Theme of the Week: The Discipline of Devotion
Bible Verse: Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Proverbs 28:13 ESV
Scripture Reading: Psalm 66:18; Proverbs 28:13; Romans 3:9-20
There can be no ongoing devotion without confession, which can take place anytime. Ideally it ought to take place whenever we sin. But all too often we are too proud and emotionally charged to acknowledge our sin at the time we commit it — for example, when we lose our temper in an argument. But devotion is impossible if we are overloaded with guilt.
If we have put off admitting our sins to God, confession may need to come first in our devotional time.
While understanding that confession should happen spontaneously, our discipline of devotion ought to involve systematic confession as well. First, we must confess what we are, the ontological reality that we truly are sinners. It is most important that we regularly make this confession because, as regenerated men who are making some progress in spiritual growth, it is sinfully natural to falsely suppose we are rising above our condition — a delusion which testifies to our very depravity.
Second, we must confess our specific sins. I would suggest making a list of our sins, for the act of writing them out helps materialize this personal reality for us. C. S. Lewis said, “We must lay before him what is in us, not what ought to be within us.”1
This done, we should confess each sin by its ugly name, and then thank God for His forgiveness through the blood of His Son. The importance of confession for the devotional life cannot be overstated. Unconfessed sin makes the heavens seem like brass. But confession not only opens the heavens, it also enhances our intimacy with God, as François Fenelon urged:
Tell [God] all that is in your heart, as one unloads one’s heart to a dear friend. . . . People who have no secrets from each other never want for subjects of conversation; they do not . . . weigh their words, because there is nothing to be kept back. Neither do they seek for something to say; they talk out of the abundance of their heart — without consideration, just what they think. . . . Blessed are they who attain to such familiar, unreserved intercourse with God.2
1 C. S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World), p. 22.
2 George Arthur Buttrick, ed., The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 8 (New York: Abingdon Press, 1952), p. 725, quotes Fenelon, Spiritual Letters to Man, Letter LXXXVII, “To the Vidame D’Amiens: On Prayer and Meditation.” See also Letter XXIV, “To One Who Had Recently Turned to God.”
Taken from Disciplines of a Godly Man by Kent Hughes, Copyright © 2001. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org
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