The protestation of innocence, and thus of religious cleanliness and piety, through a series of denials of specific actions deemed offensive to a god. The confessor engages in a series of protests of the simple form "I did not do this sin, X". The simplest form is already evidenced in the Hebrew Bible. Cf. Deuteronomy 26.13f:
I have purged my house of the sacred portion and I have given them to the Levite, the alien, the orphan, and the widow, just as you have commanded me. In this I have not broken or forgotten any of your commandments: I have not eaten any of the tithe as a mourner; I have not brought any of it out as one unclean; I have not offered any of it to the dead.
The prayer ends, "Look down then, from heaven...and bless your people Israel...". The petitioner is worthy of blessing because of his innocence, proven by the statement. The formula is more common still in Egyptian ritual. Spell 125 in the Book of the Dead:
I am pure. My purity is the purity of this great Phoenix...O far-strider who came forth from Heliopolis, I have not sinned. O flame-embracer who came forth from Kheraha, I have not robbed. O Beaked One who can forth from Hermopolis, I have not been greedy. O swallower of shadows who came forth from the cavern, I have not stolen...
The spell continues; there are some 42 declarations in all, each of them addressing a god under an epithet, followed by a negative statement. Unlike the Hebrew text, however, Egyptian magic suggests that these are more than simple attestations of innocence; each declaration carries an actualizing force. Thus, by declaring that he has not been greedy, the speaker purges himself of the sin of greed, and thus any religious consequences in the afterlife.
The statements are appeals to justice, and places the speaker in a context of correct action and deserved consequences. He has already here accepted that theft or greed will result in punishment; since he is innocent, or becomes innocent in speaking the formula, it is also just that he will not be punished, and thus will win his reward in the afterlife (or, in this case, pass one of the trials of the gates of the underworld).
This type of magical protest is famously taken up in Tibullus, I.3.51ff, when he states:
parce pater! timidum non me periuria terrent,
non dicta in sanctos inpia verba deos!
Spare me, father, threats of perjury don't frighten me,
For I've not spoken impious words against the gods!
The poet declares his innocence by denying a particular wrong action. It has been suggested that Tibullus assimilated many elements of Egyptian and Near Eastern ritual and magic into his poetry by contact with cults of Isis, then popular in Rome. But Egyptian influences on Tibullus, and on Latin Literature in general, are, of course, subjects for another node.