This chapter is pretty heavy, and I do not intend to delve too deeply into the theology. But what really struck me as I’ve read and pondered this chapter is how this discipline is really a component of corporate prayer. If you are not praying with other people, then the discipline of confession is probably not a part of your life. If you are meeting with one to two to three others, then I imagine that confession plays at least some role. I have two lovely women that I pray with once a month, and confession is not a formal part of what we do, but it is to some degree a natural part. I’m not saying we confess anything horrifyingly big or shocking, but in the natural course of us talking about what we might pray about, confession is implicit. There are a whole host of reasons why we should do this, but I want to focus on two.
Knowing You are NOT Alone
One of the great deceptions of Satan is to try to convince us that we are the only one who’s ever done or thought such a thing. But the Bible is clear: “no temptation has seized you except what is common to man.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) Through transparency and confession you quickly learn that other people have been tempted in the same way or even committed the same sins. Confession is a great way to combat that little voice that doesn’t want you forgiven, that beats you up mentally over and over again for the same transgression. Obviously, it is not that you can only be forgiven by telling another human being, but confessing it to someone else might be a great help with embracing the forgiveness that is already yours. And like Foster said, it is not just anyone that you’d want to do this with. So if you don’t have friends that listen to you, love you and pray for you and can keep a confidence, then seek them out and ask God to bring them into your life.
There is amazing transformation in forgiveness, and it is, in many respects, a person’s greatest need. There’s a Newsboys song that says, “you are only sick as all your secrets.” Is that not true? We can be so transformed, so freed from our secrets, through confession and forgiveness. But God won’t make you do it. Your friends, the very best most godly friends, can’t make you do it. It is 100% up to you.
So let me just close with that great summation from St. Alphonsus Liguori: “For a good confession three things are necessary: an examination of conscience, sorrow, and a determination to avoid sin.”
May we examine our hearts this week and ask God for guidance and wisdom in implementing the discipline of confession.