Rue the Day
Confession - A word that often sits uncomfortably with us. It springs to the mind and to the heart negative feelings of sin, regret, guilt, condemnation, judgment etc. So much so, that we don’t want to have to deal with it.
It’s because we are aware of the wrongdoing(s) we have committed and know that after turning away and repenting from them we will still have to face up to them somehow. When we do something wrong against our friends or family we know we must confess somehow to make the problem right, but the unknown consequences make us feel scared and uneasy. If you were to get yourself in even more trouble, for example, with school or even the law, for whatever reason, through your confession you would essentially be waiting for an outcome of consequence. A punishment of some sort, in addition to the guilt and the regret, would inevitably come about.
To truly confess and show full acknowledgement of our wrongdoings is not an easy thing to do. Asking for forgiveness can be a real struggle. But as Christians, is that the way we should really be looking at it?
Lou Holtz the famous American Football coach said this:
‘Sacrifice, discipline and prayer are essential. We gain strength through God's word. We receive grace from the sacrament. And when we fumble due to sin - and it's gonna happen - confession puts us back on the field’
In many cases with other people there are unknowns when it comes to confessing, but God, by His revelation through scripture and the incarnation, imparts truths to us making this very different between God and ourselves. The ultimate sacrament of forgiveness that we partake in, as Christians is our Baptism. This is a key moment in our lives when we accept we are in need of Christ to forgive us, and to make us clean. We die to ourselves and we are raised up in new life. Christ has done it for us eternally; surely we don’t need to worry about sin ever again?
In 1 John 1:8 it says ‘If we say we do not sin then we deceive ourselves’. As we continue the Christian life we find that we keep tripping up and that is why confession is so important; so that we don’t allow our wrongdoings to get in the way of our spiritual growth and our relationship with God.
There are three key ways in which confession can take place:
- As a Church we come before God and confess our sins. This is prominent in many churches in saying liturgy together.
- We come before God on our own in prayer. Having been convicted we can turn our eyes to Christ and ask for forgiveness and know that it has been granted.
- We can come before close friends, mentors and those of which we are accountable to confess our shortcomings (James 5:16). We may also wish to confess to our pastor or priest and allow their authority to confirm our forgiveness.
These forms of confession are not here so that we are caught out; rather it reminds us of whom God is and what God has done for us. As a Church we know that we are not a perfect body. When we come before our Lord we remember that Christ is our High Priest and it is through Him and only Him that we are joined together with God. The joy of our corporate worship is that we can come as a Church before God able to say sorry and to know our forgiveness. Day to day we make mistakes, and we need to come before God after having repented to receive the fullness of life that God has granted us through our baptism. And finally we have our brothers and sisters to help us. If we keep look out for each other and are gracious we are far more likely to grow together into the likeness of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, through Christ’s death and resurrection.
In 1 John 1:9 a clear promise has been said:
‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness’
1 John 1:9
In light of this we remember our baptism. We know we can approach God with confidence (Hebrews 4:16) and receive forgiveness in its fullness. Through confession we can strive to run the race to be ambitious for Christ and to grow in likeness of him. As Lou Holtz says ‘it gets us back on the field’.
So take it seriously and remember that there is no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus. Be honest with yourself, with others and with God. Let him cleanse you and robe you with righteousness so you may for fill the work he has called you to.