CONFESSION: Gateway To Wholeness
When we do not deal with our sin in an honest and complete manner, we
sometimes sabotage answers and perpetuate the very problems we are trying
to resolve. The problem is, we are not confessing sin. We are doing just
about everything but that. We sheepishly admit to friends that we're, "not
doing so well," spiritually. We nod remorsefully when the pastor mentions
sin issues which touch us. We offer a general prayer, asking God for
forgiveness and to make us "better Christians." But we're still not
confessing our sins.
In the booklet, "Homosexuality: Laying The Axe To The Roots," Ed Hurst and
I challenged readers to deal with attitudes like self-pity, bitterness, and
rebellion and the behaviour which erupts from these attitudes. This
requires confession, repentance, and pleading the blood of Christ in order
to set these attitudes and behaviour aside. But it seems to me that what
most readers are getting out of the booklet is some kind of identification
with their problem, something which makes them say, "Yeah, they know what
I'm going through." What they aren't doing is paying attention to the
spiritual ramifications of dealing with sin.
Several passages in the Bible mention the appropriate way of dealing with
sin. Let's look at a couple of them.
"He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses
and forsakes them will obtain mercy"
(Proverbs 28:13, Emphasis added).
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins
and cleanse us from all unrighteousness"
(1 John 1:9, Emphasis added).
and here is the clincher:
"Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that
you may be healed."
(James 5:16a, Emphasis added)
Why aren't we confessing our sins? Laziness is a problem when it comes to
the private time we spend with the Lord. Often, our prayer time is little
more than lip service to God. We do a quick "once-over" prayer, asking God
in a general way to forgive us our sins. Unfortunately, we don't take the
time to lay the sin out for Him [and ourselves] to deal with. We are too
impatient. We don't take time to ponder the depths of our iniquity.
How much deeper would we know God's love and mercy toward us, if we allowed
ourselves to face it all, sin by sin? It can be a painful process, but the
resulting wholeness and freedom is well worth it. James 4:9-10 directs us
"Be wretched and mourn and weep, Let your laughter be turned to mourning
and your joy to dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will
Another barrier to the confession of sin is the temptation to pass over the
stage of mourning and leap right into "joy everlasting." Too many churches
and teachers ignore the seriousness of sin in pursuit of the freedom of
forgiveness. This kind of approach to sin and forgiveness belittles the
work of Christ and leads to what some have called, "cheap grace"
I've also heard Christian teachers say that we shouldn't get too
introspective because it's bad for our self-esteem; we shouldn't lay
unnecessary guilt trips on ourselves. It's probably true that sitting
around thinking how crummy we are only leads to "pity parties" rather than
anything constructive. But self-pity is not taking a spiritual
"inventory," confession of our sin the way God wants us to is an activity,
not an attitude. We have to decide to do it.
But confessing our sins to the Lord is only a partial solution; the Bible
directs us to, "confess our sins to one another" (James 5:16).
Transparency and risk-taking are two characteristics of fellowship that
we've been hearing more and more about lately. To be who we really are
with one another [and being able to confess our sins to one another] means
taking a big dose of humility. As we open up to others, it's encouraging
to know that rather than being rejected, we might be delightfully surprised
to find out that we have gained the admiration and respect of our friends
and neighbours by being honest [as well as fostering a climate of openness
for them to share, too].
It means setting aside self-righteousness, spiritual pride, that important
position in the community, or church, our reputation, etc. It means taking
a deep breath and admitting that we're far from perfect. Something our
friends and neighbours already knew, by the way; they've just been hoping
that we'd catch on, too!
I know it's hard. I have a difficult time pulling this off myself. I have
a position, a certain amount of authority, the credibility of the ministry
to consider. Plus, I have the kind of temperament which allows me to act
like everything is fine, like sin's not really a big issue with me. Since
I wasn't into overt sin [behaviour] like sleeping around or getting high
before I was a Christian, I'm not going to revert to that kind of behaviour
when I backslide. Basically, I've always come off as the "good kid." So,
when I haven't been fellowshiping with the Lord like I should or have been
harbouring wrong attitudes, it's really hard for anyone to notice my sin
and call me on it. And I'm inclined not to tell!
But how can we be burden-bearers for one another when we never share on
this level? (see Galatians 6:2-3). How can we present one another mature
in Christ if we don't let down the barriers and show ourselves to be the
broken persons we really are, sharing the things that we're really thinking
and feeling? How can corrective teaching and counselling be effective [or
even given] if we never allow our real selves to be visible? (see
Colossians 1:28). When we are silent and careful to observe the
traditional "religious" behaviour codes [no dancing, no swearing, etc.] it
means that we look good, at least for the moment. But who knows our
hearts? No one, unless we voluntarily open ourselves up to one another.
We need someone to stand with us in prayer before the Lord;
"...to have a sin forgiven we must first be fully aware of having committed
it, see it in it's true light [without rationalization], be truly sorry,
and fully renounce it. It is so easy to excuse, to delude ourselves, to
justify our action. When a situation is brought out of the darkness of
secrecy into the open air and light of examination before another human
being who is committed to the truth, it can be seen as it truly is."
This is a part of the process of dying to self, a death which allows Christ
to live in and through us. Having someone witness and pray with us means
that Satan can't bug us about not having properly dealt with a sin issue.
If he comes to accuse us, we can tell him to get lost and remind him that
we took care of it with our friend in prayer. It also means that if we are
tempted to fall again there is someone we can go to that already knows of
our vulnerabilities in this area.
"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.
For if one falls, one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him who is alone
when he falls and has not another to lift him up." (Ecclesiastes
We need to encourage each other to step out and begin to risk ourselves
with those around us. It's true that some brothers and sisters will not
react the way we might hope. But we are called to confess our sins,
nevertheless. We must accept and forgive those brothers and sisters God
places in our lives instead of withdrawing or growing bitter, just as they
are called to pray with us in humility and love.
-- Roberta L Kenney
For further information about homosexuality or about other areas of sexual
brokenness, please contact:
LOVE IN ACTION
G.P.O. Box 1115
ADELAIDE SA 5001
Phone (08) 371 0446
This article is reprinted by permission from:
OUTPOST, 1821 University Avenue South, St. Paul, MN 55104, U.S.A.
Originally published as "Some Thoughts on the Confession of Sin" by Outpost
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