Conviction and Confession (Ps. 32)

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

Psalm 32:3-5 ESV

In scouring the Bible passages about being found, I discovered Psalm 32:3-5. The description in verses 3-4 is the effect of conviction on the soul and body before the psalmist confessed to God. God mercifully makes us aware of our condition and we experience how the condition robs us of strength. Day and night He presses on us and we are not content. We groan, and our quality of life lessens.

  1. Bones wasted away
  2. Groaning all day
  3. Day and night, the heavy hand of God
  4. Strength dried up

Then, finally, a confession. After acknowledgement and confession, verse 5 describes the intent of confession. The psalmist speaks up, and brings his sin into the light. He confesses. He chooses to confess, and God forgives. There is the suggestion of relief coming with God’s forgiveness. 

  1. Acknowledgement of sin
  2. No cover-up of iniquity
  3. Act of will
  4. Forgiveness from God

And get this — the psalmist wrote this BEFORE the finished work of Jesus Christ! Today, we may hang our hat on verses like 1 John 1:9. However, I want to expand the emphasis to a passage, and include verses 5-10.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (ESV) (emphasis added)

Notice the point of the passage is not the conviction nor the confession, but God’s light (v. 5) and our walk (fellowship) in that light. Right confession with wrong walk makes us lying, deceived creatures with no truth nor Word in us. Yikes! Note the similarity in verses 8 and 10 — we can say we have no sin at all, and we can simply not admit to “that” sin. 

  • (v. 6) We may confess light while we walk in darkness. The result: 1) we lie and 2) do not practice truth. 
  • (v. 8) We may say we have no sin. The result: 1) we deceive ourselves and 2) the truth has no home in us.
  • (v. 10) We may say we have not sinned. The result: 1) we make God a liar and 2) His Word has no home in us.
Photo by Shalone Cason on Unsplash

We can twist doctrine any way we want to suit our comfort, and the comfort of those we care about but two things are clear from Psalm 32:3-5 and 1 John 1:5-10. Firstly, conviction must exist to reveal to us our need for God. Secondly, there must be a confession to God. 

  • (v. 7) If we walk in God’s light then we can have fellowship with each other AND the blood of Jesus cleanses from all sin.
  • (v.9) Confession of sin results in God’s forgiveness and cleansing from all unrighteousness…because God is faithful and just. God is faithful to the system He put in place and He is just concerning sin. He took care of it Himself, in the flesh, in Christ.

Where the psalmist declared his will to acknowledge His sin to God (Ps. 32:5), we have the beautiful opportunity for a walk with God in light, in truth, and in fellowship with each other. This is beautifully mind-boggling! When we speak of sin, it is not the sin that precedes our initial conversions. No. This is the reference to the daily misses that occur, and in relationship, in truth and light, we bring those missteps to the Father.

And because He is faithful — not faithful to us, mind you — and just He forgives and cleanses and washes. There is always a choice to make. Daily and throughout the day, life and death are set before us. The desire of God is that we choose life, but reality says that on the journey we get dirty — in body, in soul, in mind, in practice — and we need to be washed. When things get muddled in our human interactions and fellowship is interrupted, we say we need a “come to Jesus meeting.” It’s not much different from that. 

So when we find ourselves grieving over a missed mark, let us not stay in that place too long where we lose our vitality and groan all day. But let us own it, bring it to God in His light, receive the restorative forgiveness of our Father and MOVE AHEAD.

Shaunta D. Scroggins is the lead contributor to The Bereans’ Commentary.

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