Confession of Sin
“I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.” “How many are mine iniquities and sins: make me to know my transgression and my sin.” “ Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” —Psalm 38:18 Job 8:23; Matthew 5:4.
“At the outset” says our Directory, “let everyone examine his heart, to see whether he be grieved on account of his sins, and humble himself before God.” This is the first element of genuine self-examination. It cannot indeed be otherwise. The salvation of the Lord Jesus is a salvation from sin. The power, the grace, the Blessing of Jesus are exhibited in the taking away of sin out of us, and the implanting within us instead of the holiness and the life of heaven. And it is because the Lord’s Supper is intended to serve as a renewed and an increased participation of the life of Christ, that a new and deeper acknowledgment of sin is the most desirable preparation for the Supper. It is not merely he that is still seeking for forgiveness who must think of and confess his sins. No: it is especially the believer that has need to acknowledge aright and with all earnestness the sins which he still commits and their antipathy to God. The more he really despairs of himself, the more glorious will Christ become in his eyes. The more keenly he feels every sin, the more will Jesus become to him. Every sin is a need that calls for Jesus. By the confession of sin, you point out to Him the spot where you are wounded, and where He must exhibit the healing power of His blood. Every sin that you confess is an acknowledgment of something which Jesus must cast out, and the place of which He is bound to fill up with one of the lovely gifts of His holiness. Every sin that you confess is a new reason why you should believe more and ask more, and a new reason why Jesus should bless you.
Christian, prepare yourself for the Holy Supper by thinking of your sins. Be not afraid to make mention of them by name before Jesus. Point out to Him that which you desire He should change in you. Sin which is not confessed is also not combated. When a saved soul goes to Jesus to speak with Him about sin, and to make it known to Him, it breaks sin’s power and makes Him more precious. The very same light that enables you to feel the curse of sin more deeply, enables you also to discern the perfect and final victory over it. The experience, utterly lost, prepares the way for the experience utterly redeemed.
Beloved child of God, you do not perhaps yet know what a source of blessing a deep conviction of sin is. Do not be afraid of it: do not turn away from it. The blessed Spirit of God will give it to you. Through the increasing grace of Jesus in you, through your deepening fellowship in the life of heaven, He will so discover its incurable sinfulness, that this very experience shall lead you to that entire surrender to Jesus which is so gloriously sealed in the Lord’s Supper.
Lord God, Thou searchest and knowest us. Thou art He that knowest the hearts and triest the reins. Before Thee, there is no creature that is not made manifest: but all things are naked and open before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Thine eyes see through the heart alike of the ungodly and the righteous. Thou art the Omniscient One, the Searcher of hearts.
Lord, how terrible is Thine omniscience for Thine enemies. That eye which burns in heaven as a flame of fire is always upon them. They would fain flee away from it, but they are never able. But for Thy people, Thine omniscience is a comfort and a refuge. Thou art He who can help them against themselves and the deceitfulness of their own hearts. They invite Thine omniscience to search their heart and to cleanse them from their secret faults.
Holy God, I too place myself in Thine hands. Search me, O God, and know my heart. With fear, and yet from the depths of my heart, I say unto thee: Holy God, I wish to tolerate no single sin, however secret or deeply rooted it may be. Lord, I crave Thy help: I place myself in the light of Thy flaming eyes, before which no sin can stand. Search me, O God, and know my heart.
I Know, Lord, that the answer is oftentimes terrible: “By terrible things Thou wilt answer us in righteousness, O God of our salvation.” I know, when Thou dost suffer man to enter into temptation and let him see what is in his heart, that the humiliation and the shame and the sorrow are often deep and bitter. I know that when Thou trustest Thy mighty hand into the bosom to root out the almost unknown and yet deeply-rooted sin, flesh and blood must then fail. And yet I cry: Search me, O God, and know my heart.
Lord, make me know the sin to which I am blind: my characteristic sins also, about which I am so sensitive when any other speaks of them, whether it be the love of money with its seduction, or the love of the world with its vanity, or the love of self with its entanglement, make me to know it. Lord, use friend or foe: use what means Thou wilt, O my Father: only search me and know my heart: cleanse me from secret errors, and let no hurtful way abide with me, but lead me in the way that is everlasting.
Yes, gracious Lord, give me such an overmastering conviction of the entire corruption of my nature that I shall be constrained to receive in its completeness the perfect redemption of Christ. Amen.