Confession is Good for the Soul – Life Journey no. 3

God Rejects Punishes Forgives You

6.03 audio on confession.

The Need for Confession

Friend, wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could lay down the past and enter your future free of the burdens you carry, those issues weighing you down and inhibiting your progress? Yep. Confession doesn’t get much press, but it should. Confession is like a miracle cure when offered from the depths of the heart. Confess your stuff to God. He will receive your confession and then dispose of it–and not hold your wrongs and foolishness against you. You become free of it.

We should want to live godly, holy, spiritual lives. When God nudges us, it is best to respond rather than ignore it. It is a form of letting go of what needs letting go of. A true confession is as effective as it is honest. That goes for the one confessing, their ability to confess out of the mouth what is in their heart, like coming clean in order to improve or gain perspective (and much more). We can’t become whole without it.

God welcomes a humble confession, whether in private, in prayer, or with another spiritual person present. We want to improve our spiritual life, as in true confession we will do. Going through the motions–by saying the words without a willingness to change behavior–is lacking in true repentance. This accomplishes nothing–is meaningless–and projects a false sense of doing what is right and good.

Time set aside for self-examination and confession may be a private matter and it may be part of your faith community’s practice. A wise person who has spiritual depth of insight will pay attention to their confession while focused on the heart issue. Feeling bad about something does not make for a true confession. Saying the words, I did such and such and it was wrong, can be a form of ‘getting by’ without having a correct attitude toward the sinful act.

Confession of sin to God is an acknowledgment of guilt. The Holy Spirit enables us to understand our error, our rebellion, to see and acknowledge how it offends the holiness of God. The more we desire to please God and to love Him with a pure heart, the more we will become sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s grieving over our wrong thoughts, behaviors, failures, and selfishness, and the more we will feel remorse or sorrow and want to turn from doing them. Love for God is the best reason to make confession a necessity and spiritual practice.

It is curious to me how little Christians practice confessing their sins one to another. Scripture says to confess one to another. This is reinforced during holy communion as a stipulation for maintaining purity through spiritual cleansing within the assembly. Have you ever experienced an inability to participate in the bread and cup because of an issue between you and a Christian brother or sister? I have, a few times over the years.  It can make you cry and feel terribly isolated in the community of believers. Scripture is clear that we are to take these things seriously.

It is a difficult thing to do, to humble ourselves, to go to the person who offended us. We are prideful people even in the church. It takes humbling to see this correctly and then approach your brother or sister in humility.

Confession is acknowledging what we did and why it was damaging, and how it is offensive to God. Not only does confession show a right attitude, it helps us have a right opinion about the matter.

In picture form, confession to God and others is like a circular movement spiraling upward as we grow stronger in faith and fuller in love like an on-going progression of growing Christ-like. God shows us; we respond by confessing and then turning from repeating the offense/thing. The closer our relationship to God, the easier it becomes (to see who we are behind the mask) and to live a righteous, holy life.

Here is a simple progression that can be incorporated every so often in your quite time. Always follow God’s leading and not ignore what He doesn’t ignore.

Personal time of confession:

  1. Get alone with God.
  2. Pray for spiritual insights and sensitivity to the Spirit.
  3. Read a passage in the Scriptures.
  4. Confess your faults to God.
  5. Ask God to reveal any hidden areas of sin, rebellion, or wrong actions.
  6. Ask for His forgiveness.
  7. Imagine your sins tossed into a river and swept away. Forgiven.
  8. Is there anyone you have offended and need to confess to make it right.
  9. Listen as God impresses a sense of ‘knowing,’ often using familiar scriptures.
  10. Thank God for being with you and helping you see His truth.

If your spiritual journey is stagnating, stale, or dry, I encourage you to see if there is blockage in your relationship with God. Oftentimes we make choices to self-serve or we act independent of God’s divine will and leading. I have found that I must ask Him to reveal to me where I self-protected, have gone out ahead of God, or made a wrong choice that has caused stoppage in my spiritual life. Then listen.

One time after doing this, I wrote letters to three people I had offended. Another time I went to the person and confessed my wrong behavior. Other times it has been a wrong choice (made with the best of intentions). You know the drill… Whatever it is, God shows us, and then we have it to do. We become responsible to confess or act on the knowledge He gives us. I believe it is a sign of strength in our spiritual walk when we are willing to humble ourselves before others and God.

Confession to God–the receiving of forgiveness–

But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”   -1 John 1:9 NLT

Confession one to another–

“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 5:16 NIV

A clean heart and a right attitude–

“The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.”   –Psalm 51:17 NLT

Confession for purity and right relationships within the church–

 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you,  leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”    –Matthew 5:23, 24 NIV

I said confession is like a miracle cure. You see, what confession does is it frees us to be all we should be and were made to be. No longer are we stuck in a rut, spinning our wheels going no-where fast. All of us are wrong-minded at times. All of us make mistakes. And all of us do wrong and act on impulse. But that is not who we are anymore as children of God who have placed faith in Jesus Christ. We are new creatures in Christ. The deal is, we must notice when we act willfully and incorrectly, take ownership, and then take care of it.  Our spiritual health depends on our ability to be fully honest with God and then do what He directs us to do. Here’s the secret, open up to God and then He will become your all in all.

I wish you well on your spiritual journey. May God bless you and keep you and may you know His peace.

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N. L. Brumbaugh likes to write contemplative thoughts about authentic spiritual living. A lot of heart goes into every one of her posts. She is a mix of reading specialist, country woman, writer, church leader, and storyteller. Norma loves creative artistry and celebrating life.