You’ve seen the spoof, right? On my right shoulder stands the diminutive angel in white, encouraging me to do the right thing. On my left shoulder sits the little red demon with his pitchfork and tail, taunting me to do evil. Choose and receive the consequences, it usually goes.
Choosing good means smooth sailing. Choosing evil brings a new companion.
His name is Guilt.
When one is burdened with guilt, its weight can be debilitating and feel as heavy as a ship’s anchor. After doing wrong, we often live our lives measuring the safety of silence against a longing to unburden ourselves of that guilt. To lift guilt, the one we have sinned against must come to know that we have revealed our error. Confession removes the hypocrisy, dissolves the façade, ends our isolation, and allows the one who can provide absolution the ability to do so.
This happens with our human relationships. It also happens with our spiritual relationship to God.
Consider that confession is one pathway of bringing our personal reality into perfect alignment with true reality, God’s reality. Confession is both our acknowledgement of error, but also that our choices were inferior to what God would want for us. God, who is pure holiness, desires us to recognize this difference (Proverbs 14:12). Consider these examples:
• The tax collector did not boast, but humbly recognized his true reality. Here’s what
Luke wrote about him – “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God.” (Luke 18:13-14)
• David chose to have Bathsheba at all costs. It was wrong. It was inferior to doing what is holy and right. David, burdened with guilt, later confessed, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.” (Psalm 51:1).
Though He requires us to confess, God doesn’t need our confession for the information. There is nothing we have that God needs. Read Acts 17:25. “Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.” And God knows what we’ve done wrong. Read Job 34:21- 22. “For His eyes are on the ways of man and He sees all his steps. There is no darkness nor shadow of death where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves.” Thus, God requires confession because we need it. It is good for us. James wrote in his epistle, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” – James 5:16.
Have you ever wondered why God insists that we confess our sins “one to another?” “…that you may be healed.” is the answer. Consider all of the ways we are healed when we confess and determine to turn from our sin – God has.