STUDY | Read through 2 Samuel 11–12 and Psalm 32. Pray the Holy Spirit would bring to life God’s Word and that you would teach these passages well to those in your group.
DETERMINE | Many questions have been included in this guide. Read through this lesson to determine which questions will work best to encourage, push, and grow your group.
PRAY | As you prepare, pray for the preaching of God’s Word this coming weekend. Pray also for your time in this week’s study and your group’s openness to God’s Word.
LANDING POINT | Confessing your sin opens the way to experiencing God’s freedom, love and peace in your life.
Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion
- Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
- No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
- No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
- Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
Last week, your group looked at confession as a profession of faith of who God is and what He has done. This week you will look at confession as an acknowledgment of our sin before God and others. Confession is powerful because it opens the way for us to experience God’s freedom, love and peace in our lives.
Q: What words or images come to mind when you hear the word ‘confession’?
Q: If confession is so powerful, why do we see so little of it in the Church today?
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
DAVID’S SIN EXPOSED
David was Israel’s greatest king. He was a mighty warrior-poet whom God called “a man after my own heart.” God even promised David that his dynasty would last forever. Despite his sterling reputation, David wasn’t without flaws. Sadly, one of the stories we remember most from his life is his affair with Bathsheba and how he tried to cover up his sin by lying and deceiving others. David even went so far as to have Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, murdered in order to cover up his sin.
For a while it looked as though David had gotten away with everything. And then, one day, the prophet Nathan came to the king and told him a story about two men, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had plenty, but the poor man had nothing but a little ewe lamb, which his family loved dearly. A traveler came to the rich man and, instead of taking a lamb from his own flock, he took the poor man’s lamb and served it to his guest. Upon hearing the story David was furious. “How dare he! That man deserves to die.” Then Nathan uttered these chilling words, which exposed David’s sin: “You are the man!” Right then and there David knew his sin had been exposed. He was broken before God and confessed his sin to Him.
READ: Read 2 Samuel 11-12:1-25. What does this story tell you about sin and its consequences?
Q: Can you recall a time when someone confronted you about something? If so, what did you learn from your experience?
David wrote Psalm 32 about the experience of confession and forgiveness. David sees God’s forgiveness as a blessing. In order to receive that blessing, sin must be confessed before God. Sin breaks our fellowship with God and the only way to restore it is through confession. At the heart of the psalm is the belief that God is merciful. That’s why David teaches us to pray and confess our sins to God.
READ: Read Psalm 32. How would you explain that forgiveness is a blessing?
Q: Think of a broken relationship in your life. How might confession help restore that relationship?
Select 2-3 question from this section to answer.
FREEDOM IN CONFESSION
The enemy’s greatest weapons against us are guilt and shame over sin. When we get caught in the cycle of shame, we begin to isolate ourselves from others and hide in fear. We’re really no different than Adam and Eve after they sinned. We still hide from God and others because of shame. So, what breaks this cycle of guilt and shame over sin? Confession breaks the cycle and frees us to experience God’s forgiveness.
Imagine that the enemy is building a wall between you and God made of the bricks of guilt and shame. Now, imagine your confession as a wrecking ball, which breaks down the wall of separation.
Q: Why are guilt and shame such powerful weapons against us?
Q: What is it about confession that makes it able to break the cycle of guilt and shame?
LOVE IN CONFESSION
Why do we pretend to be someone we’re not? The truth is, we want others to think we have it all together. We fear being exposed as a “fake,” a “hypocrite” or as “weak.” So, we listen to that inner voice which says, “If they knew the real you, they wouldn’t love you. They would reject you. You better not dare show them the real you.”
Someone once said, “The most powerful four words in the English language are, ‘I love you anyway.’” We all want to be known and loved for who we really are. The truth is, we all have messes in our lives; no one has it all together. The sooner each of us admits that, the sooner we can live honestly before others without fear of rejection.
Q: How would you respond with God’s truth to that inner voice that lies and accuses you?
PEACE IN CONFESSION
When you confess your sin, there’s no fear of being exposed. You’ve already come out of hiding and admitted where you failed or need help. This brings us peace. The enemy tempts us to cover up our sin: “If people find out about this, it’s pretty much over for you. Say goodbye to respect. When people find out the truth about you, they’ll surely drop you like a bad habit.” So, we spin ourselves into cycles of worry, anxiety, guilt and shame.
But Jesus responds to us differently. He is tender towards us. He tells us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Jesus takes off of our shoulders the guilt and shame of sin and replaces it with forgiveness and His peace.
Q: What does Jesus’ response to us reveal about His character?
Select 1 question from this section to answer.
BE WISE IN CONFESSION
If you need to confess your sin to someone, make sure you choose the right person, time, place, and motivation for your confession. First, pick someone you trust. It’s essential that we confess sin to those who are affected by it (or would be if it became public). Is the person you choose mature enough to hear your confession, respond with love and help you work towards reconciliation? Next, be wise about when and where you confess. Don’t confess in front of those who have nothing to do with the sin. Don’t unload your sin on someone right after asking them to pass the potatoes at dinner. Finally, what’s your motivation in confession? David had the right motivation in his confession. That is, he was broken, convicted and desired change.
Q: What are the potential dangers of doing confession the wrong way, whether we’re giving or receiving it?
Q: What could your group do to practice confession more regularly?
Consider any sin in your life God is calling you to confess. Acknowledge your sin to God and remember that He is a merciful God who loves you and longs to forgive you. After you finish, simply listen to God. Allow Him to speak to you. You may ask, “God, how do you see me?” or “Lord, what do you want to tell me?”
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
Read Psalm 51 and reflect on what David desires from God.
Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their life.
Psalm 32 at a glance.
David divides Psalm 32 into three parts. The first part (vv.1-2) is a statement of the main theme, that the forgiven are blessed. The second part (vv.3-7) is David’s personal reflection on his experience of confession and receiving forgiveness. In the third part (vv.8-11), David addresses God’s people, encouraging them to be wise and find joy in the God who forgives.
There are seven penitential psalms in Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130 and 143. These psalms express sorrow for sin. We should never take sin lightly or be foolish enough to tolerate the least amount of it in our lives.
Motivated by the love of God.
Many of us don’t want to confess our sin because, somewhere deep inside us, we doubt God’s love. We may read about God’s love in the Bible, but we wonder whether anyone could ever love you without condition. For those that doubt God’s love, Brennan Manning has these words:
God loves you as you are and not as you should be! Do you believe this? That God loves you beyond worthiness and unworthiness, beyond fidelity and infidelity, that He loves you in the morning sun and evening rain, that He loves you without caution, regret, limit or breaking point? 1
When you understand that God loves you where you are—not where you should be—we can be honest and confess our sin to God and others more easily. Why? Because we understand that nothing can truly separate us from the relentless and unchanging love of Jesus.
1. Brennan Manning, The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2004), 25.