The whole world was made aware of the confessions of Lance Armstrong who admitted that he used performance-enhancing drugs during most of his famed cycling career. Most viewers rejected his confessions. Many said that it was typical of Armstrong’s face-saving antics. Some took his confessions as a joke, while others, like the anti-doping organization of USA (USADA), said that his admission is ‘a small step in the right direction’. Here are some of the observations made after Armstrong’s apologies were televised. “He didn’t cry properly. He didn’t give a full confession. He didn’t lose the ‘attitude’.”
When we look at the Bible, we find another man who confessed his sin in Psalm 51 many years ago. The superscription of the psalm says, “A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba (2 Sam. 12)” Let’s find out what makes David’s ‘mea culpa’ acceptable to God. For in this Psalm, he published his confession and shared how he found forgiveness from God as a testimony to God’s forgiving grace so that we who sinned may also find God’s mercy through genuine confession.
First, true confession is theocentric (God-centred). Our sins have to do with a holy God. “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment” (Psa. 51: 3, 4). After Nathan confronted him with his adultery and murder, David owned up to his heinous crimes. He confessed. He did not gloss over or offer excuses for his transgressions.
Second, confession that is acceptable to God must be specific and thorough. David confessed ‘my transgressions’ (Ps. 51: 1, 3); ‘my sins’ (vs. 2, 3, 9); ‘my iniquities’ (vs. 2, 9); ‘I have sinned and done what is evil in your sight’ (vs. 4); “Deliver me from bloodguiltiness” (vs. 14).
Third, true confession must come from a deeply contrite and repentant heart (vs. 6, 10) These 2 verses deal with the root and inner spring of the heart. God requires a broken and contrite spirit and not outward animal sacrifices (vs. 17). It will not just be words, but it will be accompanied with heartfelt sorrow and tears of repentance.
Fourth, true confession involves a fervent cry to God for mercy and grace. The entire Psalm is replete with cries for deliverance and mercy (vs.1, 2, 7-12, 14).
Fifth, when a man truly confesses his sins and experiences God’s forgiveness, he will offer both thanksgiving and praise to God gladly. He will give all the glory and honour to God.
Finally, a God honoring confession will result in a transformed life of joyful service to God (vs. 13-15; 19).
May our Lord grant us His grace to walk humbly before Him.
Rev. Mark Tay