by Paul David Tripp
Confession is a grace. Only grace can convince you to abandon your righteousness and run to the merciful arms of the Lord.
Confession is not natural for us. It’s natural for us to think of ourselves as more righteous than we are. It’s natural to blame our wrongs on others. It’s natural to say our behavior was caused by some difficult circumstance we were in. It’s natural to exercise our inner lawyers and defend ourselves when we’re confronted with a sin, weakness, or failure. It’s natural to turn the tables when being confronted and tell our accusers that they are surely bigger sinners than we are. It’s natural to see ourselves more as law keepers than as lawbreakers. It’s natural to point to our biblical literacy or theological knowledge as proof of our spiritual maturity. It’s natural to be more concerned about the sin of others than our own. It’s natural to be more critical of the attitudes and behavior of others than our own. It’s natural for you and me to be blind to the depth of our spiritual need.
Because this sturdy system of self-righteousness is natural for every sinner, it is unnatural for us to be clear-sighted, humble, self-examining, and ready to confess. Blind eyes and a self-satisfied, self-congratulatory heart stand in the way of the broken heart of confession. We don’t grieve our sin because we don’t see it. It is ironic that we tend to see the righteousness we don’t have and we fail to see the sin that stains every day of our lives.
Here’s how confession works. You cannot confess what you haven’t grieved, you can’t grieve what you do not see, and you cannot repent of what you have not confessed. So one of the most important operations of God’s grace is to give us eyes to see our sin and hearts that are willing to confess it. If your eyes are open and you see yourself with accuracy, and if your heart is humbly willing to admit to what your eyes see, you know that glorious, rescuing, forgiving, and transforming grace has visited you. Why? Because what you’re doing is simply not natural for sinners. In the face of their sin, Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the Serpent, and both of them hid, but neither stepped forward and made willing and heartfelt confession.
So cry out today for eyes to see, that is, for accurate personal insight. Cry out for the defenses of your heart to come down. Ask God to defeat your fear of being exposed, of being known. Cry for the grace to be willing to stop, look, listen, receive, grieve, confess, and turn. Stand with courage and hope before the searching and exposing mirror of the Word of God, and be unafraid. Stand naked before God and know that all that is exposed has been fully and completely covered by the shed blood of your Savior. Because of him, you don’t need to be afraid of your unrighteousness; no, it is your delusions of righteousness that are the grave danger.
For further study and encouragement: Acts 3:11–28
From New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional by Paul David Tripp