Nehemiah 9: 1-38
Sermon by Pastor Josh Van Leeuwen
Introduction by Phyllis Yearick
Confession may be good for the soul, but it’s tough on the ego. No doubt that’s by design or necessity or both. We can’t be repentant and self-satisfied at the same time. Confessing our sins requires us to check our egos at the prayer closet door. Admitting we were wrong is not enjoyable, but it is liberating. Remember the Samaritan woman who met Jesus at the well and how excited she was to have her sinful lifestyle revealed? “Come,” she called to the others in her village, “and see a man who told me everything I ever did!”
If God already knows everything we do, why must we confess our sins?
When you’ve been wronged, the offender’s refusal to acknowledge guilt just piles insult on the injury, doesn’t it? Parents know this all too well. A child commits a forbidden act, sometimes in full sight of a parent, but then denies or pretends not to know what he or she has done. Trying to reason with the child is futile. Until the child acknowledges the deed, taking ownership of it, the parent is wasting the effort. Owning our misdeeds requires humility. God knows our sins, but he wants us to admit that we know them, too; if we don’t, either we live a lie, truly believing we are innocent, or we endure the shame of secret sin.
God wants us to be free, not chained to a false self or to a life of shame. Only by owning our sin and confessing it to him can we be reminded that we are his children, subject to both his judgment and his mercy. The parent who never disciplines a child is not a very good parent and isn’t doing the child any favors. There might be civil penalties or other consequences for our wrongdoing, but when we confess our sins, God forgives us. He hits the delete key, giving us a clean page on which to resume our life’s story a little wiser and a little more humble.
In a society that values high self-esteem at any cost, admitting we’re wrong is not exactly encouraged. But if everyone knew the freedom we can have through repentance, perhaps more would embrace confession as an offering to God, a means of discipline and growth. David wrote in Psalm 51: 17, “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” When we own our wrongdoing and present it to God with a contrite heart, we acknowledge our weaknesses, our failures, and our unholiness. Only then can God cleanse us of our sins and allow us to begin again, free to worship, free to serve, free to shine his light to the world.
You are welcome at Westview Church! Join us this Sunday morning at 9:30 for worship. (Discovery Hour is on summer break, but during the service children ages four through second grade are invited to Children’s Worship, and nursery care is available for littlest ones.)