“Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” Psalm 51:2
Confessing sin isn’t informing God of something He doesn’t know. We cannot hide what we think, say, or do from the Lord. So, if God already knows our sins, why confess them? Confession isn’t a technicality to secure forgiveness. Words are just words unless they’re sincere. Walking through David’s prayer of repentance, we see three indications of heartfelt confession.
First, David took responsibility for his sinful choices. “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me” (v3). David didn’t make excuses by blaming others or his circumstances. He simply came clean with God. When we’re caught in a sin, we often try to ease the shame by explaining our actions. But even the smallest rationalization compromises a well-intentioned confession. Owning up to our sin is essential to repentance.
David also knew that his sin was an act of rebellion against the Lord. “Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight” (v4). Even though his actions hurt others greatly, David’s sin grieved God most. Our sin is personal to God because His Son paid its price, revealing the depth of His love. When we rebel, by choosing sin over pleasing Him, it grieves the heart of God. Likewise, if we truly love God then personal sin causes sorrow. After all, grief is always born out of love.
Thirdly, David recognized the Lord as his just and sovereign judge. “You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge” (v4). Neither David’s position as king nor his past obedience gave him the right to indulge in disobedience. So, David came to God broken and empty of all personal accomplishments. He was a sinner begging for mercy before the throne of grace.
God is just in responding to sin however He wishes. Yet, in Christ, we can confidently seek God’s mercy, both during temptation and if we fail. “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
So, if God already knows our sins, why confess them? Because we get clean by coming clean. Confession requires agreeing with God about our sin. What sinful thought, attitude, or habit has God brought to mind? Don’t live another day trying to cover it up. See your sin the way God sees it. Let sorrow and brokenness lead you to heartfelt repentance. As believers, we can approach God as a loving and forgiving Father.