Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Do not banish me from your presence,
and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you. (NLT)
Imagine this scenario: I dutifully confess my sins before God before breakfast. Over breakfast I become sinfully resentful of someone as a result of an email I just received. I nurse that resentment and leave for work but walking to the bus stop I am hit by a car and die. What happens as I face God?
Will he reject me despite my trust in Jesus because I have not confessed that specific sin? Does his forgiveness only come into effect when I verbally confess my sin? Or am I accepted because when I put my trust in Jesus, the guilt of my sin was covered for the future as well as the past?
It has to be the latter, otherwise none of us would have any assurance of salvation because death and thus judgement can strike suddenly. My confession does not earn me my salvation. Only the mercy of Jesus is enough.
So why confess? One reason is that it should come naturally to Christians because the Holy Spirit reminds me of my sin. And confession reminds me of the reality of God’s grace: confession is not meant to make us wallow in misery but fling ourselves on God’s grace. In doing so, we experience what David experienced: the joy of salvation.
When David sinned, when we sin, we don’t lose salvation. We lose the joy of it.