Summary: Confession is hard, but if we believe the bible, then confession is good news.
“Confessions of the Heart”
Are we basically good or basically bad?
Hollywood religion is undecided.
Basically good = Tarzan or Pocahontas. “Out there” there are still pristine societies to be discovered – deep in the jungles there exist tribes without sin – untainted by the failings of western “civilized” society.
Basically bad = Lord of the Flies. In this story good British school boys find themselves abandoned on a deserted island and they immediately turn in to savages (of course they do – they’re boys!). The point of the story is that deep within each of their little hearts lives a monster that, left unchecked, goes wild. In other words, we’re basically bad.
"Mosquito Coast" with Harrison Ford is another example. In that movie he leaves modern America and moves into a South American jungle. While he’s there he discovers that the evils that lurked in him back home are still there – his corruption comes with him.
So are we basically good, or are we basically bad?
The Bible tells us that humanity was once basically good – but since the Garden of Eden event we have been basically bad – we are born corrupt. And we each experience that – almost daily.
Illustration: I stood up a friend this week and had to confess to him that I had simply been careless. I could come up with no excuse. The best I could do was to buy him a coffee as a peace offering.
But you see, just as the bible points out that humanity is now, since the Garden of Eden, basically corrupt – with a propensity to fail and do wrong – it also points the way forward out of that state. And part of this way forward is the practice of confession.
Confession is hard, but if we believe the bible, confession is good news.
PR 28:13 He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
Confession has been described as a daily baptism (Augustine). That is, each time we confess our wrongdoing we die to that part of the old self. Then leaving our sin, shame and guilt behind we are washed clean by the mercy of God and his forgiveness and we are free to rise from that moment to a renewed life reconciled to God – free of any unresolved guilt and released from any lingering shame.
And confession is not only for individuals. As a nation we are struggling with the question of reconciliation with Aboriginal Australians. Should our PM confess and say “sorry” for the sins of our forefathers on our behalf, or shouldn’t he?
And even now, more than 50 years after the event, people are being tracked down for crimes committed in WWII. All of this simply illustrates a widespread longing in our culture, for confession and reconciliation. It’s almost instinctive for humans to want an acknowledgement of responsibility and an admission of guilt.
And alongside all this is the church – the community of Christian Believers who have been given a ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18).
It seems to me, that if we want to move deeper in our understanding of God or in our Christian experience and if we want to see God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven – then an understanding and practice of confession will improve our chances.
1 John 1:9 points out how we might start.
1JN 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1. Confession is our responsibility.
The first thing that jumps out here is the fact that confession is our responsibility.
“If we confess our sins”
It’s been said that God loves us so much that he would take 1000 steps just to be closer to us – but the last step is always up to us. God is always willing to forgive – but confession is our responsibility.
Confession must be our initiative
And the word ‘confession’ actually means, “to say the same things about.” So to confess sin then is to say the same thing about it that God says about it.
Confession is not about praying a beautiful prayer, or making excuses, or trying to impress God or other Christians. True confession is naming sin – calling it by name what God calls it: envy, hatred, lust, deceit, or whatever it may be. Confession simply means being honest with ourselves and with God, and if others are involved, being honest with them too.
I’ve said it before – but I honestly believe that Christians are the most courageous people. They are willing to be honest with God about themselves and their short comings as ugly as that sometimes may be. Confessing Christians are under no deception – they admit their sin, face it squarely and judge it for what it is – a falling short of God’s standard.