In Biblical terms, confessing our sins means saying the same thing about them as God and His Word. This leads us to truth about His forgiveness and cleansing that predates our very existence.
"Now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Ephesians 3:11-12).
God's redemptive work in Christ transcends time. He has forever known that the Lord Jesus would be required to die upon Calvary's cross for our sins, even as the Apostle John refers to the Savior as "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8). "Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world" (Acts 15:18). Thus, before humanity existed, a solution for the problem of sin had been planned and determined. This is the first truth we must confess if we sin. We must agree with God that His supply precedes our need.
On the day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter faithfully represented this Divine order of redemption.
"Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain" (Acts 2:23). Note the sequence. First the Lord Jesus is declared to have been delivered to the cross by the counsel of God. Then Peter indicts the human element of wickedness. The supply is declared before the sin that led to our need. This is always God's way with humanity, and every truly faithful presentation of the Gospel must begin not with the dilemma of the human, but with the solution and provision of the Divine. The person and work of the Lord Jesus is God's first thought concerning sin. It must be ours also.
This truth causes our establishes our confession of sin in God-centered terms. "Christ died for our sins," and "was raised again for our justification" (I Corinthians 15:3; Romans 4:25). We acknowledge and give thanks for our Lord's redeeming work on our behalf that has awaited our need from eternity past. We do not begin our confession of sin by focusing on ourselves because this misdirected emphasis is in some manner the very thing that got us into trouble in the first place. Our repentance instead originates by "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). We begin with the Beginning, and a deeper and more genuine confession results, leading to a deeper and more genuine experience of God's forgiveness and cleansing.
It is one thing, a good and necessary thing, to honestly acknowledge our sins. However, it is quite another to remember and affirm that the Lord Jesus was tortured to death, and forsaken by both God and man in order to redeem us from our sins. The latter must precede the former, and when it does, a powerful restoration of grace and mercy ensues. The fallen believer arises with genuine godly sorrow and joyful motivation to once again glorify His wonderfully redeeming Savior, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
"Before they call, I will answer."
Tomorrow: The sufficiency of Christ's atoning work on our behalf