Summary: Confession is a necessary ongoing practice to break down the wall of sin between ourselves and God, helping us to grow in deeper in Christ.
In the Bible, one of the primary messages that shines through is God’s unconditional love for each one of us no matter how much we fail him and his desire for us to walk in close relationship with him. We have been focusing over the last several weeks on how we grow spiritually which means how we have that closer walk with him, how we get to know him better, and reflect his character more.
The Reality of Sin and the Need for Confession
The Bible is clear however that one thing gets in the way of our spiritual growth, our relationship with God, sin.
Is 59:2 But there is a problem-- your sins have cut you off from God. Because of your sin, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.
Before we trust in Jesus Christ, our sin separates us eternally from God until we are covered by the blood of Jesus. Once we trust in Jesus as our savior and become Christians we are forgiven of our sin , however we still struggle with sin. God has set us free from sin, but we still battle with it. In 1 John he writes, “if we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing his words have no place in our hearts (v. 10).” Even as Christians, we sin, and our sin separates us from God, perhaps not eternally (we still will go to heaven), but we cannot grow spiritually with sin hanging around us.
As Christians we have the dangerous tendency to ignore our sin, after all I’m a Christian I shouldn’t be doing this. Or we cover up our sin because we think we are alone, the only Christian who is suffering with this or we are afraid of being condemned by other Christian believers. And so we hide it and suffer alone in the darkness, not willing to bring our sin into the light. Or perhaps we try to cover it up by doing more good things like serving Jesus, hoping that if we do enough good deeds for Jesus it will cover our bad acts. On the outside we might look like a good Christian but inwardly we are a graveyard, to use one of Jesus’ analogies.
Another thing we do with sin is excuse it by comparing our sin to other people to make us feel like were really not that bad. “Well my sin isn’t nearly as bad as his or hers.” Jesus taught on the mistake of comparing our sin to others. Jesus told a story about two men going to the temple to pray, one a tax collector and the other a Pharisee, a pious religious leader (Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisee stood and prayed, ‘thank you that I am not like these other men who do evil, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice and week and tithe all I own.’ When the tax collector prayed he wouldn’t even look up to heaven, he beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me a sinner.” Jesus said, “I tell you the truth this man, rather than the other, went home justified (or made right) before God.” The tax collector was restored into relationship with God because he admitted his sin and sought God’s mercy. The Pharisee was not justified because he compared himself to the tax collector and not to God. We must be careful not to overlook our sin by comparing ourselves with others. We need to compare ourselves to a pure and holy God, demonstrated perfectly in Jesus Christ.
We are also good at making excuses for our sin, ‘it was my parents fault for raising me wrong,’ ‘it’s my genetics, I’m German, Irish, Polish, etc. that’s why I’m the way I am,’ ‘it’s a chemical imbalance.’ I just read of a new excuse we could use. I was reading an article on germs in last week’s copy of Newsweek magazine. Researchers at Nestle, of all places, believed they’ve discovered microbes which give people a craving for chocolate. So if you struggle with the sin of gluttony, no problem, it’s your bacteria’s fault. Too often we point the finger at someone else rather than ourselves? Of course you know I like football, and it’s always amusing to me when there is a penalty flag thrown in a game the players start pointing their fingers at the opposite team. How many marriages end up in divorce because one or both of the couple won’t look at themselves and admit their own part, their own sin? Or if we do confess, too often we qualify our confession, “I did this…but they did that first.” Or it begins as a confession but ends up an excuse, “sorry for what I did, I was having a bad day.”