Andy Stanley explains in his book Enemies of the Heart, that confession is not merely a “requirement” to relieve guilt. Confession is the first step toward genuine repentance and freedom from such guilt. When dealing with sin many people think “confessing to God alone is enough. But Andy Stanley points out the importance of “public” confession.
Let’s examine some types of confession. One kind is the “little confession” that says, “I broke the lamp. I’m sorry”. We have all done it, that is easy. Another is the confession we do at the edge of our bed, discharging our hearts telling the Lord all the bad things we did during the day. That kind of confession appeases our consciousness temporarily. This alleged confession does not eliminate the fault. It’s an analgesic. It does nothing to heal the wound caused by sin or to break the chains.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1: 9
Stick with me and read on…
The dictionary definition of the verb to confess is to admit or recognize something. However, the Bible presents confession in association with change.
And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. Mark 1: 4-5 NIV
So, in times of John the Baptist, public confession preceeded baptism. The confession was not only a means of feeling better about their sin. It was a public step toward abandoning sin. Can you see how once the individual had confessed out loud, in public, he was not likely to continue doing that wrong thing? That is how confession breaks the power of the enemy! What was done in secret is now out in the light!
Again and again the Bible speaks of confession, not in terms of relief of conscience, but in terms of change of life. Confession is never a substitute for repentance. It is more like a first step in repentance.
And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5: 15-16
“Confess your sins to each other”. Real confession is making that call that terrifies us. Confession is arranging that meeting that we know will be incredibly uncomfortable, to write that letter we should have written long ago. It means humbling oneself to bring into the light his part in the problem and doing everything in his power to restore the relationship. When we swallow our pride and take that extra step, something amazing happens. Guilt loses its grip on the heart and grace breaks the power of sin in our life.
If we begin to confess our sins, not merely to relieve our conscience, but as a door to change, chances are that we will not make the same mistakes again. But as long as we just whisper to God in secret, trying to ease our guilt, we continue in a cycle of doingthebad, feelingguilty, askingforgiveness and then doingthebad, etc… see how that continues? But a real confession, bringing our sin out into true light, in God’s design, breaks the cycle of sin and guilt.
Isn’t that such a good beginning on the journey to freedom from habitual sin?