‘I confess’ — but to whom?

He committed adultery. Tried to cover it up and finally resorted to having the husband of his bed partner killed.

It is an ugly picture. It gets worse. The adulterer goes on as if nothing has happened, for almost a year. Well insulated by his high political office, he thinks he is protected from any accountability.

Then his guilt is exposed. A man of God shows up and, on behalf of an offended, righteous God, says to King David, “You are the man.”

The king had committed a grievous evil. Finally David confesses: “I have sinned against the Lord.”

The sharp pain of a stricken conscience produces an acknowledgment of the seriousness of what had been done. Though belated, it was not too little, too late.

Adultery is not simply a wrong committed against another, though it is certainly that; it is rebellion against Almighty God. This is what drove David to say later in his psalm of confession, “Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned, and done what is evil in Thy sight” (Psa. 51:4).

David’s confession of adultery is in striking contrast to Tiger Woods’ recent public confession regarding his serial adultery. To his credit he did say, “I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated.”

However, his Buddhist faith shaped his assessment of the gravity of the sin he committed. There was no “Godwardness” in it. The familiar words, at least to an audience influenced by Christianity, of repentance, sin, forgiveness, and God were nowhere to be found. In the end, all were asked “to believe” in him (Tiger).

True, Tiger Woods cannot be blamed for not using Christian terms. He is a Buddhist. His explanation of his wrongdoing was that he had failed to suppress his desires. By Buddhist standards, it was solely a personal and internal matter. Suffering, according to Buddhist teaching, is caused by craving. It is the craving that got the world’s best golfer into trouble. He has indicated that he is currently undergoing “therapy” to get his life back in order.

It was journalist Brit Hume who publicly advised Tiger Woods to look to Christ and Christianity for the forgiveness and redemption needed in his life. For this, Hume was verbally lynched by many in the media for his attempt to foist his Christian beliefs on Tiger.

What does Christianity believe about confession of sin and forgiveness? Psalm 130 offers one of the best summaries in the Bible of the offer of forgiveness by God’s grace apart from human works. Though it was written before Christ’s death on the cross, it nonetheless rests upon Christ’s atonement (Lk. 24:27).

“Out of the depths,” the psalmist cried to God (v. 1). The sin of the poet had overwhelmed him. The truth revealed is that sin and its misery is a dark hole from which only God’s grace and mercy can deliver us.

Sin creates a sense of distance and alienation from God. It’s like descending down in the depths of the sea feeling helpless and hopeless. That is why depression is often a symptom of sin.

Is your adversity related to sin? It can be. Are you covering up something? Is your pride resisting contrition and humility? The first move in confessing sin in a biblical way is looking to God for the grace needed. This grace must come from outside of ourselves.

“There is forgiveness with Thee” (v. 4). No more consoling words can be found. They are filled with hope. For that reason it must be proclaimed from the housetops, God’s forgiveness is the only hope for sin.

This forgiveness is free for the asking. You don’t have to buy it. It has already been paid for.

Christian, do you need it now for some sin that has been hidden from the sight of others? God sees it. It’s known to him.

Perhaps it is a lie that has been told that has not been confessed. Maybe it is some bitterness that is poisoning the well of your heart.

Find freedom. Ask God for the forgiveness you need. God will be become nearer and dearer to you as you taste the sweetness of His forgiving grace.

“My soul waits for the Lord” (v. 6). Fellowship with God is restored when our sins are forgiven. The psalmist was waiting for God Himself, not forgiveness. He had already received that.

Intimacy with God is like a jug of honey that spills over the soul. That sense of God’s pleasure comes with the certainty of the hope that is in God.

Sin is a muddy, messy business. You will leave tracks wherever you walk when you fail to confess it. Renew your joy in the Lord. Delight in Him.

“He will redeem Israel” (v. 8). Forgiven people are liberated people. When God’s forgiveness is experienced, we are liberated to praise God and to proclaim the Lord’s redemption to all who will listen.

That is what the psalmist does. What was good and true for him is good for everyone who comes to God for the grace of forgiveness. The forgiven person will want to spread the good news.

In this way the psalmist anticipates the Redeemer who was still unrevealed to him. The scent of Romans 3:24 was in his spiritual nostrils, “being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.”

That is what Brit Hume wanted Tiger Woods to know. For that matter, all who are without the hope of God’s forgiveness in Christ are candidates for that insuperable grace.

Do you, my friend, know that God’s forgiveness in Jesus Christ is available to you? Dear Christian, do you know that parental forgiveness is offered to you?

When sin comes between you and God, confess it. You have His word that “He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9). That is a jug of honey.

Dr. Howard E. Dial

Berachah Bible Church

Fayette County, Ga.