In the past, I’ve been overly critical of my Catholic friends who attend confession. I had solid biblical evidence that confession to a priest was unnecessary, as there was “but one mediator between God and man, and that was Christ.” I argued that the practice of confession discouraged believers from interacting directly with God themselves. I also pointed out that a priest, a sinner himself, was incapable of “forgiving” anyone of sin.
However, what I didn’t understand at the time was the tremendous value of confessing to another believer. Only recently have I come to discover the value of confession and it is this: Confession powerfully diminishes the hold certain sins have over me.
It amazes me that I have been a follower of Jesus for some 20 years, a church attender my entire life and a leader in the church for over 10 years, and I am only now learning about this tremendous resource in the battle against sin. When our sin is hidden and secret, it grows like mold in a dark and damp basement. But when we confess it out loud, to another believer, it shrinks back. I’m learning that when sin is exposed to the light of the gospel and brought out into a safe arena of public confession, its power is weakened significantly.
Additionally, when I am authentic with other believers, when I let them see me for who I am and what I am, I quit playing the game. You know the game – get dressed up for church, slap on a smile and pretend to be perfect. The reality is, I’m a mess. My family is a mess. God has cleaned us up quite a bit, but there’s more than few rough edges. When we start with this basic understanding of one another, confession is no longer scary. In fact, it becomes healing.
I long to be a part of a community of believers who can be authentic, confessional and redemptive.
In the last few weeks, I have found myself confessing my sin to my husband and a close friend. (It’s a real switch for me because I use to be all about confessing other people’s sins.) I’ll be honest with you…it’s not fun. In the beginning it is embarrassing. I don’t like people to know my hidden struggles. But in the end, there is a tremendous lifting of my soul following confession. There is a victory won in the act of confessing itself.
In addition, being confessional invites Christians I trust to speak truth into my life. Over the last few weeks, participating in confession has resulted in the exposure of lies, the challenge to memorize related Scriptures and the beginning of accountability.
Now, don’t get my wrong. I’m not planning to start confessing to my entire small group over coffee. You won’t see me standing up in front of my church congregation any time soon with something I need to get off my chest. Nor will I put myself in an awkward position of confessing to a new believer or to someone of the opposite sex, other than my husband or dad. But in the right time, in the right place with the right person, confession has a new place in my life and I am already reaping the benefits.
If confession is not a part of your Christian walk, let me encourage you to give it a try. In addition to coming to the Lord to ask forgiveness, share your struggle with another believer. Ask this friend to pray with you and for you in this area. Ask them to speak God’s truth and wisdom into your situation. Will you be more forgiven than if you had confessed to the Lord alone? Of course not! Will the power of the sin simply disappear – probably not. But I think you will notice a difference and experience for yourself, perhaps for the very first time, the power of confession.
She offers help to spouses of sexual strugglers through phone coaching and online spouses’ support groups.
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