There are three lists that need attention to keep as short as possible if one is to be happy in life and enjoy spiritual growth and maturity. There is the list of people you’ve offended that need an apology from you, the list of people who have offended you with whom you are to seek to be reconciled, and of course a lack of attention to the first two lists will add to the third and most important of the lists is the list of sins against God.
It is amazingly easy to go through life and not realize how we might have offended somebody but when an offense is made known there is but one thing to do to remove it from the list – go to that person and apologize. Jesus said it is so important that until you settle the matter your worship of God will be incomplete.
Matthew 5:23–24 (ESV) — 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
As hard as it may seem to keep the first list short, the second is equally important to keep short – the list of people who have offended you, with whom you must reconcile to avoid bitterness.
Matthew 18:15–17 (ESV) — 15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
More can be said about the importance of the first two lists to keep as short as possible by taking steps as soon as possible to eliminate the cause for sin by neglecting to do what Jesus said so let’s turn our attention to the list of things that need confessing and repenting.
Needless to say, when it comes to confessing your sin to God, it’s best to keep the list short; otherwise you bring great sorrow on yourself as you give God the cold shoulder. Just ask David how keeping silent about sin worked out in his life.
Psalm 32:1–5 (ESV) — 1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah 5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
The Bible is clear that even on our best days we mess up and need to confess our sins to God. Confessing sin is not a sign of failure as much as a sign we are walking with God, so we are becoming more and more aware of sin.
1 John 1:5–10 (ESV) — 5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Walking with God daily means taking in His word, which as David declared in Psalm 19 is a means to uncover hidden faults which are not hidden to God but to David (us), and by which God keeps us from being presumptuous about sin.
Psalm 19:12–13 (ESV) — 12 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. 13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
Now let us look at David’s “cold shoulder” experience with God in Psalm 32. It is interesting how before David confesses his faulty action, he rehearses the Gospel of God’s grace in the forgiveness of sin in verses 1 and 2, the very verses quoted by Paul in Romans 4:5-8 as he teaches on justification by faith alone which not only brings a declaration of righteousness as seen in the life of Abraham, but a full and complete forgiveness of sin as seen in the life of David.
Psalm 32:1–2 (ESV) — 1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
Just notice how sin is described and how God deals with sin – transgression is forgiven, sin is covered, the Lord does not count iniquity which means He has counted it to someone else (Christ Jesus), and He gives a spirit of openness, for the guile of deceit about sin. In other words, as God brings all these benefits, He makes it known that there is no need to hide your sin or pretend it’s not there because His remedy is complete.
So, what did David do? He tried to pretend he didn’t sin and in doing so actually sinned more in giving God the cold shoulder by not speaking to Him.
Psalm 32:3–4 (ESV) — 3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
Stop and think about it. The Holy Spirit prompts you as you read God’s word or hear it preached or taught which reveals sin in your life. Sin of commission (something you have done) or sin of omission (something you didn’t do but should have). Instead of confessing it as a failure before God, you hide from it or try to find an excuse to satisfy your mind, so you can move on.
The problem is: “if we say we have not sinned God’s truth is not in us and we are calling God a liar.” Whoa! That does not make for effective communication with God, which means that when we go to God in prayer about matters for which we are looking for help, we feel He’s not listening, and there’s a good reason for Him not listening:
Psalm 66:18 (ESV) — 18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
Isaiah 59:1–2 (ESV) — 1 Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; 2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.
Now your prayer life is spiraling downward as bitterness sets in because you feel God is not listening to your prayers. With that bitterness comes a sense that life is drying up before your eyes. Or as David put it in Psalm 32:3–4, “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.”
Do you want to feel like that? I do not think so which is why David gave us the solution in verses 5.
Psalm 32:5 (ESV) — 5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
In other words, “keep the list of sins short” by confessing sin whenever prompted by the Holy Spirit. Take the time to admit your guilt and agree with God that He is right, and you are not. It is not like He doesn’t know about it. And it is not like He’s going to let you have it when you expose your sin. It is a fact that He brings the fullness of forgiveness and fellowship as you reveal the list of sins to Him. Notice the words of David, “and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.” Wow!
Amos 3:3 (KJV) — 3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
Keep your lists short by going to the people whom you have offended and those who have offended you for the purpose of reconciliation and avoid giving God the silent treatment of a cold shoulder and you will find yourself in step with God as you agree with Him that His way is the right way in relationships with others and in your relationship and fellowship with Him.