Agreeing With God Against Ourselves

As Christ-followers, do we still need to acknowledge our sins? In the prayer Jesus himself taught his disciples, we find this request: “Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us” (Luke 11:4).

When repentance is part of the reconciliation process for human relationships (as described in Luke 17:3–4), why wouldn’t it be part of our relationship with our heavenly Father? Do we expect to remain close to him if we refuse to be honest about doing things he wouldn’t have wanted us to do?

In the January issue of The Lookout (I know I’m going back a bit, but it was a good article!), one author described confession as “agreeing with God against ourselves” (p. 39, “An Obedient Faith”). Yes, God already knows what we’ve done, but dealing with a fault requires first acknowledging it — agreeing that we were in the wrong. Without that admission, how can we begin to receive his grace or make a change?

Moreover, James suggests that we need to confess not only directly to God, but also to each other: “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed” (James 5:16). This is hard to do, and puzzling besides — what does physical healing have to do with it? All I can say here is that God chooses how to administer grace to us, and we choose whether or not to receive it.

When we come together, we may sing a song of confession, or one of the leaders may pray a prayer of confession on everyone’s behalf. You can think of this as part of the way in which worship services are like training wheels for our lives as Jesus’ disciples — not the full expression of our praise, prayer, fellowship, study, or giving; but a short time in which we get to do, and learn how to do, these things, along with each other.

I believe that confession is essential to our relationship with God. When his truth enters our lives, we must agree with him against ourselves in order to make space for his mercy and renewal.

David Mitchell,
Worship Arts Director