This exercise has been very helpful in my walk with Chris Jesus. Some have said it sounds icky and possibly even legalistic. It was not created to be legalistic. I created it for myself as an exercise to fine tune my walk with Christ. It shows me when I am straying off the path that God created for me to walk and brings me back in line with His will for my life. If you have another method of correcting your course, that’s great. Feel free to share it in the comment section. If you don’t, here’s one option that is supported by scripture.
Have you lost the “joy of your salvation (Psalm 51:12)?” Do you feel a distance between yourself and God? We all have a propensity to sin. The Bible says we have a sin nature. Because our sin is always before us (Psalm 51:3), there is a good chance you have unrepented sin. When you do, God wants to restore the joy to you that is your birthright as a Christian. That joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit’s work in your life (Galatians 5:22-23).
This exercise will guide you through scripture verses to help you identify sin in different areas of your life so you can call out to Him in repentance and receive the joy God desires for you.
Confession is not meant to be an event where God or anyone else rebukes you. Confession is a time to take inventory of your sins, admit your inability to live a sinless life on your own and accept God’s love and mercy because Jesus already paid the price for your sins. Scripture says, “Through the Lord Jesus, God reconciled everything to himself (Colossians 1:20).” “He has rescued you from the darkness of sin and transferred you into the kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased your freedom and forgave your sins (Colossians 1:13).” Therefore, “Come to the Lord God to be washed clean of your sins (Isaiah 1:16).”
Jesus taught us to be humbled by our sin nature. The first beatitude Jesus taught in his famous Sermon on the Mount was to be poor in spirit. To be poor in spirit means to recognize you can do nothing righteous on your own. To be poor in spirit is the foundation of a Christian’s relationship with God because it recognizes that you depend on the Spirit of God to live the righteous life God planned for you. Jesus will lead you to be poor in spirit if you measure yourself using the laws, commands, and examples of righteous living found in scripture, instead of measuring yourself by your own worldly standards. Using these truths as a measuring stick will lead you to Christ-like humility.
This exercise uses the Tender Commandments as a guide. That’s right, Tender Commandments. The Ten Commandments are often viewed as a list of rules created to catch us in the act of wrongdoing so God can cast down judgment on us. They are meant to be viewed as a tender love-letter from a wise, all-knowing Father to protect us from the consequences of our own moral weakness and guide our thinking and actions in every day. When you understand them this way, you might also come to see them as the Tender Commandments. For a fuller understanding of the tender commandments, read the short book, “The Tender Commandments” by Ron Mehl.
Before you begin this time of reflection, it is worthwhile to understand Jesus’ teaching about the intent of God’s laws. In Matthew 5:17-20, Jesus said, “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Jesus continued by saying, “But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:17-20).”
Jesus wasn’t teaching that the way to heaven is to follow God’s laws. God’s laws were given to show us how depraved we are and point out our need for a savior. The laws point us to Jesus. Once you come to Jesus, the laws will help keep you relying on the grace and mercy that comes only through Jesus. The laws will keep you depending on the counsel and guidance of the Holy Spirit living within you. They will help you become and stay spiritually humble and poor in spirit.
An Act Of Confession
Ask God to Reveal Sin
None of us knows our own heart as well as God knows our heart. Begin by asking God to reveal your sin. King David did this when he prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life (Psalms 139:23-24).”
Take inventory of your sins using Gods Tender Commandments
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn over their sins, for they shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4).” As you go through the following steps using the Tender Commandments, ask the Holy Spirit to point out where you fall short and to give you a heart that grieves your sins so that you will be motivated to change to avoid them in the future.
When God spoke his commands into being:
1. God said, “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. You must not have any other god but me (Exodus 20:2-3).”
Ask God: Lord, what am I seeking or pursuing now with more vigor than my relationship with You?
2. God said, “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods (Exodus 20:4-6).”
Ask God: Lord, what do I idolize? Is it money, financial security, recognition, stature, cars, a house, or any other pleasures or pursuits?
3. God said, “You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name (Exodus 20:7).”
Ask God: Lord, when have I used Your name in any way that diminishes the magnitude of Your goodness, mercy, grace, or power? When have I neglected to use Your name when doing so would have revealed Your glory to others?
4. God said, “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy (Exodus 20:8-11).”
Ask God: Lord, how am I neglecting or misusing the days in every week You give me? What would it look like for me to dedicate one day a week to You?
5. God said, “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you (Exodus 20:12).”
Ask God: Father, when have I neglected to honor my parents. What could I do that would give thanks to them for their part in Your plan for my life?
6. God said, “You must not murder (Exodus 20:13).”
Ask God: Lord, when have I become angry with someone, lashed out at or called them names? When have I cursed someone instead of loving them unconditionally like You love me? Show me examples of meekness so I may become meek and win the right to share Your saving grace to others.
7. God said, “You must not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14).”
Ask God: Lord, when have I looked lustfully at a person who is not my spouse? When have I lusted for an intimate relationship with anyone over my relationship with the triune God?
8. God said, “You must not steal (Exodus 20:15).”
Ask God: Lord, when have I taken what isn’t mine or neglected to share what You’ve given me with those who are truly in need?
9. God said, “You must not testify falsely against your neighbor (Exodus 20:16).”
Ask God: Lord, when have I spoken falsely about another person? When have I whispered evil suggestions or sly insinuations with the intent to cause others to question the character of someone else especially for my personal gain?
10. God said, “You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.” In other words, you must not covet (Exodus 20:17).”
Ask God: Lord, in what areas of my life am I so dissatisfied with what You have given me that I lust for what You have given others? Do I wish my spouse was more like someone else? Do I wish I lived in a better house or drove a better car because of what I see that others possess? What do I continue to covet that You have already shown me is not in Your will for my life?
Now that you have taken inventory of your sins and laid them at the altar of God, know that when you confess your sins to God, He is faithful and just to forgive your sins and cleanse you from all your sinful ways (1 John1:9). Therefore, draw near to the Lord with full assurance in faith that your sins have been sprinkled clean, your body has been washed with the purest water and your conscience is set free from the guilt of your sins (Hebrews 10:22). For God said, I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you (Ezekiel 36:25 ).
Finish in Prayer
David prayed to ask God to cleanse him of his sins and to change his heart’s desires which are the root of all sins. End your time of confession with a prayer similar to David’s prayer in Psalms 51 or 32 (below). Then, rejoice that Jesus made it possible for you to be spotless in the sight of God.
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence …
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
“Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.”
Now, rest in the knowledge that “the Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”