Sunday, May 06, 2012

The Meaning of Confession

Earlier, and often, I have written about the shallowness of much evangelical teaching.  Its shallowness has several facets (mixed metaphor, I fear) but one has to do with its closeted selfishness, me-ness.

All my life I have heard, "God will not answer or hear prayer when you have unconfessed sin."  Therefore, the application is, "If you want your prayers answered, confess your sin."  In other words, if you want God to give you what you want, admit you sinned.

A doctrine of demons.  It occurred to me the other day that our confession of sin should be for no other reason than that we have sinned.  Confession of sin is not a ticket to get what you want from God.  Confession of sin is because our sins need confession and repentance and forgiveness; confession is for its own sake. 

It is because we do not want to admit we are sinners.  This morning in Bible study I was confronted with the parable (maybe more true than just a made-up story?) of the Pharisee and tax collector praying side-by-side in the temple.  "The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.': Who says Jesus didn't have a sense of humor? 




As an extension, we might say, "I got what I prayed for because I confessed my sin."  Think again.  I have had many answers to prayer and afterward I saw sin that beforehand I was not sensitive to.


My end-point is that our theology is too simple.  No, it is simplistic and reductionist.  It feeds our inherent legalism, and I know legalism.  Unless we come in prayer on the basis of mercy, we miss the whole point.  Prayer that is based on something we do is not prayer.

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