The Power of Christian Confession
Confession to God and someone we trust is a powerful tool that Christians can use to reach for God's forgiveness and healing.
Psalm 32: 2-7
Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.
"Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.
"Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
The boy, the witch, and Turkish Delight
In C.S. Lewis’s beloved book "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe," a boy named Edmund meets a queen who is actually an evil sorceress, the White Witch. She tries to beguile him into revealing information about his brother and two sisters with delicious hot chocolate and Turkish Delight.
When Edmund is not able to tell the White Witch what she wants to know, she throws him in prison. Suddenly, he is miserable in a cold stark place. He longed for Turkish Delight but is only given stale bread to eat.
Sin is like that. It starts out to be Turkish Delight and ends up as stale bread in a prison. Sin is toxic to us. If we don't confess it, our bones will waste away and we will groan all day long. Our life will be like a hot summer day that saps all of our energy.
Jesus said that the greatest commandments are to love God with all our might and love our neighbor as ourselves. These commands form the laws and principles for Christian living. When we break the laws, there are penalties. We are sinners cut off from God's grace and mercy, Much as we may want to minimize or ignore it, sin is like a raging flood that destroys everything in its path.
The good news is that we don't have to stay in such a miserable state. We can confess our sins and receive healing.
How people often deal with sin
Substance Abuse: We use drugs or alcohol to numb the proddings of our conscience.
Stuff it: We deny that we have sinned, stuff sin deep in our psyches, and pretend it doesn't exist.
Run from it: We respond to the shame, guilt, and pain of sin by running away from it. We try to ignore sin's effects by overscheduling ourselves, becoming workaholics, or obessive compulsive disorder behaviors.
Claim that it is not sin: We claim that we are not sinning at all. We belittle those who believe otherwise and accuse them of narrow-mindedness and bigotry.
These avoidance behaviors just don't work. Our sin will always come back to bite us. If we claim that we haven't sinned, we are calling God a liar and His word is not in us (1John 1:10). Confession on the other hand, has the awesome power to help us be cleansed of our sins.
Psalm 32: 2-7
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
We will not prosper though, if we conceal our sins (Proverbs 28:13). God wants us to admit what we have done wrong and to seek His mercy. If we confess our sins to God and genuinely repent, he will cleanse us (1 John 1:9). In God, there is safety and protection from harm.
Steps to confession
- Pray to God that He will show us our sins and help us to repent from them
- Feel genuinely sorry and repentant about our sin
- Face the truth about ourselves
- We need to face our sin and admit it instead of denying it or numbing the pain - we will know the truth and it will free us (John 8:32)
- Stop blaming others for our sins and accepting responsibility for them
- Share our sin with someone we trust
- Forgive ourselves for the sin
- Trust that God will forgive and forget our sins when we ask Him
- Experience freedom from guilt and shame and the beginning of emotional healing
- Feel our pain diminish and go away
- Re-establish our relationship with God
Finding someone to hear our confession
Admitting our sins to another person is a humbling experience, but also a healing one. We need to be careful who we choose to hear our confession. It should be someone who truly cares about us and have proven to us that they are trustworthy.
Can they keep a secret?
Can they handle knowing this information about us?
Will they listen without judgment?
These are some of the questions we need to ask before we confide in another person.
The other person may be able to give us valuable insight into why we sinned. They also can encourage us not to repeat our mistakes. People who can be trusted with our secret sins can help us go through the confession process when we fall again, as we weak human beings inevitably will.
In the parable of the prodigal son, a man took his inheritance and squandered it in wine, women and song. When the money ran out, he was reduced to eating slops. The man realized that he had sinned against his father and God, and decided to throw himself on the mercy of his father.
The prodigal son thought that, if he was lucky, his father would take him on as a servant. He was probably shocked when his father loved and embraced him as his son. In the same way, God forgives and cherishes us when we repent and confess sins to Him.
Once we have confessed to God and someone we trust, we can let go of our guilt and shame. Our emotional pain will diminish. We will probably still have to face the consequences of our sin, but God will give us the strength to get through whatever life throws at us.