11 Oct CONFESS
Confession…ugh. Just the sound of the word makes my heart beat a little faster. It’s bad enough to know I’ve sinned, but now I have to tell someone…and admit it to God?!? If I’m honest, I’ve battled with this too often in my life. I struggle with shame and people’s perception of me, so the combo of those two things has led me to hide sins from people I’m close to and from God. Big shocker…this has not gone well for me! God asks us to practice confession for a reason. Personally, the times I’ve chosen not to confess my sins has led to a pattern of feeling guilty, or trying to “fix myself,” which always fails eventually, and then I go on sinning again and again. It has also caused me to feel distant from God and distant in my relationships.
Thankfully, I am now in the process of going through a 12-step recovery program at my church, and I recently completed step 5, which is “Confess.” In step 4, “Inventory,” I went through the extremely arduous, but even more beneficial, process of creating a “searching and fearless moral inventory” of myself. As you can imagine, Step 5 involved me confessing my inventory, much of which was sin that had occurred throughout my life. The goal was to confess my sin to myself, to God, and to someone I trust.
Acknowledging my sin to myself was a long process, as I worked through my inventory and became aware of sins in my past and my present that I needed to come to terms with. My flesh wanted to hide these sins, even from myself. No one likes to welcome the feeling of darkness into their heart as they acknowledge the ugliness of their sin, but as I learned during this part of the process, the light God offers through His Son, Jesus, is enough to cover all of our darkness, even the most shameful, most ugly, most embarrassing places. John 8:12 says “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” No matter what we’ve done or how dark we feel, His love for us has NO LIMITS. Sometimes that is hard for me to believe, but it’s true…He loves us deeply and wants nothing more than to set us free.
Confessing my sins to God was not quite as hard for me as the other two confessions, which was actually a bit eye opening for me. I realized that I have a tendency to fear man more than I fear God. I have always known that God was full of grace, but I think at times I’ve forgotten that He is also a God of justice and will one day judge all sin by His holy standard. He is holy and powerful and is to be respected and revered. “Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for His judgments are true and just.” (Revelation 19:1-2). But the Good News is that He is a God of grace and mercy who can perfectly and completely forgive our sins when we confess them to Him. In 1 John 1:9 it says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Our sins are wiped clean and we are made brand new. We get to start from scratch because we are loved deeply by a God who wants to bear the burden of sin for us. Confession isn’t sounding ALL that bad anymore, right?!?
Confessing my sins to someone I trust was something I (nervously!) did in obedience to what God calls us to do. Satan tried to deceive me with all sorts of lies: “I can hide just a couple of these sins and no one will ever know.” “No one I know has sinned like I have.” “I am too much for the friend I’m confessing to, she won’t know how to respond to me.” “No one will like me once they know what I’ve done.” I could have chosen to believe these lies and continued on a path of isolation that would lead to more guilt and more shame, but instead, I chose to trust God…not only that I was doing the right and best thing by confessing, but that what He alone says about me is true, regardless of what the world thinks. As Psalm 118:6 says, “The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
As I was preparing to confess, God also reminded me that though I may feel alone in my sin, I’m really not. Romans 3:23 says “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Our sins may look different, but we ALL sin…we are all desperately in need of God’s forgiveness. So, although the temptation is to hide sin in order to “be like everyone else,” this is yet another lie from Satan that will only keep us isolated and stuck.
Finally, God reminded me over and over again that He never, ever intended for me to battle sin on my own. My husband, my friends, my family, and my community – all the people who love me – are precious gifts from Him. James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” My people are here to remind me of God’s love, of what He’s done for me, and to point me back to Him. They will pray for me, comfort me, and walk with me through the hardest of times.
Timothy Keller has said, “To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”
After completing my step of confession, I can now say, without a doubt, that it is so worth it and that God honors us in this obedience! Isn’t it true that the hardest things to do are always the things that are the most worth doing? There is SO MUCH freedom offered from realizing our need for God’s mercy and then confessing our sins in order to receive His grace through Jesus Christ. So I will keep on confessing…I will keep laying down my life and my pride – even when it’s so hard – for the One who promises that He is where REAL life is found!