If you want to know whether confession or concealment is more natural to our human nature, just catch a child in an act of disobedience and ask them what they are doing. The best answer you can hope for is, “I don’t know.” You might even watch a little liar emerge. Confession is learned; it is not a natural habit.
So one reason why I am so committed to rehearsing the gospel in a liturgy (for more on this, I recommend this excellent book, or this one) is because it helps us practice the habit of confessing our sins and hearing words of forgiveness from the mouth of God. I pray that by God’s grace, practicing this week after week in our gatherings will breed a flock of spontaneous confessors.
Below is an excerpt from our worship service at Winnetka Bible Church today, so you can see this practice in action:
Call to Confession (Corporate Reading)
“What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it,
a metal image, a teacher of lies?
For its maker trusts in his own creation
when he makes speechless idols!
Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, “Awake;”
to a silent stone, “Arise!”
Can this teach?
Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver,
and there is no breath at all in it.
But the LORD is in his holy temple;
let all the earth keep silence before him.”
Prayer of Confession (Leader)
Our Great God,
We may not be people who use our hands
to make images out of wood and stone,
but every day we find ourselves looking to things we have created
as our source of security and comfort.
Not many of us have bowed down before a stone,
but we have all built our lives on false foundations,
thinking that we have our identity in our titles and careers,
rather than resting ourselves on You as our rock.
Not many of us have carved a face into a piece of wood,
but we have all used our talents and skills to glorify trivial things,
wasting our time and energy on endless entertainment,
rather than being captivated by the beauty of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.
Not many of us have overlaid an image with gold and precious gems,
but we all treat money with more homage than it deserves,
and find our attitudes and emotions fluctuating with our assets,
rather than treasuring you as our most worthy prize.
So what can we do, Lord, but be silent before You?
You are in Your temple, and You see all our sin.
So, in the quietness of this moment, we ask that You would search our hearts,
and expose our idolatry to us,
so that we can confess it before You willingly, as to a Father.
Words of Assurance (Corporate Reading)
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.
(Habakkuk 3:17-19 ESV)
Hymn of Thanksgiving: Not What My Hands Have Done