At the WorshipGod06 Conference on Friday night, we read through a public confession of sin, based on a number of the ten commandments. The purpose was not to “grovel in our sin,” but to heighten our awareness of and gratefulness for what Jesus accomplished at the cross. We followed up this confession with Scriptures and songs that celebrated the full forgiveness provided in the substitutionary sacrifice of the Savior. In essence, we preached the Gospel to ourselves.
We excel at justifying, minimizing, psychologizing, and denying sin and its effects. But regardless of how we try to avoid it, we can’t escape the reality that every sin is an act of cosmic defiance against a supreme, holy, and just God. Here is what we called to mind (I recited the words in italics):
Holy and righteous God, we confess that like Isaiah, we are a people of unclean lips. But it is not only unclean lips we possess. We are people with unclean hands and unclean hearts. We have broken your law times without number, and are guilty of pride, unbelief, self-centeredness and idolatry. Affect our hearts with the severity of our sin and the glory of your righteousness as we now acknowledge our sins in your holy presence.
We have had other gods before you.
We have worshipped and served the creature rather than the creator.
We have sought satisfaction in this world’s pleasures rather than in You.
We have loved to praise our own glory more than yours.
We have taken your name in vain.
We have prayed religious prayers to impress others.
We have uttered your name countless times without reverence or love.
We have listened to others use your name in vain without grieving.
We have murdered in our hearts.
We have often destroyed our neighbor with our tongues.
We have been quick to uncharitably judge others.
We have considered revenge when we were sinned against.
We have committed adultery with our eyes.
We have loved temptation rather than fighting it.
We have lusted after unlawful and immoral pleasures.
We have justified our lusts by using the world as our standard.
We have stolen what is not ours and coveted what belongs to others.
Our lives overflow with discontent, ungratefulness, and envy.
We have complained in the midst of Your abundant provision.
We have sought to exalt ourselves through owning more.
We have lied to you and to others.
We have told distorted truths, half-truths, and untruths.
We have despised the truth to make ourselves look better.
Even in our confession, we look for ways to hide our guilt.
O God, we have sinned against your mercy times without number. We are ashamed to lift up our faces before you, for our iniquities have gone over our heads. If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? How shall we answer you? We lay our hands on our mouths. We have no answer to your righteous wrath and just judgment.
We have no answer. But God Himself has mercifully provided one for us.
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Is. 53:6)