November 27, 2011
Isaiah 64:1-9

Have you ever had a conversation with someone only to realize how distant he or she is from God? It is a humbling and saddening experience. I wonder sometimes if that is how God sees us. “We are all like an unclean thing. All our righteousness is like filthy rags; and our iniquities, like the wind have taken us away” (v. 6). Truly, from God’s perspective, we are all so far away from Him.

This was the case for the post-exilic Israel of Isaiah 64. Sandwiched between the hope of chapters 60—62 and chapters 65—66, Isaiah 63—64 expresses the voice of a penitent community—community separated from God and in need of reconciliation. Confession brings healing. This conflict-ridden community desperately needed healing, hope and cleansing as it awaited a new work from the Lord. So do we.

As we anticipate the celebration of the birth of our Lord, we would do well to examine ourselves. Are we ready for His presence this Christmas? As we ask the Lord to search our hearts, we also will see that we need to enter His presence, be still and confess. Confession brings healing. What a wonderful Christmas gift that would be! Isaiah quickly realized this when he met God during his account of Isaiah 6. In response to the holy presence of Almighty God, Isaiah saw his true sinful self. He was cleansed and commissioned by God to preach the prophetic message. His cleansing empowered him to reply, “Here am I, send me” (v. 6:8), and to fulfill God’s agenda. We, too, need cleansing. Only when we enter confession can we see our true nature and experience the freeing grace that enables us to live fully in God’s presence.

Confession is admitting who we really are to ourselves and to God. It is not easy and often terrifying. I am inspired by my 5-year-old son, Nathaniel, who recently confessed he poked a hole in a ball and broke it at pre-school. After he confessed to me, I asked him if he told his teacher. His response was so convicting. “I was scared, but I told her,” he said. Isn’t this so true in our lives? Confession is scary, but this 5-year-old did it anyway because he knew it was right. What a sense of relief that follows when we do what is right. I was thankful Nathaniel’s teacher responded with grace, and as Nathaniel relayed, “She didn’t even get mad.” What a beautiful picture of our loving Lord who longs to heal us through confession!

Unfortunately, we often face barriers to confession such as fear, pride, complacency, disobedience, enjoying sin, spiritual blindness—blind to our own sin—etc. Perhaps you can think of others. I suggest the following steps in overcoming these barriers to confession. 1) Enter God’s presence. Don’t wait to be or feel clean and worthy. Let Isaiah 6 be your model, whether it is through prayer, Bible study or personal worship in song. 2) Let Ephesians 1:18, “that the eyes of your understanding be enlightened,” be the prayer of your heart and your focus throughout the day. 3) Spend time in confession. You may confess by writing out a sin list, asking and allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal hidden sins of the heart. You may prefer to confess to an accountability partner who will encourage you and pray for you. You may choose to talk out loud to God, confessing your sins as they come to mind, or journal your thoughts in the form of written prayer of confession. 4) Memorize Scripture that encourages confession. 5) Meditate on spiritual growth books such as Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline or Dallas Willard’s Renovation of the Heart. 6) Remember confession brings healing. He is the potter, and we are the clay (64:8). Let the Lord have His way with you as you prepare for this Christmas season.

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