I Have a Confession

I have a confession: Confessing sin is not easy.

Maybe that’s not surprising because you know it isn’t easy either.

So I guess the real question is, Why is it so hard to confess sins and do we even need to?

         Confession of sin does not come easily or naturally to us because sin is most powerful in the darkness and to confess our sins is to bring our darkness into the light. Think about it: in the life of a Christian, sin that nobody knows about can’t be addressed, it can’t be confronted, it can’t be challenged. If I don’t tell you or anyone else about my sin, it’s easier for me to believe I can deal with it on my own.

         That’s another lie sin like to tell us: “It’s ok, you don’t have to tell anyone about me because you can deal with me on your own.” Do you know how a pack of wolves attacks a herd of bison? They charge the herd in order to scare one member into breaking away from the herd, or they chase after the slowest one. Either way, it’s an unfair fight and one in which the target is always singular. In the same way, unconfessed sin isolates us from our brothers and sisters in Christ because the guilt and the shame will inevitably gnaw at us until we believe “I don’t belong here. Everybody else here has it together and I’m a terrible wreck. Surely God doesn’t love me.”

         But like I said, that’s a lie sin tells us—it just isn’t true! It isn’t true that you’re so messed up you don’t belong. Of course you belong—what makes us think that church is only for people who have it all together? If Jesus was looking for people like this, would He have chosen any of the disciples? Or Paul? Or anybody? And it’s an even BIGGER lie that God doesn’t love you! Christians absolutely have to realize and PREACH this truth every day: God loves you as you are, but He promises not to keep you that way—and that’s a good thing.

         So, we don’t like to confess sin because we think we can deal with it on our own, and eventually it isolates us away from anyone or anything that can help us escape – just like an abusive relationship. But when we bring light into the darkness, when we let Jesus’ power to destroy sin in our lives work to its fullest, we experience the love and joy and peace that He promises.

         I hope by now we can see that the answer to our second question, Do we need to confess our sins?, is a big fat YES. If we don’t admit we have a problem, how can we ever hope to fix it? We could look at several texts, but I really like how 1 John 1:5-10 says it plainly, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (verses 8-9). I love these verses because they clue us in to the importance of an honest appraisal of ourselves. Confession of sin is about being honest with ourselves and God as much as it is about being honest with each other.

         So if we are going to be people who confess our sins, here are some things I think can help us put this difficult but necessary discipline into practice:

  1. Confess sin to someone who only wants godly good for you, not someone who would dismiss your concerns as trivial, and especially not to someone who could be tempted to join you.
  2. Be extra careful about confessing sins to someone of the opposite sex. In fact, if you’re married I would recommend generally not to do this at all. Confession is an act of sharing an intimate part of ourselves, and if you’re married and actually want to have a God-honoring marriage then you have given up your freedom of emotional intimacy with members of the opposite sex (who aren’t family members, obviously). An exception could be confessing to a minister of the opposite sex, but extra caution in this regard is always a good thing.
  3. Confession must also be combined with repentance to be maximally effective. Simply “getting it off our chest” or telling someone a sin to free ourselves of the burden of keeping a secret isn’t enough. We may feel better afterwards, at least a while. But if that’s all we’re doing then it isn’t really confession – it’s sharing secrets. Real confession and repentance are two sides of the same coin.
 
I hope as we start to dig into our study of 1—3 John, we will be convicted to find appropriate ways to confess our sins to one another and really open ourselves up to the Christ-centered, Holy Spirit-empowered healing God offers through confession of sin.
 
– Kevin 

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