How to Confess Your Sins

Have you ever been caught in a transgression? For me, my mind immediately returns to a dark time in my life when I was an adolescent. I grew up learning the truths of Scripture, heavily involved in church and was a leader amongst my peers in high school. On the outside, people knew me as the “good Christian girl.” But behind closed doors, I wrestled with my faith. I wanted to believe that God loved me, and I wanted to be satisfied in His love. However, my eyes wandered, and I found myself trying to fill the void in my heart with attention and affirmation from the wrong people.

One sin led to the next until I found myself in a pit, and I could not get out. I was ashamed of my actions and afraid of the repercussions my choices would have on my reputation, my family, my church, my friends. The Lord, in His grace, gave me many opportunities to come clean, but I was afraid. Confession would be the hard road. To be caught in the sin would be the harder road — the road I ended up on.

I still remember the incredible brokenness I felt when my parents discovered the life I had concealed from them. Shame. Guilt. Heartbreak. It was in that moment of the Lord shined His light over the darkest corners of my life that I had to choose to continue to hide behind my sin or accept repentance and ultimately come clean and confess.

In Psalm 51, after the prophet Nathan confronts David about David’s sin with Bathsheba, David writes from a place of immense brokenness. David, a man after God’s own heart, found himself caught in a transgression that broke the Lord’s heart. 2 Samuel 11:27, says:

“And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.”

He committed a great sin, and what we see in the story is that he avoided repentance, and instead, proceeded to deceive the nation of Israel by covering his sin. God, on the other hand, knew it all and was displeased. It wasn’t until being confronted by Nathan that David finally comes to a place of repentance and writes Psalm 51. This Psalm is one I cherish and have often prayed. I think what I find so beautiful about the story of David is it reveals the character of our God.

He is a holy God who does not stand for sin.

He is a patient God who waits for our repentance.

He is a just God who disciplines His children.

He is a merciful God who gives us a way out through His Son Jesus.

He is a loving God who gives us second chances and heals broken hearts.

In Psalm 51, David pours out his heart and journey back to the presence of God. This Psalm teaches us that cleansing and joy come through confession. I know this to be true from my own life, and the same life-giving truth is available to you. The journey back to the presence of God requires a few things:

1️⃣ Know and own your sin (vv.3–6)

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. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

I had known my sin, and as the passage says, it was ever before me like a dark cloud from which I could never hide. The portion I failed to do repeatedly was own my sin. Before God exposed my sin, I viewed His forgiveness as a vending machine. I played with sin naïve to the consequences and effects it had on me. Like any drug, I chased the momentary high, but internally there was a slow decay and rotting of my spirit.

God’s patience ran out, and I experienced in trembling fear, how holy and powerful God is as He shined a bright light on me. Like Adam and Eve in Eden, who, after sinning, became aware of their nakedness and felt ashamed and exposed, attempting to hide from God, I found myself wanting to take shelter beneath the trees. But there is no hiding from God.

It was there I learned to fear the Lord, to believe He is who He says He is. I surrendered and laid down my sins before His throne. I confessed everything to my parents. I owned my sin.

2️⃣ Beg for inner transformation (vv.7–12)

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Then started the journey that forever changed my life. Confession led to forgiveness. I’ll never forget the incredible love my parents showed me in that season. They were heartbroken, yes, but somehow by the Lord’s power, they were able to forgive me. I remember my father, who looked at me, eyes filled with tears, and told me that he forgave me and loved me. We prayed together, on our knees, and I was changed forever by that moment.

To me, this humble demonstration of love by my earthly father gave me a tangible picture of God’s love for us. Did I deserve forgiveness? No. Did I deserve this kind of love after hurting them so deeply? No. Did I receive forgiveness and love? Yes, because that is the heart of our Father.

There were days at the beginning of my journey back into the presence of God that I wondered if I would ever hear joy and gladness again. But God in His grace, carried me through those dark days, offering glimpses of hope and restoration that kept me going. I began to pray more fervently, specifically verses 10–12, asking God to create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me, to restore the joy of my salvation. Praise God, He delivered.

3️⃣ Celebrate God’s Salvation (vv.13–17)

Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

It took time, my heart healed, and like any broken bone, it was stronger as it healed. It was as though I had removed the bandages over my eyes, and I could see more clearly, and the world was filled with color again. A newly placed song was in my heart, and I desperately wanted to share it with the world. I dedicated my life after that to serving God and making Him known through my life.

I look back at those days of restoration and repentance, and I thank God for them. I thank God for His deliverance and continued grace that pours over my life. To know this kind of love and experience, this kind of healing is unlike anything else.

Maybe you find yourself in a dark place, harboring sin, afraid of what would happen if you practiced confession and came clean. But I want you to know that our Father is not the kind of judge who will leave you in your brokenness. The same mercy, love, and restoration God offered to David, He offers to you and me. There is light at the end of confession, cleaning and joy to all who call to Him in truth.

Written by: Stephanie McGraw, Woodside Leadership Institute Director
Published by Woodside Bible Church,
www.woodsidebible.org

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