A few weeks ago at a profession of faith class, I scattered several recipe cards on our coffee table and asked the class to put them in order. One of the cards said “Confess our sins;” on another I had written, “Experience God’s grace.” A good discussion ensued over which order those two cards in particular should go.
It seems logical to say that we confess our sins in order to receive God’s grace: We repent of the wrong we’ve done and then God forgives us.
But where did we get the motivation to confess our sins in the first place? Is not our desire to be right with God already evidence of God’s grace at work in us, wooing us back to Him?
…Grace precedes confession, guides it,
and makes the movement [towards it] possible. The historical reality of what Christ did on the cross means that we confess our sins because God has already forgiven us. That is our only hope, the one we were not counting on, and the one that appears only after we abandoned all others. So we do not confess in order to receive grace, but in order to enjoy it. If confession preceded grace, it would mean we deserve God’s mercy by our contrition. What we deserve is the last thing we want… (p. 75)