As Christians, confession is a fundamental aspect of our faith. From the time we are little tikes, we are taught that it is one of the ABCs of salvation–admit, believe, confess. Though almost all of us give our intellectual assent to this core principle, as with many other things, we are much less inclined to integrate the concept into our daily lives. The truth is, confession, both to God and our fellow man, is hard; and most of us are accustomed to taking the path of least resistance. So, what exactly makes confession so difficult?
The answer is multi-faceted. First, though we may be loath to admit it, we really love our sin. It makes us feel good. It is easy and offers that oh-so-lovely instant gratification. John 3:19-20 puts it bluntly: “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.” Indeed, confession is all about bringing things to light. But sadly, our flesh prefers the dark.
Second, we may not confess because we feel ashamed. We may fear what others will think of us once our true character is exposed. Nothing stings our pride more than admitting wrongdoing. Nevertheless, Romans 8:1 assures us that, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” The Lord’s opinion of us surely won’t be changed, for He already knows everything and loves us unconditionally if we belong to Him! And, as for fellow believers, those who are truly in the faith should extend the same love, mercy, and grace they have received in Christ.
Finally, perhaps we do not confess because we never self-evaluate. We may be ignorant or even willfully blind to patterns of sin in our lives. During the times when we are unsure of our sin, we can pray as David did. “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24)
Though confession is often hard and uncomfortable, God’s Word makes it clear that it is expected of us. We are to regularly confess our sins to God, as evidenced in the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:12) and 1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Furthermore, James 5:16 tells us to confess to one another. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”Ephesians 5:32 tells us to “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another.” That last part, forgiving one another, presents the expectation that we will often be confessing to one another as members of the body of Christ.
Indeed, do not undervalue confessing to fellow believers. Of course, this does not mean spouting off a litany of your sins to anyone who will listen. Find a trusted friend, family member, or pastor to have that conversation with. It will probably feel like a weight off your shoulders and will also give you the added benefit of future accountability.
The good news is that confession, like all of God’s commands, is ultimately for our good. When we confess, we are taking a huge step forward in claiming victory over our sin! And ultimately, choosing the path of confession and then repentance, will draw us into closer fellowship with the Lord. And He, my friend, is worth so much more than anything you feel you are gaining by holding onto your sin.