I was thinking about the story of the prodigal son the other day and how much we can learn from this parable.
I’ve written a few blogs on the topic and this first one revolves around the idea of confession.
You see first there is the son who left and then came back again, we learn so much about the nature of God through this son. When we turn our backs on God, His will and our nature as a son/daughter it never goes well. Eventually though we will end up coming back to Him, it is actually impossible to escape our sonship if we have been adopted in, at some point there is a realization of who we are or we never were adopted in the first place. God is in the business of making sons, not orphans! (John 10:28, Heb 13:5, 1 John 2:19, Romans 8:38-39)
Have you ever noticed that the son while in a terrible situation has a realization that maybe just maybe his father will accept him as a servant so he thinks up an appropriate apology, a confession if you will, so that the father might forgive him. For the son the whole forgiveness is wrapped up in the father being convinced of his absolute brokenness and his willingness to become the least of the least in his organization.
“I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.’ ”
But whats funny about this is that God doesn’t need an apology or a confession, it says that while the son was still a long way off “his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” You see God doesn’t need our apologies, He just needs a heart that is turned back towards Him. The very fact that we think the word “repent” means to apologize points out how much we need this revelation. It simply means to change the way we think.
The story is funny though because the son obviously doesn’t quite grasp this and still tries to get his fantastic speech out, but only half way through his confession the father completely cuts him off and reinstated him as a full son, not as a servant.
This is beautiful, it reminds us that while confession is important, it is only to remind us of the distance between what we did and who we are in Christ. Confession is not for His benefit, it’s for ours!
So we don’t confess our sins?
No. Of course I’m not saying we don’t confess our sins, that can produce a hardening of the heart and arrogance, we’ve seen that too many times to fall prey to that. However, when we confess our sins it is never to try get closer to God, but rather to realize how far our thoughts are from who we are and to position ourselves to change the way we think, to repent.
Robert Capon said it best when he said – “Confession is only to bring sins to the light of Jesus and see clearly that they were forgiven all along”
Joseph Prince in his (fantastic) book Destined to Reign states, “We don’t have to confess our sins in order to be forgiven. We confess our sins because we are already forgiven. When I say ‘confess our sins’, I’m talking about being open with God… Confession in the new covenant is just being honest about your failures and your humanity. It is the result of being forgiven and not something you do in order to be forgiven.”
My question to you is:
When do you something wrong and confess your sins are you doing it to say “Lord help me renew my mind because I don’t believe who I really am?” Or are you maybe saying, “Lord I don’t deserve to be your son, please forgive me so I can try better next time?”
Just a thought.