What Everyone Should Know about Confession

by Debbie Wilson

Thomas Dewar quipped, “An honest confession is good for the soul but bad for the reputation.” Well, here is my honest confession: I have avoided confession.

Sometimes, I use Ken Boa’s Handbook to Prayer to guide my morning prayers. It divides daily prayers into sections of adoration, confession, renewal, petition, thanksgiving, and more. The confession section begins with a Scripture and asks you to invite the Holy Spirit to search your heart and reveal any areas of unconfessed sins. I was surprised at what God revealed.

I realized I often speed through this part hoping God won’t point out anything. You know I’m doing the best I can. I don’t have time to address anything new.

I’d slipped into viewing the Holy Spirit as a grumpy school principal who wanted to find fault with an imperfect student. I knew better. Yet there it was. I was avoiding the Spirit’s searchlight.

So, here is a reminder of the wonder of confession.

“Confess” comes the Greek word homologeo, which means “to say the same thing as another.” When we confess to God we say the same thing He says. We agree with God and align our wills with His values and perspective.

The Psalmist prayed: “Search me, O God, and know my heart;  Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139:23-24, NASB).

The Psalmist wanted to know if and where he had veered onto the path of pain. Sin always brings pain. “But he who sins against me injures himself” (Proverbs 8:36, NASB). Besides hurting me, it also grieves the Holy Spirit and hurts other people. Asking the Holy Spirit to reveal sin is asking Him to deliver us from the path of pain.

Sin is missing the mark. It is falling short of God’s glory. When I fail to love others or myself as God does—I’ve missed the mark. When I’m not thankful because I don’t see my circumstances from His perspective, I’ve fallen short.

But, when I agree with the Holy Spirit on the truth He reveals, He cleanses me from pain-causing sin (1 John 1:9). To confess our sins is to agree with what God says about our sins. He says:

• Sin falls short of His glory, grieves Him, and injures us (Ephesians 4:30).

• Jesus paid for all of our sins on the cross (Hebrews 10:10).

Confession is not a time of condemnation (Romans 8:1). It is:

• A time to express our regret to God and affirm His cleansing
• A fresh start
• The removal of a painful splinter so we can dance again

Understanding biblical confession makes me welcome the Spirit’s searchlight. Confession is not only good for the soul, but it is also God’s miraculous provision to keep me close to Him.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, was released in February 2020.

Little Faith, Big God: Grace to Grow When Your Faith Feels Small by [Wilson, Debbie]

Debbie and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: How will what you have just learned impact your prayer times with God?

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