As we continue our odyssey through the order of worship that we normally observe here at Faith Reformed Presbyterian Church, we have reached the point of silence. That does not mean I do not have anything to say, it simply means for this Beacon I’m writing about silent confession. In the last Beacon I wrote about the corporate confession where we join together as the people of God to confess our sinfulness. The time of silent confession is, just as its name implies, a time for individuals to confess their sins before the Lord. Corporately, we confess that we are sinners together and then in silence we are given the opportunity to confess our own private sinfulness.
It is interesting to me, as I write this article, there is a headline on Breitbart.com that reads, “Vatican laments drop in confessions.” Apparently the Roman Catholic church is experiencing a downturn in the number of people who feel it necessary to confess their sins. Now, it is far beyond the scope of this short article to look at the Roman Catholic “sacrament” of confession and what we as “Evangelicals” mean when we speak of confession. However, we do want to think clearly about why we have a short few moments of silence, in the middle of the service, dedicated to the confession of sin.
There is very little in our worship service that is focused for or on the individual and that is very purposeful. We gather on Sunday mornings for corporate worship as the family of God to honor and praise God together. However, we praise Him together as a corporate body made up of individuals. Each of us is unique and our temptations and sins are unique. That is not to say that the temptations we face are not common to all, but that when we sin those sins are our responsibility. So we see there is both a corporate and an individual need for us to confess our sins before the Lord. The beauty of all of that is spelled out very clearly in 1 John 1:8-10 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” The Scriptures could hardly be more clear about our need to confess our sin and the blessedness of doing so.
We have a couple of options before us. The first is to deny our sin and say we are without sin. The answer there comes quickly and is given twice in the 1 John passage above. This is the option of the arrogant and ignorant who are desperately seeking to avoid the truth. This is the path of one the Bible would refer to as a “fool.” The next option is to not say anything which is little better than the first option. Some people refuse to confess their sin because they feel such overwhelming guilt and shame. They end up wallowing in that guilt and it poisons who they are. Eventually, in a perverse way they become comfortable in the misery of their unconfessed sin and stunted lives. The third option is to confess the sin and receive God’s forgiveness. Unlike the other two options, this third option is the only one that promises life and hope and peace. Confessing our sin is about being brought into right relationship with the Living God.
Next Sunday, when we have a time of silent confession and the sanctuary falls quiet, focus your attention upon your own heart and bring those things which the Spirit reveals to you before the Throne of Grace for cleansing by the Almighty. Think about what is taking place in the midst of that silence. It is a truly awesome transaction that God is hearing your confession of sin against Him and He is bringing cleansing and restoration. It is beautiful and it is amazing. In days to come, I hope this element in our worship service becomes one that you look forward to with great eagerness and hope.