The discipline of confession is one that I have been accidentally practicing over the past year. I say ‘accidentally’ because I didn’t intentionally set out to confess more often and I didn’t just finally muster up the guts to leak out all my secrets. I’ve simply been in a new kind of conversation with God that has changed me in every way. In my asking God to reveal blind spots of sin in my life, in the most tender of ways, He began to point out the sin in every area of my life. So, my practice of confession began.
Knowing God has always been a part of my life; I knelt down by my bed with my Daddy and invited Jesus into my life when I was five, I was raised by parents who love God deeply, most of our friends were Christians and a lot of what we did with our time centered around ministry and the church. Gifts that, as I grow older, the more I cherish. But in my immersion of Christian culture and practices, and due to the fact that I am by nature a “conceal it, don’t feel it, don’t let it show” kind of gal, my self-expectations rose to the high heavens, making confession something to be feared.
I’ve simply been in a new kind of conversation with God that has changed me in every way.
Confession is often our practice of admitting sin to God or to each other, which is what freaks us out. But it isn’t just that. Confession is telling the truth…which also freaks us out. Some truths are easy to tell, while others are scary. And telling the truth isn’t always about revealing sin. Sometimes it is just speaking honestly about how we feel, or admitting that we don’t “have it all together,” or that we just aren’t sure what God’s up to–or if He’s up to anything at all. Scripture tells us that confession is the key to any real, lasting relationship with God or with each other. In the act of confession we are allowing ourselves to be known in the most vulnerable places, yet opening ourselves up to being loved in the deepest of ways.
“I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgression to the Lord’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.” –Psalm 32:5
The psalmist has given us such a good example of a commitment to honesty with the Lord. Though he knew he had the option to cover up or hide the truth from an all-knowing God, he decided to stand in agreement with God and tell Him the truth, allowing forgiveness and deliverance to conquer. And when Jesus hung on the cross and took His last breath, the veil in the temple serving as a barrier between man and God was torn in two. Because of Jesus, the lines of communication between God and His people are forever open, giving us access to all of His grace, all of His mercy, all of HIM.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another that you may be healed.” –James 5:16
Only in our confession of the good, the bad, and the ugly, can we pray accurately for one another.
The surrounding context of this passage in James explains how we should function together as a body when someone is sick, in sin, or suffering. Therefore, James is calling us to confess to each other our struggles, our trials, our joys, and our sorrows so that we may prop one another up when we’re about to keel over, come in with fresh faith when ours is fading, and speak truth when lies fill our head. Only in our confession of the good, the bad, and the ugly, can we pray accurately for one another. When I lack faith to pray, my community prays for me. When I tell them the truth, they spring into action. And it’s beautiful.
So why confession? What is the purpose of it…and what impact does it really have?
Repentance, by definition, is “a change in direction.” While telling God and others the truth about the contents of our heart, our words are empty if our confession doesn’t create in us an attitude of repentance. We can tell the truth all day long and it can have no effect on us. Likewise, we can repent until we’re blue in the face, but until we’ve confessed, we’re headed in the wrong direction. In my most honest moments with Jesus, He has been the nearest and the most tender; “His kindness leads us to repentance” (Romans 2:4). God is most worthy of our honesty, and our intimacy with Him will know no bounds.
Repentance, by definition, is “a change in direction.”
Confession, repentance, and honesty with God and people will be exhausting and short-lived if not produced by the Word of God and the Spirit of God. My application for this process is nothing more than daily time in God’s Word, inviting Him to open your eyes to your need for Him. A heart reconciled to God can only come from the power of the scriptures and its ability to change us from the inside out. Meet with the Lord today, and every day, and as Psalm 18 declares, He will illuminate your darkness.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” –Psalm 103:2-5 & 8
Did you like today’s post? Be sure to subscribe to our email list and for a limited time, receive our FREE eBook Overcoming the Darkness, as our thanks to you!
Image Credit: Lawrence OP, Creative Commons. Some changes made.