The Art of Confession

John D. Barry

Confession is a lost art. Most Christian communities today have little outlet for doing so, and the systems for confessing that we do have are often tainted by a lack of honesty and trust.

This isn’t helped by the fact that none of us like to admit wrong. Yet God calls us to confession. In revealing sin in our lives, we have an opportunity to change (Jas 5:16). When a sin is revealed, the strength of temptation wanes.

This is not to suggest that we should openly confess our sins to all people, for unsafe and abusive people certainly exist. Rather, in close friendship with other Christians, we should be honest about our failures. Most importantly, we must confess these things to God.

We need to overcome the fatal assumption that because we are saved by Christ’s dying and rising for our sins, we no longer need to confess them. In admitting our sins to God, we move toward overcoming them and into an honest relationship with Him. God already knows who we are and what we’ve done, so there is no reason to fear being honest with Him. And perhaps in learning to be honest with Him we can also learn to be honest with others.
For many of us, the difficulty of praying about our sins is what prevents us from telling God what we need and what we’ve done. God has an answer to this, though: the psalms.

For example, in Psa 51, the psalmist says, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and from my sin cleanse me. For I, myself, know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me” (Psa 51:2–3). He goes on to say, “Create a clean heart for me, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and with a willing spirit sustain me” (Psa 51:10–12).

When we confess our sins to God and to others, He is faithful to help us overcome temptations. We have been given the great gift of Christ Jesus, who purifies us from all our wrongs against Him and others. And so we must seek His presence and live in it; in doing so, we can overcome the power of sin. In light of God’s power, sin is nothing; it deserves no stronghold.

Are you currently confessing your sins to God and others? How can you create a safe system to confess your sins in a way that honors God?

This article was originally published in Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan.