Why Do We Confess? Inspiration from the High Calling

Why Do We Confess?

Like our ancestors, we have sinned.
We have done wrong! We have acted wickedly!

For the most part, Psalm 106 in an extended confession of sin. The anonymous writer begins by saying “Like our ancestors, we have sinned. We have done wrong! We have acted wickedly!” (106:6). Then, for the next 34 verses, he chronicles some of Israel’s most conspicuous and grievous sins.

Why did the psalmist do this? Why did he tell God what God already knew by confessing the sins of Israel? What good did this accomplish?

And, for us, should we confess our sins? If so, why? Given that God already knows all that we have done, and given that we are forgiven through Christ’s death and nothing that we do, why bother with confession?

A quick answer to this question might simply quote biblical imperatives that tell us to confess our sins (for example, James 5:16). Or, we might note that people throughout Scripture confess their sins, so we should follow their example.

But, deeper reflection suggests that, as the saying goes, “confession is good for the soul,” and even more than just the soul. Truly, our forgiveness comes from God’s grace in Christ, expressed in Christ’s death for us. We don’t earn forgiveness by confessing. But, when we tell God what we have done to dishonor him, we open our souls to receiving our forgiveness in ways we can comprehend. What is ours in truth becomes ours in experience.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What difference has confession of sin made in your life? Has it helped you to experience God’s grace? What if you took some time today to confess?

PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for the example of Psalm 106. I appreciate this example of confession. It reminds me of the freedom and joy that comes through confessing my sin. And, frankly, it reminds me that I’m overdue for a time of extended confession.

I thank you that my forgiveness rests on your grace in Christ, not on anything I do, including confession. But when I confess, Lord, I avail myself of what your grace offers. I am reassured of my forgiveness and I am freed from the grip of guilt on my heart.

All praise be to you, gracious, forgiving, merciful God. I pray in the name of Jesus, my Savior. Amen.


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This devotional comes from The High Calling: Everyday Conversations about Work, Life, and God (www.thehighcalling.org). You can read my Daily Reflections there, or sign up to have them sent to your email inbox each day. This website contains lots of encouragement for people who are trying to live out their faith in the workplace. The High Calling is associated with Laity Lodge, where I work.

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