By John Ruiz-Bueno

Nobody wants to devote any time or attention to confession. It's uncomfortable. It demands change. It requires trust. Confession is one of the most under-emphasized core aspects of Christian living, and its absence is a major reason there are so many half-hearted (faux?) Christians alive today. My personal salvation story is that I had been raised in the church, but had never truly confessed a sin personal to me. I had confessed and repented of "general sin" and the external nature of my sins, but had never actually acknowledged how deeply rooted it was in my heart until convicted by a faithful brother in Christ — and that confession began my journey.

The entire message of the Gospel is predicated on the concept of confession with an "If we confess" (1 John 1:9), for if we believe we are without sin we don't realize our need for a savior and there is no truth in us (1 John 1:8). Our ongoing healing and sanctification depends on confession (James 5:16). It is the key to mercy, without which we cannot prosper (Proverbs 28:13). It was central to a man after God's own heart (Psalm 32:5). It was practiced widely in the early church (Acts 19:18). How have we strayed so far that the most a Christian is willing to confess is: "I didn't read my Bible enough this week"? We have become stale and dull because we're not willing to expose and cast out that which holds us back from being fruitful disciple-makers (Matthew 13:7, 22). No wonder the church isn't making disciples like it used to.

To be clear, I'm not talking about confessing to a priest. I'm simply saying that we should be living lives of humility, allowing people to see us for who we really are, not ashamed of our weaknesses, but boasting in them! For when we are weak in the world's eyes, Christ is strong in us (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). When people see us in all our grizzly muck of a flesh, it only speaks that much more as to how powerful God's grace is in forgiving us. (Romans 5:20). Why should we steal from God's glory that we should preserve some dignity and self-image? Which would you rather the public see in you: (1) a standard they can't live up to, or (2) your need for a savior and how He meets that need? Your thoughts aside, which would be more beneficial to advancing God's Kingdom?

Confession is a lifestyle and not a religious practice. We are to confess our sins to one another for the purpose of prayer and healing (James 5:16). The healing it is talking about is the emotional wounds at the core of your sins and the lies that exasperate them. Confession is meant to help others expose these core lies and wounds in us so that they can be healed, just as virtually every physical ailment brought to Jesus was met with a spiritual cure: "Your sins are forgiven." The Gospel is the core of that healing, and the start of the Gospel is a confession that we are sinners who need Jesus.

David says the same thing in Psalm 32:3-5:
When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you and my iniquity I did not hide; I said `I will confess my transgressions to the Lord`; and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
Sin is harbored in our flesh, not our spirit. So, although there is no longer a spiritual consequence for our sin, it does have a grave physical consequence. This should not be taken lightly (see 1 Corinthians 10:23 and 6:12).

I believe that most Christians don't take confession seriously because their pastors are too afraid of modeling it for their congregations. There is a false public perception that pastors must be holier than everyone else. Indeed, 1 Timothy 3 does give higher standards for church leaders than for everyone else, but this is for practical reasons and not to presume that they must have "less sin" than anyone else, as if that were even possible. Even when I have observed pastors "confessing" to their congregations, it usually takes one of the following forms: (1) it is superficial, vague or about impersonal issues; (2) it is designed and delivered in a way to boost their public persona instead of acknowledging an actual, deeply-rooted weakness; or (3) they accompany the confession with a justification to mitigate the possible negative reaction from the congregation.

This notion that we (especially church leaders) must put on an appearance of holiness is no different than trying to win the approval of men, which Paul condemns in Galatians 1:10. Paul describes himself as being the worst of all sinners (1 Timothy 1:15) and the apostles as "the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world" (1 Corinthians 4:13). They cared nothing of their public image — only that Christ was preached (1 Corinthians 1:21; Philippians 1:15-18). These are the people who were the founding pillars of the church! How far we have come for our church leaders today to reject the heart of these men in exchange for the worship of created things: mere mortals and their approval (Romans 1:25).

Image Credit: Oklahoma Christian University; "Bible_coffee_217_EDIT"; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life  | Personal-Relationships  | Sin-Evil

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Published on 5-2-16