In 1997 I told a lie. During this period of my life, I was going through some stuff! My personal life was a hot mess, my career was taking off, and I was in a love/hate relationship with my newfound faith and commitment to Jesus. Love because I had found new life in Christ. Hate because new life was hard and required something of me!
A bunch of my coworkers had gathered around, and I was telling them a wild story about my weekend. Half of it true. Half of it made up. I kept the room entertained. We had a good laugh, and I went back to my office.
As I sat down, the Holy Spirit spoke to me, “Go tell them the truth.” Obviously, this was my own crazy thought and not something God wanted from me. So, I prayed, “I’m sorry. I won’t do that anymore. Amen.” But this inner thought came again, “Go tell them the truth.”
I walked out of my office and waited for the right moment and said, “Hey guys, when I was telling that story, this part, this part, and this part was true.” The room was quiet as they looked at me. Continuing on I said, “This part, this part, and this part was a lie.” One of my co-workers responded with some nervous laughter. The whole room was uncomfortable.
“I’m sorry. God is changing my life. I wanted to tell you the truth.”
I slinked away in embarrassed silence. Everyone went back to their work and I could hear some hushed talking from the lobby area. In a matter of twenty minutes, I went from the life of the party and the most fun in the room to a religious fanatic who was a little weird. Oddly enough, I think my friends would have preferred I kept my confession to myself. The lie was way more comfortable for everyone involved.
A few days later at lunch with some of my new friends from church, I blurted out, “I lied at work. Then I thought God wanted me to confess my lie. So, I did. Everyone felt awkward.” After a couple of moments of stunned silence, one of my new Christian friends said, “That’s amazing!” We went on to talk about why I lied, and they helped me form a plan to change. In confessing to my friends who followed Jesus, I suddenly had something I never had. I had help. Help to change something that at one time did not seem like a big deal. But I learned, it was a big deal. It was a character flaw that was poison to my soul. Confession was the catalyst for transforming my life.
When we think of confession, images of our favorite crime show may come to mind. We picture detectives on television interrogating someone until they admit to their crimes. But for those who follow Jesus, confession should be a daily rhythm because you are His disciple. The very nature of our relationship with Jesus begins with the confession of our personal sin and a desire to change.
Beautiful things happen when we humble ourselves before God and others to participate in confession. God gives us this tool not to shame us, but to free us, make us whole, and to better reflect the image of Christ in our lives. When we practice confession, we will benefit in many ways.
Confession sensitizes us to what is Holy.
Psalm 19:9-11 tells us, “Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever. The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair. They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb. They are a warning to your servant, a great reward for those who obey them.”
The psalmist goes on to ask in verse 12, “How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults.“
Essentially, the psalmist is wanting to know what is offensive to God in order that he may confess his sin. A regular practice of confession brings wisdom to our hearts as God reveals to us what sin needs to be dealt with in our life to better reflect Jesus.
Confession brings healing in our lives when done in a healthy setting.
Psalm 32:3 tells us of the perils of unconfessed sin. “When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.”
Our bodies manifest poor physical and mental health when we cling to our sins. Hiding unhealthy behavior makes us physically, emotionally, and mentally sick. The best setting for confession is in a disciple-making relationship. Confessing before God and a trusted follower of Jesus helps to bring healing. Unconfessed sin keeps us stuck, self-focused, and ineffective in our prayer life.
James 5:16 encourages, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
Confession is the conduit for transformation.
Releasing our sins to God allows us to experience freedom through grace. When we admit we have sinned, God begins to work to bring us the solution that will bring change. The secret that once held us captive is now brought into the light where God lovingly tends to our heart.
Secret sins keep us isolated. Sins confessed in safe places lose their power over us. When I confessed, I had a group of supporters who were willing to ask me how I was going to change. Confession is not a solo act but a communal one with other believers. Confession without discipleship is just oversharing!
Two easy, and practical steps we can take to implement the discipline of confession:
- Daily Prayer
Spend a little of your prayer time asking God to show you where He wants to work in your life. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal sin that needs to be confessed. Spend time in silence and allow God to speak to your heart.
Be in a transparent relationship with another follower of Jesus. Commit to growing in loving obedience to Jesus together.
Full disclosure: 1997 was not the last time I lied, or even sinned for that matter. But the regular practice of confession has certainly changed me. The person I am today is vastly different than the person I was at the beginning of my walk with Jesus. Today, I am a truthful person who takes very seriously the way I model Jesus to others.
Confession is not a one-time thing when we first surrender to Christ. It is a daily practice that humbles us, heals us, and makes us better reflections of Christ to those around us.
Confessors go from thievery to generosity, from liar to truth-teller, from hellion to holy.
It is a practice that will transform our lives and set us free. God has given us this beautiful method to unburden ourselves and experience freedom from sin and the power to be made new in Christ.
Author, Christy Gibas
Crossroads Church, Pastor of Adult Life