Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Exhilaration of Confession

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.  James 5:16

I've taught about confession a lot, and I’ll try to post more lessons here about it soon.  Our ability to “confess our sins to one another” is one of the great gifts God has given us, but it’s also one of the most frightening. 

Confession is how we can lighten our load, and allow our brothers and sisters an opportunity to help us bear our burdens.  It is – always – a prerequisite to God’s forgiveness.  When we confess, we no longer have to live in fear that we will be exposed.  This is the idea behind “walking in the light” as found in several scriptures. 
This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light, for their deeds were evil.  For everyone who does evil hates the light, and doesn’t come to the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” John 3.19-21

Walking in the light (living a life that is constantly confessing) is what some call being “transparent.”  It’s a beautiful amazing thing, because then we have no temptation to lie or cover up, we have no burdens to bear, we get to be clean and free from guilt, and we are no longer subject to the devil’s blackmail that coerces us to get worse and worse.  (Isn’t much of politics these days just a challenge to expose the other guy’s secrets?)  

But confessing (or walking in the light) also has a ‘dark’ side, because when we walk in the light, our deeds are exposed.  Now they see that we have some pretty disgusting things in our lives.  If we confess to some of these things, people may stay away from us, they may not like us, will not trust us, and will likely not listen to us.  Even among the best disciples, there will be an almost overwhelming desire to gossip about our issues.  And when we have a quarrel, they may bring up our sins and slap us in the face with them.  And so … most people rarely confess their dark stuff.

This frightening side of confession is what keeps us from doing it, even though the rewards are so gigantic.  This is a time when our faith gets tested – do we trust God enough to confess to one another as He commands, or will we allow our fears to blind us and quench our faith? 

This is why I call it “exhilarating.”  Confession is like the spiritual equivalent of an extreme sport.  It’s like skydiving or big wave surfing.  There’s a very great reward waiting for us if we succeed, but it comes with a huge risk. 

But there’s a difference: God has promised our success!  I cannot expect to survive if I tried to surf a giant wave, but God can be trusted 100% of the time! 

I have, very recently experienced this thrill.  I always try to walk in the light, but there are some things I tell myself I can just “fix,” and then I won’t have to confess them.  If we don’t confess our sins, we are hiding behind a lie, and in my case – that’s what was happening.  But fear of what someone may think, or how others may react – forces us to clam up.  I hereby testify that God is always faithful – ALWAYS.  He can be trusted all the way for everything.  And if He could not … then who would trust Him for eternity?  Might as well eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die (or as the world says, ‘carpe diem’). 

I’m high from a rush of confession.  I’m walking around in the light and free.  My burden is lighter … my steps are quicker … my zeal is given an outlet … and why?  Because God put my burdens on the back of Jesus, and He is faithful always to do so when I confess. 

Will you join me in the light?  It’s scary for sure … but man, is it awesome.  Come on, you chickens … no guts no glory - or rather: without faith it’s impossible to please God.
If we say that we have no sin, we’re deceiving ourselves and the truth isn’t in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we haven’t sinned, we make Him a liar and His word isn’t in us.  1 John 1.8-10

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