Summary: Continuing our look at Spiritual Disciplines and the importance of confession.
Spiritual Disciplines: Confession
June 13, 2021
This week, we’re looking at the spiritual discipline of confession, so I thought I would start with a confession. Well, before I start, let me preface this with the fact that confession is not easy to do.
In my family I am probably the most persnickity / particular / meticulous / nitpicky person, especially about certain things. I’m trying to not use a certain word. Don’t judge me, because some of you are this way, too, but won’t admit it.
I believe when you open a package, you need to open it carefully. You cut the corner off, or you gently rip the bag open. That’s how it’s supposed to be. I think that makes sense. You know what I mean?
Well, one day I came in and there was a bag of chips, just ripped open. It’s like these pictures. You cannot cleanly put the bag away. It gripes me.
So, I got everyone together. I know I was innocent, because I wouldn’t do that and if I did, I would make sure to fix the bag. So, I showed everyone the bag. Then I asked Debbie, Joshua, and Zachary. . . did you do this?
Everyone looked at me with blank looks and said they didn’t do it. Are you serious?! Someone had to do it. In the whole scheme of things, it wasn’t a big deal. I was more irritated than mad. I just wanted to know the culprit. Nobody, absolutely nobody would confess! And they all did it with straight faces.
To this day, I still don’t know who did it. I have my suspicions.
I have 2 points - 1) I need help. 2) and most importantly, confession isn’t easy.
Is it that way with you? Have you ever done something and admitting what you did, was not easy? It may have been no big deal, but you were freaked out about it, so you kept quiet. Maybe it was an accident, or you forgot to tell someone something or you stained that new white sofa.
We don’t teach children to lie, but when you ask them, ‘did you eat that cookie?’ They quickly learn to say NO, while their face is cookie stained. Confession isn’t easy. Have you ever been there?
You made that stain, committed that sin, messed up somewhere along the way. You see, the truth is, we’ve all stained the sofa. Some of the stains are small and barely noticeable. But some of them bleed through the entire fabric of our lives. They are the stains we regret and think about as we lay in bed at night, staring at the ceiling, wishing we could go back in time and change those moments.
As difficult as confessing to one another might be, many of us struggle with living in the reality of God’s forgiveness. We can intellectualize God’s gift of forgiveness, yet it doesn’t work its way into our everyday living.
This inability to accept the reality of forgiveness is the reason God has given us the practice of confession. Sometimes people wonder, ‘If I’m a Christian and God has already forgiven me, why should I have to confess?’ It’s a good question.
Confession is not something God has us do because He needs it. God isn’t clutching tightly to His mercy, as if we have to pry it from His fingers. We confess in order to heal and be changed.
When we practice confession, we’re liberated from our guilt; and hopefully we enter the transformational process in which we will become less likely to sin in the same way in the future. Sin begins to look and feel less attractive.
There are two audiences we come before in confession. In James 5, James has been telling the people to offer prayers for one another – which can bring healing to those who are sick. Then James said,
16 ... confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” - James 5:16
James gives us one type of confession - confession to one another. One very important point to keep in mind is that James was speaking to Christians confessing to other Christians. The belief is that we can listen and encourage in a way others who are not Christ followers can’t. Not that they can’t be helpful, but our ultimate forgiver is Jesus. This hopefully helps the confessor to find peace as they move forward in their relationship with others and with God.
When we confess to one another, we find our burdens can be lifted as we find comfort from a spiritually mature brother or sister in Christ. This helps us experience reconciliation with God and others and find freedom from our sins. Sometimes we need to talk to someone and talk out what’s going on in our lives.