Tuesday, September 20, 2011

conscience-stricken confession

But David's heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the LORD, "I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O LORD, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly."
2 Samuel 24:10

David knows he has willfully sinned against the Lord by the taking of a census of the fighting forces of Israel. The text is silent as to exactly why this was a sin. We do know that generally in the past any such census would have been done at God's command, and that is absent in this text. We also know that Joab provided advance warning to David concerning the wrongness of these actions, but David refused to listen to his general (2 Samuel 24:3-4). The census was performed clearly as an act of sin from that point onward.

Eventually after the final count reaches the throneroom nine months later, David is conscience-stricken over the sin he has committed against God and comes to the Lord in confession, begging to receive God's forgiveness for his sin. David's confession here is instructive. it gives insight into how we should deal with our own sin.

The terms in which David refers to his actions show us what confession involves. The first three words set the tone: "I have sinned..." David did not evade responsibility by calling his actions anything less than sin. He took full responsibility by adding the phrase "what I have done".

David also knew that only God could bring the healing of forgivenss and "take away the iniquity". He was appealing for God's mercy and grace to a sinner. He also realized that his actions were stupid and foolish. But that was the last way he talked about his sin. I find that insight to be challenging. Usually at war with my pride, I may concede an action as dumb, but not easily will I acknowledge it as sin. That needs to change if I am going to be a man of confession and change!

The power of Christianity lies in its tranformative ability to find God's grace and live in it. It comes by acknowledging our broken sinful selves and exchanging that life for the life of Christ. And it starts with honest confession of sin. Christians can't be apathetic when it comes to our own sin. We should still readily identify ourselves as sinners when we need to confess. It keeps God in proper perspective. Oh what a beauty of humble confession would adorn the church if such a real view of sin would mark our prayers, our commitments, and our lifestyles!

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

No comments: