The Bible doesn’t actually speak about confession of sin as often as one might think. The New Testament speaks regularly about “confessing the gospel” or making the “good confession” of faith. Confession of sin may be indirectly implied in the direct call to repent from sin, but such calls seem to come through faith invitations to non-believers, not necessarily calls to believers to confess their sins regularly. In the N.T., James 5.16 and John 1John 1.9 appear to be among a select number of passages where the practice of confessing sin is encouraged.
I am not sure if Scripture’s relative silence concerning confession is the reason I never developed a personal practice of confession. The reformer in me wants to blame my aversion for the practice on its perversion by the Catholic Church. In truth, the reason probably has much more to do with choosing to dedicate any “confessional” energies towards hiding, denying, or redefining my sin. Confession doesn’t feel necessary or important. Studying 1John this week, in addition to reading the Lord’s instruction about asking forgiveness when disciples pray, has left me convicted.
Good for a blog, but bad for me, being CONVICTED isn’t always CONVINCING enough for me to implement a new practice. It just feels like duty. A few days of meditation on the “benefits” of confession, however, has moved me to confess my failure to confess. In a relatively short amount of time, I have come to view confession less as a duty and more as a grace.
Here are at least TEN things that come with more confession (there are more):
- More Humility: When I confess my sin daily, I come face to face with the darkness within me. Walking in the light means not only exposing one’s sin, but actually calling it what it is when you see it. Confession is sanctifying, reminding me of my weaknesses and my need for a savior. It keeps me humble and dependent. No more pride.
- More Grace: When I confess my sin daily, I am reminded not only of God’s holiness, but also of his incredible forgiveness. The more sinful I find myself to be, the more gracious I find God to be. Confession reminds me that grace is freely offered, but that God required it by sacrificing His Son. That is how much I am loved. Without confession, I not only deny my own faithlessness, but dismiss God’s faithfulness. No more doubt.
- More Intimacy: When I confess my sin daily, I come into relationship with God in a more intimate way. A prayer of confession is not so much for God, as he already knows what I have done. It is my way of coming into relationship with transparency and without fear of rejection. Daily confession brings me closer to God every day, protecting me from the temptation to ever hide when sin catches me. No more distance.
- More Boldness: When I confess my sin daily, causes me to put my confidence in Christ and not in myself. Without confession, I can be tempted to believe that victory will come through my own strength or that defeat will come because of my weaknesses. Confession gives me a confidence because I am reminded that it is Christ who lives through me. No more fear.
- More Freedom: When I confess my sin daily, I am freed from having to hide, deny, or redefine my sin. Without confession, my energies are drained in an attempt to keep up appearances of holiness (or really trying to be holy!). When I confess, I admit that the law is good, that I am bad, and that I am saved in Christ. No more pretenses.
- More Empathy: When I confess my sin daily, I remember my weaknesses. Remembering my weaknesses helps me to be more empathetic toward the struggles of others. Confession protects me from self-righteous attitudes and unrealistic views of sanctification in others. As I see how patient God is with me, I become more patient with others. No more frustration.
- More Forgiveness: When I confess my sin daily, I am more forgiving of others. When people are unforgiving, they either don’t believe they have been forgiven themselves OR they deny all that they have been forgiven of. Asking for forgiveness of my sin against God, makes me more forgiving toward those who sin against me. No more bitterness.
- More Strength: When I confess my sin daily, I am freed from God’s heavy hand. In Psalm 32, David writes about the suffering that comes by the hand of God when sin remains unconfessed. Unconfessed sin rots one from the inside out; it takes one’s strength, leaves one depressed, and dries up the soul. Confession brings a renewed spirit, renewed strength, and and a renewed hope. No more depression.
- More Joy: When I confess my sin daily, I am more joyful. Specifically, I am joyful about my salvation in Christ (Psalm 51). No more sorrow.
- More Fellowship: When I confess my sin daily, I grow closer to those who walk in the light with me. Those who love Jesus, confess theirs sins to one another, encouraging one another and stirring each other on toward good works. No more loneliness.