Why don’t Christians confess sin more often? Is it pride? Do we downplay the significance of our sin? Do we even forget the wonderful news of the gospel?
Over a year ago, I sinned against a couple of friends. My sin was unknown to them, and I chose not to confess what I had done. I was embarrassed and worried about what they might think of me (pride). “It’s not that big of a deal; no one was really hurt,” I told myself (downplaying). Then later, “It would just damage our relationship if my friends knew that I had withheld the truth. It wouldn’t help to confess now.” I had confessed to God and knew my sin was paid for by Jesus, but I was still not living in freedom from the sin because I had not confessed to the people I sinned against.
God used a children’s CD, of all things, to turn my heart toward the light. Slugs and Bugs have a song on Psalm 32 that played every 14 songs in the car for a while. “Oh what joy for those whose disobedience has been forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty. When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away and I groaned all day long, day and night. Your hand of discipline was heavy on me.” I was convicted but still told myself those lies/excuses for why I shouldn’t confess.
Then last month at small group, the Spirit convicted me as we discussed 1 Corinthians 4. The Lord “will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart” (verse 5). I vaguely shared my struggle with a couple of friends during our prayer time that night and heard truth again: It is a beautiful thing to confess to others how bad we are, yet live in God’s forgiveness because our debt is already paid by Jesus.
James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed.” This part of his letter connects unconfessed sin with sickness. My soul was in turmoil, in the midst of a battle, really. I was burdened by my unconfessed sin, knowing I was not walking in the light with my friends, but my pride kept me silent. In His mercy, God patiently disciplined me, as I was intent on staying in the darkness. He humbled me, showed me the significance of my sin toward my friends, and helped me see and believe the power of Jesus’ work on the cross.
Last month, I confessed my deceit, and praise God, my friends were gracious and forgiving. They had the chance to be like Jesus and take the blow for my sin against them. A beautiful thing, indeed. The good news of the gospel is that God himself provided a way for us to be free from sin and free to glorify Him. Jesus’ death and resurrection paid our debt of sin against God and “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). No condemnation!
So come, let’s humble ourselves and repent often. Find a trusted pastor, friend, or your spouse to confess sin and walk in the light together. We remember and show off God’s grace toward us each time we do. It is a hard battle, but God is with us to fight.
Let’s see our sin for what it really is – rebellion against God – and let’s see God as our long-suffering, forgiving Father. Even though we desire darkness, we can repent and rest in what Christ accomplished for us: right standing before the God of light.
Let’s lift up our God and His beautiful gospel in our confession and forgiveness with one another. May this cause us to grow closer as the body and praise God as we see Him making one another holy by the power of His Spirit.
For more reading and meditation, go to Psalm 32: 1-5, “You Forgave Me” by Slugs and Bugs, John 3:19-21, and 1 John 1:5-10.