Isn’t it interesting how all of us (me included) love to hear someone else share their secrets and struggles? It’s as if our inner Sherlock Holmes finally gets to say, “Aha! I knew you were guilty of something!”
I admit that I am much quicker at identifying the faults and weaknesses of others than confessing my own sin and failures. Therefore, this week I want to shed light on my own struggles with the hope of encouraging anyone out there who might “have a friend” like me.
As I have been studying the Word and what it has to say about confession, I discovered something spectacular! Confession is a two sided coin and both sides yield untold rewards in our relationship with Jesus and others. This ancient discipline is a glorious gateway of grace and can result in exponential growth in our relationship with God and others.
Side one of the confession coin:
Both the Old and New Testaments teach us that confession is an agreement, an acknowledgment of sin and wrong doing before God and others. The prayers of Old Testament prophets are laden with confession of personal, corporate and generational sins and pleas for God’s mercy and forgiveness.
“let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned.”
“I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.”
The New Testament apostles instruct us to confess our sins to God and others that we may experience forgiveness and restored relationships.
“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
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
It has always, let me say it again, it has ALWAYS been our pride that has kept us from confession! Even when confronted with their sin in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), Adam and Eve would not confess their own sin but were quick to blame it on one another and the serpent.
It takes supernatural prompting and humility for us to genuinely admit our wrongdoing before God and others. The enemy of our souls and our own pride convince us that “it’s not that big of a deal,” “it’s embarrassing,” or “others will think less of me”. And the list goes on and on (these excuses have all come out of my own heart).
However when we stop and realize that Jesus Christ came to the earth to save sinners (and we are all sinners), confession enables us to receive His help! 1 Timothy 1:15 It frees us to come to Him and obtain mercy. He knows we are weak and He knows our sin and confession becomes the gateway to fellowship with Jesus. The Bible says that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. James 4:6 Also, confession enables us to share true and authentic relationships with others. We all know we are flawed down deep and when we spend time with others who can readily admit their struggles and sins, it helps us feel comfortable sharing our failures as well. Ministry is lost or won on the battlefield of authentic living and humble confession.
Side two of the confession coin:
When we humble ourselves and acknowledge our sin and flaws to ourselves, to God and to others, we are admitting we are not the master, boss or lord of our lives. We are confessing we are not perfect! But, as we confess our sins and experience the forgiveness and mercy of Jesus, He draws us near to Him and we enjoy intimacy with Him. Jesus shines like a diamond in our cave of depravity and then something glorious happens….we begin to confess that He is everything He says He is. He is Lord God Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, King of the universe and worthy of all our praise and adoration. We desire to praise Him and to proclaim His greatness to others and that produces joy and further growth in our relationship to Him.
“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”
“Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:
He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.”
1 Timothy 3:16
The treasury that opens to those who are willing to discipline themselves in the area of confession is beautiful and will equip us with the ability to enjoy eternity better. There is coming a day, sweet friend, when Jesus will return to this earth and guess what every living thing will do? Yes, you guessed it…
“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11
I want to encourage you with one other discovery I found while studying this subject. If you either have not grown up in church or you have spent time in more conservative worship environments, you may have wondered why people sing to Jesus with their hands raised. Well, the original language of the Bible gives us great insight into this expression of worship.
The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew and this beautiful language gives us such vivid images of words that often are not fully conveyed in our English versions.
The word for confess in Hebrew is yadah and literally means “to use (hold out) the hand; especially to revere or worship (with extended hands). Did you catch that? We raise our hands to acknowledge the truth that God is glorious and we (as sinners) are all in desperate need of His love and forgiveness.
The New Testament word for confess is examologeo and means to proclaim, acknowledge, thank and give praise to.
I pray that this week, we are quick to acknowledge and confess our sins and God’s great mercy in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Consider it training for eternity