Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
I've been thinking a lot about confession and the steps that are necessary to come to that place of a “right spirit.” Confession is at the heart of our Christian faith and yet in our prayers, in our relationships, in our Christian communities confession isn’t practiced very regularly. I once read an article about the increasing number of web sites that offer "anonymous online confession" and the number of "hits" they were receiving. Given the high number of “hits” it would appear that as individuals, as a church, as a culture we are in desperate need of God's confronting Spirit.
There’s a reason why genuine confession and repentance is so difficult, it entails coming to God, silent, listening to what he has to say about what he sees and knows isn't right. Generally I don't like being confronted even if I know I'm wrong! Quite frankly, it's a painful experience. Consequently, being confronted by my Creator is particularly intimidating because of His x-ray vision that sees beyond the superficial, looking at the heart, which is “deceitful above all things, and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV).
My mind tells me that sin is anything that goes against what God desires. But defensively I tend to put a "value" on sin which helps me avoid culpability. Surely, a little “constructive criticizing" of my church leaders isn't nearly as "sinful" as murder. Passing along information that in the passing loses it’s truth and perhaps isn't mine to share--well, come on now, "gossip" can't possibly be held to the same standard as breaking my marriage vows!
There are an endless number of excuses that I can generate for my sins. But whether it be gossip or slander, selfishness or willfulness, murder or adultery, it all has the same “value” to God. Unfortunately, sin is sin. God just doesn't see sin with my “creative” nuances.
In order to experience spiritual growth and maturity, along with spiritual health, a willingness to hear God's confronting voice is necessary. I'm bound to be surprised at what He points to because it will probably be those little “sins” I thought innocuous, that I did in "love", I thought didn't really hurt anyone or believed, self-righteously, that I was doing the “right thing.”
Little or big, sins are destructive. Restoration, transformation, healing begins when I and my fellow believers humbly fall on our faces praying,
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.