I’ve been wanting to write about the act of confession. I wanted to write about it because it’s an act that is uniformly necessary among all people, and particularly for believers in Jesus, it’s an incredible means of God’s grace. It’s something of great worth, yet is often so difficult to do. My hope is to show how exactly confession is a means of grace to us given by God. When I talk about confession throughout this article, here’s what I mean; confession is the act of coming before God and/or another person and admitting to doing something you shouldn’t have, or not doing something that you should have done. It’s admitting to wrong doing, lack of action, or even lack of belief. And what should always accompany confession is repentance; turning away from that wrongdoing and turning back towards God (and others) in your actions.
Confession is an act that can be uncomfortable, feared, difficult, or downright paralyzing. It’s no wonder that the thought of admitting a wrong that you’ve done is often the last thing we want to do. When we confess, we are putting out in the open something that we feel like hiding away for no one to see; bringing something to light that we may rather wish to keep in the dark. Confession tears down our pride and chips away at the good image that we try to build up.
So why in the world would we want to confess? Why embark on such a difficult act? I’m contending that it’s one of the primary ways that we can experience God’s grace given to us through Jesus.
A Renewed Experience of God’s Grace
Earlier this week, I experienced a time of disbelief and anger towards God. As most of us are doing this time of year, I was in the midst of filing my tax return. For the first time in years, instead of receiving a refund from the IRS, we were slammed with a huge amount that we owed. I was angry. Angry because we don’t have that money put away to pay the fee, angry because I’m not in a high paying job that would allow me to cover that expense, and angry at God for this burden that was now on my shoulders. What may have been worst of all, I was angry because I knew God would change my heart, and that I wouldn’t be able to hold on to the anger that I was attempting to use as my functional savior. I went for a walk to deal with my anger, and to deal with God. In that time, he brought me to a place where I had to confess the dark parts of my heart in those moments; I had to confess my lack of trust in his provision, my unrighteous anger towards him, my unjust accusations against a perfectly good God.
Pretty messed up, right? There was a lot to confess, a lot of darkness to expose. But here’s where grace enters in. Through confession, I was able to experience the truth of the gospel in a new way. God convicted and reminded me of his goodness, of his upright character, of the fact that he is a perfect Father who loves his children so well. He reminded me of all the ways that he has shown his faithfulness to provide. Most of all, he reminded me that I wasn’t condemned for having such unrighteous anger and distrust. Because Jesus has brought me into God’s family through his death and resurrection, all the goodness and love from God was available to me, right then and there. If I hadn’t confessed, I wouldn’t have tasted God’s goodness and grace to me in that moment. I would have missed out on the gospel actually being real, relevant, and powerful to change my dark heart.
Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord… – Acts 3:19-20
When we confess, we get a new experience of the gospel; that’s God’s grace for us. We’re literally stepping into an avenue that God has laid out for us to know him more. I can’t think of a better way to truly know the grace of God if it isn’t held up in stark contrast to what he has, and is, saving us from.
Imagining What’s Ahead
Our motivation for confession is all about what is waiting for us on the other side of it. We have to enter into a process of picturing what God is offering us when we confess. It’s imagining receiving forgiveness of sins, perfect righteousness credited to you, freedom from bearing the burden of your wrongdoing. It’s a new, real, and present experience of the gospel for you.
If you’ve ever raced in a competition, you know what this is like. There’s a ton of hard work, pain, sweat, and suffering that goes before your prize. But the prize is so worth it, isn’t it? When confession is difficult, when it is costly, this is our motivation. Renewed life, renewed joy. A new taste of the gospel that is always available to us.
Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? – Romans 2:4
If we fail to confess, we miss out on the joy of the gospel that many of us seek after. This is an invitation to pursue confession as a means to experience God’s kindness. I hope you pursue that with me.