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How to Confess Your Sins

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
June 18, 2021 4:00 am

How to Confess Your Sins

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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If you come to God and you say, Lord, I need cleansing and I need forgiveness and I'm not too sure, you can handle it. This sin is more maybe than you can handle. Lord, I don't know if you've got the power to clean up this mess.

This is a major mess. No, the psalmist says, if you purify me, I'll be clean. And if you wash me, I will be whiter than snow. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. It's one of the first lessons new Christians learn. Sin needs to be confessed. But what does confession that pleases the Lord actually look like?

And why do you need to confess your day-to-day sins if they've already been forgiven? John MacArthur gives you answers today as he shows you how to maintain a thriving relationship with the Lord. John is exploring Psalm 51. It's a step-by-step blueprint for how to confess your sins.

That's also the title of our message. So open your Bible to Psalm 51 and here's John. I have found in my own life as a Christian, not particularly as a pastor or preacher, but in my own life before the Lord as a Christian that Psalm 51 is a place where you go very frequently because once you understand the scope, the intent, the content of this Psalm, it provides a pattern for confession, for repentance, for penitence. You go back to it again and again and flow through the marvelous, marvelous truths of this great Psalm.

And if I can deliver enough of it to you to make it the point of contact for your own confession in times of repentance, then it will serve you in a marvelous and blessed way. By way of introduction, the church, the true church, the church of Jesus Christ is the one and only organization where members meet regularly together to acknowledge themselves as miserable sinners. The true church of Jesus Christ in a sense is obsessed with sin. In fact, I believe the more mature a Christian is, the more mature a church is, the more obsessed with sin it is. I don't believe you grow spiritually out of that obsession.

I believe you grow spiritually into it. Churches which talk of good things only and never or rarely speak about sin or confess sin are not mature. They're immature. Individuals that talk little about sin, talk mostly about good things, are not filled with the attitude of confession and repentance, are not mature Christians. They are immature, not holy but usually unholy. This is the mark of maturity. This is the mark of spiritual virtue. This is the mark of godliness. This is the mark of holiness.

A shallow, insensitive, immature person would never be able to write Psalm 51. It flows out of the life and pen of one who loves God deeply and hates sin fiercely, even the sin that he sees in his own life. So any person who really knows God in a deep way, who genuinely communes with God, who is truly filled with the Holy Spirit, who spends time in the Word of God is deeply troubled about his or her sin.

And there is a certain obsession about it. He longs to confess, longs to repent, longs to enjoy forgiveness, longs to enjoy restoration. Such a man was David, not a spiritual novice, but spiritually mature. A man, it says, after God's own heart, a man who pursued the heart of God, who pursued the will of God, a man who hated sin, even his own sin. That's the kind of man we want to lead us into confession, a man who did sin but hated it, a man who was obsessed with his own guilt and wanted deliverance from it. He is the man who can teach us about matters of confession. This psalm then, Psalm 51, which is before us, bears the mark of deep guilt. It bears the mark of severe remorse over sin and it reveals the nature of true penitence, true repentance and true confession. True confession is, if it is to be a part of our lives, to be carefully understood.

And so if we were to understand what it means to confess our sins, we come to a psalm like this in order that we might learn. Now if we're going to properly confess our sins and follow the pattern of David, we have to view confession in three ways. We have to look at sin, we have to look at God, and we have to look at ourselves. And that's what he does.

Three-fold view. He views his sin properly, he views his God properly, and he views himself properly. Let's first of all look at his view of sin in the first five verses. Noting in verse 1, be gracious to me, O God.

Stop at that point briefly. What that says is the first thing you need to recognize about sin is it deserves deserves judgment. Sin deserves judgment. If you're going to truly confess your sin to God and be penitent and repentant, you have to acknowledge that you deserve to be judged and that's what that prayer implies. Be gracious to me, O God, simply means don't give me what I deserve.

Don't give me what I deserve. Give me grace. Overlook what I deserve. Sin deserves judgment by God who is holy and just and righteous. Sin deserves its wages, death and hell.

David is admitting, I know what I deserve. I know what my sin calls for, but God be gracious to me. Grace means I don't get what I deserve. Even now when in Christ you and I as Christians are forgiven, our sin still deserves judgment. And even though we've received full forgiveness in Christ, we don't deserve it. When we come to the Lord to confess our sin, we have to acknowledge that what we ask for is grace. What we ask for is mercy because we deserve judgment.

You must recognize it. You must recognize that any sin you commit is worthy of the judgment of God unto death and eternal hell. David understood it and he pleaded for grace. Secondly, if we are to have a proper view of sin, we realize it deserves judgment. Secondly, we also realize it appeals to love. It appeals to love. We have to plead for love.

We have to appeal to the love of God to overlook our sin and give us grace. And so he says, be gracious to me, O God, according to Thy loving kindness, according to the greatness of Thy compassion. He's pleading for tenderness. He's pleading for kindness. He's pleading for compassion. He's pleading for sympathy, great sympathy that will flow out of the love of God. There's no other appeal we can make but to God's love. Third thing, in having a proper view of sin, you must recognize that sin produces guilt. Sin produces guilt. He feels it.

Look what he says in verse 1 at the end. Blot out my transgressions. That's one way to say it. Here's another way. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity. Here's another way. And cleanse me from my sin.

Three ways he said the same thing. Blot out my transgressions. That's one word for evil. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity. That's a second word for evil.

Cleanse me from my sin. That's a third word for evil. He uses all the words for evil and he is implying the comprehensive problem that has fouled his life from which he desperately wants deliverance because it has made him blood guilty. He is really guilty before God. The one whose sin leaves such a deep, deep stain is the one who feels that only a total cleansing will suffice. And so as you come to confess your sin, you recognize that it deserves judgment, that it requires love and that it alleviates guilt. There's a fourth element that I see in his view of sin and this equally important to the others. Verse 3 and 4 tells us that he realizes that sin must acknowledge full responsibility. True confession realizes I deserve judgment, realizes I can appeal only to God's great love, realizes that I bear guilt from which I need relief, and realizes that I am fully responsible for my sin.

Look at verse 3. For I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me. Here is the proper attitude of a penitent, nobody to blame but me.

The personal pronoun, twice. My sin, my transgressions. Not your fault, God. Not the fault of the people around me, God. Not the fault of the system in which I live, God.

Not the fault of demons and Satan, God. My sin, my transgressions. And there is true penitence. If you come to God and you say, I know my sin deserves judgment, I appeal to love and I need relief from guilt, but God...I mean, after all, look at the people around me who made me do this.

Or look at Satan and how powerful, or the world system, or God, why did you ever let me get into that situation? Then there's no true penitence. True penitence embraces the fact that this sin is nobody's fault but mine...mine.

Furthermore, in verse 4, he takes it to its logical conclusion. Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned. Not only are you not responsible for it, but I have done it against you. I have defiled you. I have blighted you, blasphemed you, and done what is evil in your sight. You hate sin. You're never responsible for it.

And no circumstance which you allow ever brings blame on you for it. So I've sinned against you when I've done what is evil in your sight. Notice the end of verse 4. So that, and this is what he's driving at, you are justified when you speak and blameless when you judge.

What is he saying? He's saying, look, God, I have done it. It is my responsibility and my responsibility alone and totally so that if you react against it with certain words or with certain judgment, you have no blame for such as a holy reaction.

That's his point. He's exonerating God from any culpability when God strikes against him in chastening. This is a true penitent. God bears no blame for David's sin and therefore God bears no culpability when He strikes out in chastening against the sinner. We cannot blame anyone else for our sin. We cannot blame Satan for our sin.

And we cannot minimize our own responsibility to any degree and still have an honest confession. When you truly confess and acknowledge your sin, then you say to God in effect, go ahead and chasten me. You have every right to do it and I cannot impugn your holy character.

You've only done what I deserve. That gives glory to God. One final and fifth concept is in David's mind as he assesses sin. He looks at sin in true repentance and he says that the right view of sin, the true view of sin includes the knowledge that, fifthly, it proceeds from your proceeds from your nature. Verse 5, "'Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity and in sin, my mother conceived me.'"

What's he saying? He's saying, look, I'm a sinner from the start. Now this is a truthful assessment David has made about sin. This is exactly where true confession starts. "'I deserve judgment.'"

Point one. Two, "'I plea for love. I need deliverance from my guilt. I accept full responsibility and I can't help it.

I can't change myself. O God.'" That's a broken and a contrite heart, isn't it?

That's the stuff that a broken and a contrite heart is made of. That's where confession starts, the proper understanding of sin. Secondly, proper understanding of God. You have to also understand God. Look at verse 6. "'Several attributes of God are in David's mind. Behold, thou dost desire truth in the innermost being and in the hidden part, thou wilt make me no wisdom.'"

What's this? He says, God, You're holy. You're holy. You're not interested in external ceremonies. You're not interested in religious ritual. You're interested in the heart, the innermost being, the hidden part.

You're concerned about the inside. True confession acknowledges God's high standard of holiness, that God wants holy longings, holy motives, holy desires, a pure inside. Second attribute of God is God's power and I love this.

I just love it. He acknowledges the power of God to do what He can't do, that God is powerful enough to change Him, to cleanse Him. Look at verse 7. "'Purify me with hyssop.'"

That was a bush used to sprinkle blood and water in purification ceremonies. "'Purify me with hyssop.'" Now notice this confidence. "'And if you do that, I'll be clean.'" Purify Him. Then He says, wash me and if you do that, I'll be whiter than snow.

That's right. In other words, God, I know you are powerful enough to change me, to cleanse me, to wash me. I mean if you come to God and you say, Lord, I need cleansing and I need forgiveness and I'm not too sure, you can handle it. This sin is more maybe than you can handle. Lord, I don't know if you've got the power to clean up this mess. This is a major mess. I'm not sure you can handle this one. No, the psalmist says, look, if you purify me, I'll be clean. And if you wash me, I will be whiter than snow.

That's how powerful you are. Some doubt God's power to cleanse and change their sinful habits. David didn't doubt it at all. Third thing about God that he affirms is God's goodness, just God's goodness. In verse 8, "'Make me to hear joy and gladness, let the bones which thou hast broken rejoice.'" He knew God wanted Him happy. God is a good God and God receives pleasure when His children rejoice. That's His goodness.

That's His goodness. He had received God's chastening for His sin, but He knew that God wanted to relieve the burden. Hebrews 12 says that God chastens us for a while in order that He might give us a peaceable fruit of righteousness. But God is good and He wants His children happy and thankful and joyful, rejoicing.

David knew that. Lord, I want You to give me joy. I want You to give me gladness.

I want You to make me rejoice. Do you believe in that kind of God? When you go to confess your sin, you go to a holy God. You go to a powerful God who can make you clean.

You go to a God who is so good, He wants you to be restored because He wants you to be rejoicing. There was another attribute of God that David knew about and that was God's forgiveness. Verse 9, hide thy face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities. He knew that God was a forgiving God. Who is a pardoning God like Thee?

None, the prophet Micah says. He is confident that God forgives the true Confessor. He knows that if you confess your sins, God is faithful and just to forgive your sins.

He knows that. That's not just a New Testament truth, that's the character of God. For Thou, Lord, He says in Psalm 86, 5, art good and ready to forgive. He knew God was good and wanted Him rejoicing and God was ready and eager and able to forgive Him. He also knew that God was faithful...God was faithful. Verse 10, create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Thy presence and do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me. He's confident in God's faithfulness. If you ask God for something, He'll give it. If He promises He'll be with you, He won't leave.

If He gives you His Spirit, He won't take Him back. Here is His trust in what I love to call the sovereign faithfulness of God. Not only is He faithful to what He promises, but He is sovereignly able to complete and accomplish what that faithfulness demands. He knew God was faithful, that God would give Him a clean heart if He asked, that God would renew that steadfast Spirit and not take away His presence and not remove His Spirit.

God had made a covenant with Him. God had said, I'm going to make you one of My own. I'm going to give you My Spirit. We're going to have a relationship and if you come to Me, I'll reaffirm that relationship. I'll be faithful to it.

You might not always be, but when you come back, I'll be there...I'll be there. What is it that we need to understand about God when we come to confess our sins? That God is holy, that God is powerful, that He's good, that He's forgiving, that He's faithful. Lastly, the penitent sinner needs to understand something about himself...something about himself. He needs to understand that he's significant to God. That's right, significant.

You say you mean us, that's right. You're significant to God. He saved you for a purpose. The reason you're alive is so that He can find some purpose for you, use you, otherwise He could just take you to heaven.

And what is that purpose? Well, go back to verse 12, restore to Me the joy of Thy salvation and sustain Me with a willing spirit. Lord, make Me like You want Me, a spirit that's willing to do Your will, full of the joy of My salvation. That's what happens when you get cleansed.

Why? Then I will teach transgressors Thy ways and sinners will be converted to Thee. Number one, Lord, I've got to take a look at myself because I'm important for the sake of sinners. That's point one, for the sake of sinners. I have to teach them Your ways and I have to see them converted to You and I can't do that unless I have the joy of My salvation and a willing and obedient spirit. Lord, You have to do Your work in Me so that I'm useful for sinners. God wants you to confess your sin, dear friend, for the sake of sinners so that you can be useful to sinners. Secondly, not only for the sake of sinners, but are you ready for this? For the sake of God Himself. You say, for the sake of God?

What do you mean by that? Look at verse 14. Deliver Me from blood guiltiness, O God, Thou God of My salvation. Why? Then My tongue will not only teach transgressors and convert sinners, but then My tongue will joyfully sing of Thy righteousness.

What does this mean? Then I can worship You. Then I can adore You. Then I can praise You. Then I can glorify You. So it says in verse 15, O Lord, open My lips that My mouth may declare Thy praise, Thy praise. For You, You don't delight in sacrifice or I would give it.

That's just external. You're not pleased with a burnt offering that's just on the outside. What You want is a broken spirit, a broken, a contrite heart, O God, You won't despise.

And the second point is this, I've got to get my life right so my relationship to You is right. So I can praise You and so that You'll receive Me and You'll delight in Me and You'll respond to Me and I'll be giving You what I want and our fellowship will be sweet. So we might say, confess your sin for the sinner's sake and for God's sake.

And thirdly, for the sake of the saints, where's that? Verse 18 and 19, here He begins to intercede by Thy favor, do good to Zion, build the walls of Jerusalem. He's praying.

He's praying here. Then You will delight in righteous sacrifices, not just external ones. And then burnt offering and whole burnt offering will please You and then young bulls will really be offered on Your altar. In other words, revive Your people, build Your city, build Your nation. Lord, restore it all, the walls of Jerusalem. Zion, Your people, the righteous sacrifices, O God, bring a revival.

That's what He's saying. This is a comprehensive view of God's plan for the confession of sin. That's John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. Today's lesson on Grace to You showed you how to confess your sins. John, we spent a lot of time looking at the crushing nature of sin, because the Bible does. Sin is horrible and powerful and we need to never let our guard down against it. But the thing we can't lose sight of is this, with the exception of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, sin is forgivable in all of its categories, no matter how extreme. And John, I know you would say that God rejoices in saving people who are engaged in even the most destructive kinds of sin.

Yeah, that's absolutely right. And what do you say to someone? All sin is destructive. All sin damns people to hell. All sin is forgivable. So how do you present the gospel?

Let me just give you some simple things to start with. You call the sinner to understand the need for repentance and the cost of repentance. That's where you start. You start by saying you're a sinner, whatever your sin is. You might be a homosexual, but that's not the only sin. So you start by saying you must repent of your sin and count the cost of that repentance. And the Bible says the cost of that repentance is to turn from your sin and cry out to God for forgiveness. The next thing is you explain to people that forgiveness is available through faith in Jesus Christ. And at that point, you talk about the gospel and how Christ lived a righteous life, died a substitutionary death, rose from the grave, having paid in full the penalty for the sins of all who would believe, and you give him the gospel. And at that point, you say you need to repent and believe the gospel, and then I would add this, and you need to do it now. You need to do it right now.

It's not something you want to think about. It's something you want to do now. And when you have given them both the call to repentance and explained to them the gospel and used the Bible to explain the gospel, then you encourage them to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. And I said this a few weeks ago when I was preaching. You tell them with joy, if you repent and believe the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, you will receive forgiveness and eternal life.

You tell them that with joy. And then you tell them that they, in believing, become a part of the redeemed church, and they'll be gathered together with other believers in Christ, both in time and eternity, and make them know how important life in the church is. That's right, and thank you, Jon, for reminding us of the great truths in the gospel. And of course, friend, is there anything more important than knowing the full and accurate gospel and responding to it? With that in mind, let me encourage you to get Jon's classic book called The Gospel According to Jesus.

Jon spells out misconceptions about the gospel Jesus proclaimed. He explains what Jesus meant when he said, follow me. To purchase your copy, contact us today. You can call us toll free at 800-55-GRACE or order at our website, The Gospel According to Jesus answers questions like, can you believe the facts about Jesus but not have saving faith?

And what does a life transformed by Christ look like? It's a book you'll want to share with others, especially new believers. Again, to place your order, call 800-55-GRACE or go to our website, And while you're at, make sure to take advantage of all the free Bible study tools you will find there. For example, at the Grace To You blog, you can read practical articles on subjects like salvation, spiritual growth, spiritual gifts. The website also has daily devotionals written by Jon, or you can download all of Jon's sermons for free.

All of those resources are at Now for Jon MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson inviting you back on Monday when Jon takes you to Spiritual Boot Camp. That's the title of his study that will help you develop some fundamental disciplines that will make you more like Christ. Be here for another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-02 22:52:53 / 2023-11-02 23:02:57 / 10

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