There is no question that God wants us to be righteous, obedient to his word, embracing Jesus Christ’s moral code. There is also no question that we are unsuccessful in being the disciples we ought to be, and this displeases God. But he knows that sinfulness is our nature, and he is willing to forgive.
God wants us to be aware of our sins and he wants us to confess them rather than conceal them. James 5:16. “Therefore let us confess our sins to one another.”
I John 1:8-10. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word id not in us.”
Confessing sins is counterintuitive, so let’s ask a couple of question about this.
Why does God want believers to confess their sins? First off, confession of sin is an act of humility, which is one of the greatest of Christian virtues. In fact, humility might be at the root of all Christian virtue.
Secondly, confession is an act of empowerment. It takes a great deal of intellectual and emotional energy to conceal our sins. A cover-up drains you. As Richard Nixon about Watergate. Ask Ronald Reagan about Iran-Contra. Ask Bill Clinton about Monica Lewinski.
A great example of confession comes from Jim Joyce, a major league umpire. Joyce was umping first base when pitcher Armando Galaraga was about to get the last out of a no-hitter. The batter hit a ground ball. The infielder threw the ball to first base in plenty of time to record the out. But Joyce blew the call and called the runner safe. Replays showed he was obviously in error. Joyce had two choices. He could dig in his heels and stand by his call as most umpires do. Or he could admit his mistake and apologize. He chose the latter, tearfully apologizing in public to Galaraga after the game.
This brings us to the third reason why God wants us to confess our sins. Confession allows us to be forgiven and feel forgiven. The next day Joyce was schedules to be behind the plate calling balls and strikes. The Tigers chose Galaraga to deliver the line-up card to the home plate umpire. No one k new what was going to happen when the two men met. What happened was they embraced. Galaraga had forgiven Joyce, and Joyce was able to feel forgiven.
The second question is this. How does God want us to confess our sins? First, we have to understand that there are two way of looking at sin. The first is sin in general, our sinful nature. All the sins we’ve ever committed and all the sins we ever will commit, sins of commission and sins of omission. More sins than we can ever imagine. These are all the sins that were forgiven when we confessed out sinful nature and God forgave them, justifying us in his eyes. The second kind of sins are those we are aware of and can be enumerated. The sins we commit every day and we know what they are.
We are to confess both kinds of sin. Confessing the first kind, the general sin, is the easiest. “Lord, forgive me for I am a sinner. Amen.” You can confess all your sins in one mass lump without having to think about them. Specific sins are more personal and painful to confess. We feel a greater responsibility for them.
To whom are we to confess our sins? Well, to God, of course. But also to each other. We need to confess our sins to the people we have wronged. And we are to confess our sins to others so that we cannot be accused of concealing them and so that we can be held accountable.
We are reluctant to confess our sons for two reasons. First, we have a high opinion of our own righteousness. We have huge egos. Secondly, we have learned that to confess sins is to open ourselves up to condemnation and ridicule. For confession to be effective it requires an honest confession and a willing and non-judgmental listener. Openly confessing sin is a heroic act. Equally heroic is setting aside judgement when listening to a confession.
Our first confession took place when we first repented and asked Jesus into our hearts. But it must not stop there. We ought to continually confess our sins in our daily walk with God. We should not be like the husband who said, “I told my wife on the day we were married that I loved her. I see no reason to say it again.”
God wants to hear our confessions. We ought to be in the habit.