What sins should we confess?
Before God we should plead guilty of all sins, even those we are not aware of, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer; but before the pastor we should confess only those sins which we know and feel in our hearts.
Which [sins] are these?
Consider your place in life according to the Ten Commandments: Are you a father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, or worker? Have you been disobedient, unfaithful, or lazy? Have you been hot-tempered, rude, or quarrelsome? Have you hurt someone by your words or deeds? Have you stolen, been negligent, wasted anything, or done any harm?
INI + AMEN.
Psalm 38:4 says, “For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.” But we don’t believe. It’s something we say, but most of the time that’s the farthest from our minds. Most of the time we’re comfortable with ourselves. We’re relatively nice people in a worldly sense. We’re kind to most people around us. We do our best.
But the idea that we’re actually drowning in our sins, that they’re a weight that will crush us, yeah, we don’t believe that. It’s something we say. We don’t want to believe it! How can it be true, looking at how good we are? And the idea that we’re conceived in sin, as Psalm 51 and elsewhere tell us, well, that, too, is out. We don’t even like that we talk about our sins! Even though, St. John’s right, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us…If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
The reason we have trouble with Psalm 38:4, and the reason we’ll have trouble with it our entire lives is because of our flesh. Our flesh makes it so that we may refuse to see our sins, and it makes it so we can’t see all our sins, and makes us thank that our sins are minor faults that we can fix up given enough time. But our biggest blindspot for our Old Adam isn’t necessarily the sins we often fall into, or even the good works we do daily and much to make up for those sins. No, our biggest blindspot to Psalm 38:4 is “considering your place in life according to the Ten Commandments.”
Our sins aren’t off somewhere. Being a sinner isn’t an idea or mindset. Our sins are separate from our daily lives. But our sins are close to us, they’re against those closest to us. And the more we’re around each other the next few days or weeks, it’ll only get worse. Won’t it? Frustration grows. Stir crazy against those around us. Normally, we think we’re not so bad. But we’d never ask for an honest answer from our spouse about good of a husband or wife we are. We wouldn’t do that with our kids, or coworkers, or friends would we? We’d be confronted with many things we’ve done or said, and the scary thing is: we may not even remember saying or doing them!
“Are you a father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, or worker? Have you been disobedient, unfaithful, or lazy? Have you been hot-tempered, rude, or quarrelsome? Have you hurt someone by your words or deeds? Have you stolen, been negligent, wasted anything, or done any harm?” That’s how we sin. Daily and much we sin. Sin against those whom we’ve been baptized to love and serve and care for. We see their faces, look into their eyes, hear their voices. Our sins blossom and grow in the soil of our baptismal callings from God—our vocations.
When we look at vocation, the sins pile up quick in Mark 14, just like in our daily lives. The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin, the Jewish court of Law, look for witnesses against Jesus to put Him to death. They didn’t want the truth or justice, as their calling demanded. No, they brought “many false witnesses against Him.” Those witnesses sinning as much as those who called them! They hit Jesus, spit upon Him, mocked Him. Peter denied Him three times. The servants and those at the High Priest’s house were trying to get Peter, too! Peter cursed and swore. He sinned against Jesus, not only as a disciple, not only as a friend, but also against his God.
Where we deny Psalm 38, and where we fulfill it in our daily lives so often obliviously, Jesus fulfills it. Why was Jesus quiet? He fulfills Psalm 38: “I am like a deaf man; I do not hear, like a mute man who does not open his mouth. I have become like a man who does not hear, and in whose mouth are no rebukes.” But Jesus also fulfills: “For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.” Jesus has iniquities. He didn’t commit them, but, nevertheless, they are His. They were yours—He took them as His own, claimed them as His own. God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor 5:21) “The LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Is 53:6) Jesus is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
He took Peter’s denial, the witnesses false testimony, every hit, every insult, every lie, every fake justice, every sin. He didn’t just experience them, suffer under them. No, those were suddenly His denial, His false testimony, and all the rest. He took your vocational sins, too. Every argument, every missed chore, every waste, every way we’ve sinned against the people closest to us, against “father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, or worker,” or boss! Those are the very sins Jesus shed His blood for, died for, was raised from the dead for.
He took them away, that you might become righteousness and holiness in and through Him. Not only in His death and resurrection, but you were clothed with Christ in your baptism. Not just that, Jesus delivers His righteousness and cross-won forgiveness to you in your daily callings. As you struggle to fulfill your baptismal calling with those around you, and as you sin in those callings, the Lord brings His forgiveness through His called and ordained servant. There you’re set free from the burden of making up for it before God, so that you are let loose to do be better for others. I’m there to deliver right to you God’s forgiveness, more word of God, too, especially for where you are in your place in life according to the Ten Commandments.
“My iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.” It’s so true! Especially when you Consider your place in life according to the Ten Commandments.” So, “Are you a father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, or worker? Have you been disobedient, unfaithful, or lazy? Have you been hot-tempered, rude, or quarrelsome? Have you hurt someone by your words or deeds? Have you stolen, been negligent, wasted anything, or done any harm?”
By the command of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. AMEN.