Confession is hard on all of us. From youth, our sin nature pushes us to hide from our wrongdoing, deny, pass blame, or only take partial responsibility. In fact, the scene from the garden after Eve and Adam ate from the forbidden tree shows each of those.
I was sitting in service this past weekend listening to Pastor Monty preach on "finishing our race well" from 2 Timothy. As he outlined the recent string of sudden resignations from high places within the Southern Baptist Convention due to "moral failure," my heart breaks for their witness, their families, their ministry, and their legacy of faithful service. Yet underneath that sadness, I find myself maddened by the few cases where there is still no outright confession of wrongdoing. The pain of their sins continues to tear at the victims and create division, confusion, and anger.
All for what reason? The preservation of one's work, pride, position, merit, or reputation?
Here are some questions I have for us to reflect on...
Why do we put forth feeble attempts to hide our sins and transgressions?
The Father (through His Word) makes it so abundantly clear to us that he searches us and knows our hearts and minds. (Psalm 139:1, 23-24, Romans 8:27, Jeremiah 17:10, Revelation 2:23, 1 Samuel 16:7)
Why do we feel like we can get away with it?
We know that God disciplines those He loves. He disciplines us for our good so we can share in His holiness (Hebrews 12:10). Not only that, we feel the burden of unrepentance on our lives, as David describes in Psalm 32: 3-4 "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer."
This arrogance...this sin manifested in our hubris...builds us into mountains set on fault lines that will one day crumble and destroy whole cities that sit in our shadow. Our marriages, children's lives, careers, health, and financial stability all become buried in the excrement of our pathetic efforts to live two lives OR in failing to yield when the Spirit demands "STOP! YOU DON'T DO THIS ANYMORE. YOU WERE BOUGHT AT A PRICE. YOU ARE PRECIOUS TO HIM." Yes, your salvation is secure in Christ, but watch as the valleys that once surrounded your prideful peaks become full of dry bones. Bones that carry with them the stench of death.
There are two verses on confession that I want to focus on this month. In doing so, I'm hoping you'll see how a word which produces such angst and feelings of shame and degradation is actually meant to be necessary, helpful, cleansing, and freeing.
“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” that is, the word of faith that we proclaim; because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Romans 10:8-10
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
Admit it. Unless you've spent years studying the biblical principle of confession, when you first read these pieces of scripture, in your mind you interpreted the word with two distinct meanings; each carrying with it a different emotional response. For the first you think of the idea of "profession" and it carries with it a positive emotional mindset: security in Christ by faith and the start of a relationship with the God of the universe who called you unto Himself. In the latter verse, it resonates with a tone of "admittance of guilt" and bears with it the aforementioned shame and embarrassment.
The problem is, the Greek word is the same in these verses: homologeō. Or, as it's used elsewhere, homologia, (confession). And more often than not, in the New Testament it is used more in the form of a "profession." But, if you stop and think about it, when it's done rightly, the meaning is the same.
When I confess Christ as my savior, I'm professing what is true: “I am not God. I am not in control. I cannot do enough to save myself. I need Him for reconciliation to a Holy Father who loves me and only in Christ can I find my redemption.”
When I confess to my brother about my wrongdoing, I'm also professing what is true: “my sins and its present grip on me.” But, at the same time, I'm professing Christ again and that through His blood I am forgiven. By His perfect life and my belief in Him (His life, death, and resurrection), I am appointed His righteousness. (Oh, though I am so undeserving!) I am professing my deep need to be restored by God and held accountable by a trusted brother where we both desire the obedient submission to discipline and sanctification...treasuring the command to "Be Holy because I, the Lord, am Holy" for my good and His glory. I need His forgiveness!
Brothers, confess to Christ, and find a trusted brother with whom you can be real. Turn your mind to the freedom and cleansing that comes from true confession and see God work mightily to heal you and forgive you of your sins. Finally, know that God understands...
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16