check out 1 John 1:9: “ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (NIV).
Why is confession necessary?
Because confession is therapeutic! If we do something bad, we need to follow David’s advice and tell God what we did. He knows it anyway, and the act of confession will free us from that heavy feeling of depression. God will forgive! He loves us so much that when we confess and accept His forgiveness, we care called “blessed”: “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.” (Psalms 32:1-2 NIV)
When I think about the truth of Psalms 32, I remember a story of my childhood. My brother, who was 5 years older than me, used to smoke out on the balcony of our parent’s apartment. He wasn’t allowed to smoke in the house, and he saw the balcony as his little “smoking corner”. Now I am very allergic to cigarette smoke. Nonetheless, if I happened to have been out on the balcony when he came out to smoke, I would have to leave. This was, after all, his smoking place, and if I didn’t like it, I could simply go somewhere else! I often pleaded with him to not smoke, but he wouldn’t listen; and therefore, I was forced to go back in the house. Even there, however, the smoke still got to me. I would go to my mother then, tell her the problem, and she would give me permission to go outside for a walk in the fresh air where I would find relief.
In case you’re scratching your head right now and wondering what this has to do with Psalms 32, let me explain. When I sin, it is like I am on that balcony when my brother comes out and starts smoking. The smoke that I am allergic to is like the weight of sin on my shoulders, and just like my brother refused to go away, the guilt of that sin will not leave me. It is only when I asked my mother to go for a walk that I was able to get away from the smoke. In the same way, it is only by confessing my sin to my Heavenly Father that I am able to find relief from the guilt of unconfessed sin.
Finding yourself in the midst of the “smoke” of unconfessed sin? Turn to your Heavenly Daddy. Tell Him what happened and ask His forgiveness. When you do, you will soon find relief in the “fresh air” of forgiveness, for God will forgive, “…the guilt of my sin.”
In His love,
(To access the entire “The Sling for God” devotional series, please click here.)