Last Sunday I confessed before our church one of my personal sins. Verbal confession brings a certain kind of freedom and healing that is found in no other practice.
This month my columns are about spiritual disciplines. Every Christian should pursue the spiritual discipline of confession because of confession’s healing properties.
Right up front, we need to understand what confession will do for us. First, confession provides forgiveness and cleansing. The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. When we are honest with God we can trust Him to begin removing the thoughts, words, and actions that have been holding us back from reaching our full potential.
The healing properties of confession include opening our eyes to hidden sins and cleansing our consciences from past mistakes.
The second healing property of confession has to do with our physical health. Some physical sickness is caused by sin. James, the brother of Jesus, explains that our physical healing is sometimes linked to our verbal confession: “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” James 5:16. After we humble ourselves and confess our sins, our prayers become more powerful, too. “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16.
Third, confession sets us free from habitual sins. Someone once said, “Sin will always take you farther that you wanted to go, keep you longer than you wanted to stay, and cost you more than you intended to pay.” But confession breaks that chain of events and releases us back to fulfilling our God-given purpose. “You can’t whitewash your sins and get by with it; you find mercy by admitting and leaving them.” Proverbs 28:13.
Finally, the steps to practice confession are simple to understand, but difficult to put into practice. Sin, pride, and spiritual warfare regularly keep us from practicing obedience in confession. Step one: Go to God in prayer and confess to God your sin. Stop what you are doing and pray to God your confession. Try praying, privately, out loud. You can use these words if you like: “God, I know I wasn’t supposed to _________. I don’t want to do ________, again. Please forgive me and help me to obey your ways instead of my own.”
Step one is vertical, between you and God. Step two is horizontal: After you confess to God go and verbally confess your sin to a trusted Christian friend. Your friend may offer you advice on how to make things right, but your friend will also be able to remind you of the forgiveness that God offers you through faith in Jesus Christ.
You can experience the healing properties of confession when you begin pursuing this spiritual discipline. Start practicing today as soon as you finish reading this column.
If you would like to hear my confession from Sunday you can listen at www.wcconline.org just click the dropdown resources tab followed by the link to sermon series. If you have any comments or questions about spiritual disciplines please email: [email protected]
Dale McCamish is Senior Minister of Wilmington Church of Christ.