The congregation of believers in its confession of sin is a delight unto the Lord our God. God finds a deep satisfaction in his own work. And the congregation which comes before him with a true and sincere confession of sin and an acknowledgment of its unworthiness to stand before him is God’s handiwork. We should be at all times deeply conscious of this. It is true that the individual sinner and the congregation of sinners come to seek the face of the Lord. They come to pour out their heart before him. They call to him out of the depths. But in all this they are the clay which God has formed; and which he has brought to the conviction of sin and guilt.
I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
He moved my soul to seek Him, seeking me;
It was not I that found, O Savior true;
No, I was found of Thee.
There is joy in heaven over every sinner who comes to repentance. I do not think that we have to limit this to the coming out of the darkness of sin into the light of the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Every time true acknowledgment of sin and guilt and pleading for mercy occurs there is joy in heaven! It is the very purpose of the coming of the Holy Spirit to dwell in the hearts of men to bring them to the conviction of sin, righteousness and judgment.
It is the consciousness of this which alone is able to sustain the truly penitent heart in tile confession of sin. Without this the knowledge and conviction of sin would cause us to sink into the pool of despair.
The Holy Spirit convincing us of sin, righteousness and judgment has in mind to lead us to the Christ, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
His name is Comforter. But he cannot comfort when there is no grief. It is for this reason that the congregation, which confessed its sin, must be told that if we truly confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.
If our worship on the Lord’s Day goes beyond a mere formal activity, this moment makes our worship an experience of deep joy and satisfaction. It makes no difference that this pronouncement of the forgiveness of our sins is repeated every Sunday; it will remain ever new and always present. Therefore it is so necessary that we keep a close watch over ourselves. Formalism is a grievous sin, for the God whom we serve desires truth within. This sin also should become a reason for confession, leading to the experience of peace and joy following upon the assurance that this sin will be forgiven. Worship requires effort on our part if we are to reach the spiritual heights necessary to fully taste that the Lord is good to all who love him. To the heart that realizes its sinfulness there are no words sweeter than the assurance that all our sins are forgiven us for the sake of the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ upon the cross.
Therefore it is well that the congregation after it has been assured of the forgiveness of sin be called upon to utter its thanks to God. The congregation should sing that the Law of God is its most cherished possession and that it finds in that Law the way of wisdom and life.
Thus we find in our worship a confession of sin and misery; but also the assurance that although our sins are like scarlet, God will make them white as snow. And this will mean a rededication of our lives to our Father in heaven out of the gratitude of our heart.