The Power of Confession

What do you think of when someone brings up the word confession? Do you begin to feel convicted? Do you start to experience shame or guilt for anything? Do you feel like hiding or running away? Or perhaps the mention of confession brings you joy. Joy? Yes, joy. Confession is not something that we should shy away from, it is something that we should run towards, and I believe that it is our duty as Christians to create an atmosphere in our church body that welcomes, facilitates, and makes habit of confession. So, let’s talk about it.

What is confession?

Confession is the acknowledgement and admittance of sin. Confession is the practice of making oneself transparent and vulnerable. Thus, it is also the active practice of humility. However, humility is not something that comes natural to us, therefore confession is also a skill, and it requires practice.

I acknowledged my sin to you,
    and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
    and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. 

Psalm 32:5

Why should I make a confession?

Since confession is the active practice of humility, confession can also be referred to as the anecdote for pride. It is the remedy to a sickness that we’re all afflicted with – pride. We open our hearts to pride when we refuse to confess our sins. Thus, we must confess so that pride cannot abound, and we must pray to the Lord to soften our hearts. Confession is so powerful because when we confess, we admit our flaws, we acknowledge that we are not perfect, and we expose even more so our dire need for Christ.

There is no greater stronghold than the one that proposes that we are not so bad after all. It is the stronghold of self-righteousness and self-sufficiency, and each stone in that stronghold is being held together by pride. Confession is the outpouring of humility, and by it we destroy the stronghold of self-righteousness. By admitting our abundant weaknesses and imperfections, we render pride incapable of strengthening our ego or our performer.  

Therefore, confess your sins to one another
and pray for one another,
that you may be healed.

James 5:16

How do I confess? I want to, but I just can’t!

It is of great significance to mention that so many of us are not even able to confess a sin to ourselves. This usually arises from one of two reasons: either we are unaware of the sin due to our ignorance of God’s word, or we have learned to rationalize the sin over time. For these two reasons it is important to both submerge ourselves in God’s word and make practice of prayer. Submerge yourself in God’s word so that you may know His will for you, and pray that the Lord will search your heart and expose your iniquities.

Despite how much we desire to confess of our sins, at times it can seem impossible. Our mouth simply will not open! This is one reason (of many) that I am an advocate of the discipline of journaling. Journaling provides us the privilege of first writing out our confession, if we’re not yet ready to share. By writing it down on paper, we are able to lay our sin down in front of our eyes and begin to expose and analyze it. Since confession doesn’t come naturally, but is instead a skill that must be learned, pray to the Lord that He would grant you the courage and conviction to share your confession with someone. If you are unwilling to expose your transgressions on paper, how can you ever expect to expose them verbally or socially?

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!

Psalm 139:23-4

The Power of Confession

When I say that there is power in confession, I am actually alluding to the power of humility, since confession is the active practice of humility. We must therefore confess so that we can unleash this power. Humility is the power that strengthened Christ to endure and resist the 40-day temptation with Satan himself. Humility is the power that enabled Christ, “who though was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped” (Phil. 2:6). Humility is the power that allowed Christ to become “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8). Humility is the power that led Christ to be crucified by mere mortals, even while holding the authority to at once call upon 12 legions of angels. Unleash the power of humility through confession, and through it, you will find freedom.

Sin opens the door to more sin, whereas confession and repentance close the door to sin. He who refuses to confess becomes a slave to sin. Therefore, confess your sin so that you may experience the inexplicable freedom that follows. When we attempt to resolve our sin issue alone, we are discounting the readily available power of humility (and fellowship). Make the active decision to confess. Choose humility, admit that you are imperfect, die to yourself, and accept Christ as your Savior and allow him to liberate you. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves,
and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins,
he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar,
and his is word is not in us.

1 John 1:8-10

Some additional thoughts

Jesus loves it when we confess. In fact, He rejoices! That being said, a confession should never be followed by condemnation, but always commendation. Confession is something that is to be rejoiced over! We ought to rejoice in the freedom that follows.

Ultimately, only a contrite heart will find power in confession. Also, confession ought to lead to repentance. A confession that is not followed by repentance is fruitless. It is important to stay accountable after a confession, so that we can truly repent. Repentance stems from the Greek metanoia, meaning “changing one’s mind.” It implies an active decision to turn away, and to face and walk in a new direction.

A true confession leads to true accountability, true accountability leads to true repentance, and true repentance leads to freedom.

It is of more than passing significance to note the numerous other times that confession is mentioned in God’s word (Ezra 10:1; Neh. 1:6; 9:2-3; Dan. 9:4, 20).

Confession keeps us vulnerable.
Confession keeps us walking in the light.
Confession keeps our walk with the Lord genuine.