The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Confession Worship Songs: The Heart of Worship

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AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

By definition, a Christian leader in the Church is supposed to be a spiritual leader. This means they are supposed to be teaching the flock how to treat God with honor. Now there are many areas in which we can lead. A worship leader is supposed to be someone who is teaching the flock how to honor God through worship. Unfortunately the title “worship leader” today usually means nothing more than “People think I’m really good at playing an instrument.” And once we surround ourselves with leaders who don’t have a clue about what it means to treat God with honor, it’s hardly a surprise that the songs they set before us are so inappropriate.

Now at some point, some fool thought it would be a brilliant idea to turn the worship hour into a time of group confession. The idea is that we all stand around singing about how miserably we’ve been treating God. And because we’re singing, not speaking, that’s supposed to make it worship. Well, no, this doesn’t work.

Sin and worship are both very serious topics to God. When we treat either subject flippantly, He gets justifiably angry. Now when it comes to your current state of alignment with God, this is something that is no one else’s business. Should a wife routinely discuss her sex life with the neighbor? No, she should keep bedroom topics in the bedroom. In the same way, if the Holy Spirit is convicting you about some sin, He wants you to respond to HIM, not stand around making a song out of it so you can essentially brag about what a little twerp you’ve been to a roomful of people. We don’t all need to know what your hang ups with God are. If there’s unfinished business between you and the Holy Spirit, then leave the room and go deal with it in a sober, focused prayer session. Don’t sing about it. Who sings at someone when there’s something important to be discussed? When you get into a fight with your friend, do you sing your apology to them? Do you want them singing their apology to you? Wouldn’t you find that theatrical and phony?

Sin is a very serious topic to God. You defying Him is a very serious topic. But here’s the thing about God: He is so incredibly wonderful that He makes reconciliation incredibly easy. Snap your fingers together once. That’s how long it takes for you to get back into alignment with the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t take the length of a song. He convicts, you agree and repent, it’s done. God isn’t interested in harping on the past. What are we doing when we make a song about our blunders? We’re harping on the past. Even worse, we’re acting like God hasn’t accepted our repentance. Is this good for your faith? Not hardly.

Now the problem with confession songs is that you’re never going to find a whole roomful of people who are all being simultaneously convicted of the sin the song is addressing. So by wasting part of the worship hour on some song that is irrelevant for most of the people in the room, you are encouraging souls to practice hypocrisy. You’re encouraging them to make a mockery of the subject of sin by pretending to confess something that they’re really not confessing at all. There’s a term for this kind of behavior: BAD LEADERSHIP.

It’s important to understand the difference between confession and repentance. Confession is just talk. Repentance is actually fixing the problem. Any fool can yammer on about what a terrible sinner he is, and many Christians do this as a means of drawing attention to themselves. They aren’t really sorry—they just think it makes them sound holy to stand around confessing. Well, you can keep your confession because God isn’t interested in your empty words. What He wants from you is repentance. Repentance is the heart attitude which says, “You are right, I was wrong. I don’t want to live for myself anymore. I want Your will to be done in my life.” This is repentance. This is something you say to GOD, not to your pastor, your friends, or the entire congregation. It is GOD who you have sinned against and it is GOD who you need to get back into alignment with. He makes it so easy. If you pray a prayer like this and you actually mean it, God INSTANTLY considers you back in alignment with Him.

Repentance has nothing to do with forgiveness. As a Christian, ALL of your sins have already been forgiven by God. Don’t ask God for something you already have. Rebellion doesn’t negate the forgiveness God has given you. Rebellion is a warring of wills—it’s when your stubborn little soul says, “I don’t care what You want, I’m doing things my way.” As long as this is your bottom line attitude, you’re in a state of spiritual rebellion. How do you change this? You repent. It takes one second. It results in immediate reconciliation between you and God. If you rebelled so long that He became angry with you (yes, God does get angry with Christians), the moment you repent that anger INSTANTLY dissipates. If you repent, He moves on, and He wants you to move on as well. Wallowing in guilt, confessing the same sin over and over—these are traps from Satan. Satan wants you to reject the reality that you are reconciled to God. Satan is ALWAYS trying to get you to treat God like He’s some kind of Ogre who is impossible to please. Well, He’s not. God is incredibly kind, merciful, and compassionate. He DELIGHTS in leaving your rebellion in the past. He has no interest in harping on your mistakes. All He cares about is you staying in alignment with Him.

So if confession is supposed to be between you and God and repentance takes one second and God is so eager to move on from the past, what is the point of singing confession songs? There isn’t any. It’s a lousy idea. When we sing about our rebellious attitudes, we’re focusing on sin instead of on God. This is the wrong focus. The worship hour at Church should be a time when we reflect on and celebrate how wonderful God is. It’s not a time for airing our dirty laundry and wallowing in the muck of our carnality. But, alas, our worship leaders are so invested in looking cool and joining in popular trends, that they show no discernment in the songs they set before you. You come to church to worship God, then they put a song like “The Heart of Worship” before you. Wow.

When the music fades and all is stripped away and I simply come.
Longing just to bring something that’s of worth that will bless Your heart.
I’ll bring You more than a song, for a song in itself is not what You have required.
You search much deeper within, through the way things appear, You’re looking into my heart.

So far so good. We’ve got a picture of you coming to God in some private moment, reflecting on the fact that He wants sincerity. Notice the reference to God searching deep inside of us, examining our core motivations. Yes, this is exactly what He does, and since you’re publicly acknowledging this, why are you going to sing the next line?

I’m coming back to the heart of worship and it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus.
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it when it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus.

Have you really left the heart of worship? Have you been standing here giving Jesus a bunch of empty lip service right until this moment? Are you feeling convicted by the Holy Spirit that He finds your hypocrisy offensive? If not, then what are you apologizing for?

Phony confessions are really annoying to God. When you apologize for something He’s not even convicting you about, it’s like saying, “I’m sorry I stole a car last Tuesday, God,” when you both know that you didn’t steal a car. Don’t give God a bunch of phony confessions just so you can sing along with a leader who is abusing his role. It’s irritating. It’s disrespectful to talk this way to God, especially when you just got through telling Him how you know He looks into your heart. And didn’t you also claim that you wanted to bring Him some offering that would really bless His heart? Well, a phony confession isn’t it.

We all sin. We’re all carnal wretches. But you’re not blessing God by wallowing in your flaws and failures. He has forgiven you. He has adopted you as His child. This should be a time for joy, not a time for moaning on about how lousy you’ve been treating Him. If this song starts playing and you suddenly feel like the Holy Spirit is personally convicting you, then you need to leave the room and go somewhere where you can focus and resolve the situation through sincere repentance. The distracting environment of a bunch of people saying things to God that they don’t really mean is a lousy place to try and take care of business with the Holy Spirit. Go to the bathroom. Go out into the parking lot. And after you’ve repented and gotten back into alignment with God, thank Him for the forgiveness He has ALREADY given you and thank Him for His amazing grace. You’re going to bless God a lot more praising Him out in the parking lot than you are if you stay in the room insulting Him with this song.

King of endless worth, no one could express how much You deserve.
Though I’m weak and poor, all I have is Yours, every single breath!

What makes this song so problematic is that we go from giving God lofty praise that He is very deserving of—calling Him the King of endless worth—and then we promise to respect His desire for sincerity only to then give Him some phony confession.

I’ll bring You more than a song, for a song in itself is not what You have required.
You search much deeper within, through the way things appear, You’re looking into my heart.

It’s very ironic that we sing “a song in itself is not what You have required” only to then go on to give Him exactly that: a song that is nothing more than a song to us because we don’t mean the confession lyrics.

I’m coming back to the heart of worship and it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus.
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it when it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus.

The confession of sins is simply an inappropriate topic for song lyrics. When God alerts you that there is a problem between you and Him, deal with it, don’t sing about it. Don’t stand around publicly confessing something that the Holy Spirit isn’t even convicting you about. Is your worship to God perfect and devoid of all hypocrisy? Of course not, no one’s is. But until HE raises a specific issue with you, He doesn’t want you digging through your mental archives for some sin that you can feel bad about. God doesn’t want you focused on sin in your life, He wants you focused on Him. Be very wary of confession songs.

FURTHER READING:
What it Means to be Aligned with God
Confession Worship Songs: White Flag

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