"Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me."
What is your reaction when you realize you have sinned? The reaction of most people is to find a way to justify it. When confronted by God, Adam blamed Eve. When confronted by God, Eve blamed Satan. King David, though, when confronted by God fell on his knees in repentance.
"Against you, you only, have I sinned,
and done this evil in your sight,
that you may be found just when you speak,
and blameless when you judge."
It takes a humble heart to acknowledge one's guilt. It takes great humility to refuse to blame one's sin on someone or something else. It takes deep, very deep understanding of oneself, to be able to admit that one is wrong. It takes a great understanding to acknowledge the plain unadulterated truth about oneself and to accept the justness of whatever judgment came because of it. It's very painful. That's why most can't get there. The truth is often too painful.
"The Lord is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in TRUTH."
Acknowledgement of one's sin is one of the most necessary elements in our walk with God. If one can't walk in the truth, then he may as well stay away, because God demands truth above all.
"Behold, you desire TRUTH in the inward parts,
and in the hidden part you will make me to know wisdom."
This will probably be the greatest struggle in life, because man is steeped in pride and pride is the deadliest of sins. It was pride that caused Satan, who was the chief angel, to fall. The struggle against pride can be as hard as the struggle between life and death, it is that deadly. It will keep many from coming to the Lord.
"For everyone practicing evil hates the light
and does not come to the light,
lest his deeds should be exposed."
But once the sinner breaks through and subdues pride, willing to acknowledge the truth about himself, he will be shocked to find that the Lord was just waiting for him with outstretched arms. I remember so well the day I finally dropped to my knees, confessing my sin. I remember the tremendous peace that came over me. It so shocked me that it took me awhile to understand it, because peace was the last thing I had expected, I expected to feel the full weight of my sin, to be crushed down in shame. But instead, I was embraced and filled with peace. It was one of the greatest discoveries in my walk with the Lord. He is not waiting for confession so that he can shame us. He is waiting for us to value the truth so highly that we are willing to finally acknowledge the truth about ourselves - so he can RECEIVE us.
Guilt is a thing so heavy that people try to assuage it with religious ritual. The person feels he has to DO something to balance out the sin. This is exactly what the Word of God tells us NOT to do. It's not ritual that can free one from guilt, ritual will never, ever, do it. No, the Lord is waiting for the person to finally fall to his knees in repentance.
"Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your Holy Spirit from me."
This is repentance, the victory over the pride that keeps one from God, the savor of the truth, the confession of the truth about one's self, the plea for forgiveness.
The way up - is down. Down on one's knees, then up into God's salvation.