Updated: Dec 15, 2020
Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless,and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:12-14 ESV
I’ve heard it said that we should repent of all our sins even the sins we don’t know about. Yes, we should confess & forsake all our sins but how do we repent of the sins of which we aren’t even aware?
David seemed to imply that knowing all the lurking sins in his heart was beyond him. So one thing David did do is pray that God would cleanse him from hidden faults and keep him from presumptuous sins. He prayed that his own thoughts and words would be pleasing to God (Psalm 19:14). He also asked the Lord to search him and reveal any hurtful or grievous way in him (Psalm 139:24). We need the help of God, who knows all things (1 John 3:20), to search us and reveal the areas of sin in our lives. He will graciously do this if we ask him. And if we really care enough about repentance and pleasing God then we will ask him to search us, reveal sin in us and lead us in the way everlasting!
Pastor Tim Keller said that “We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” Understanding this is what will help us to see God’s grace as amazing and lead us to freedom from guilt and shame, yet at the same time face reality of our brokenness with honesty and confession.
There have been times that I’ve felt a lingering sense of guilt or disconnect from God but I wasn’t able to identify a specific area of sin. One question that I’ve found helpful to ask God in those moments is: “Father, what is your most pressing issue with me today?”
In response to that prayer the Holy Spirit has been faithful to show me specific areas of sin to confess and forsake so that I can properly take responsibility for sins that have damaged relationships. God is never surprised by our sinfulness though we might be caught off guard by the how flawed and sinful we are. When the Lord reveals an area of sin in our lives to us it’s our opportunity to embrace and believe the gospel for ourselves afresh. It’s our opportunity to apply the powerful truth of 1 John 1:9, which I call the “Christian’s bar of soap”. It says:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 ESV
This verse is good news for the guilty and ashamed. May we become those who continue to shorten the gap of time between the moment we sin and the moment we confess our sins so that we can experience more of the abundant life that Jesus has for us.