As I sit on a plane somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, I reflect on the health of my spiritual being. I remember a time when it was common for me to exist as a repeat offender in my sinful and carnal nature. Receiving victory over my sin was something I felt was out of my reach as I grew comfortable and accustomed to my evil character. It was not until I received the healing from my sin that I no longer continued in my sin. Thus, I am in the process of discovering the power of confession in my life, providing me with the opportunity to live in a state of spiritual healing.
Who do we confess to?
The Catholic Church builds confession booths in their churches to fulfill James 5:16. Although confession is good for the soul, confession of my sins to my brothers and my sisters cannot provide me with forgiveness for those offenses. To receive forgiveness for my transgression, I must go to the one I offended. Since sin offends God, only God has the power and authority to forgive my offensive fallen nature. Therefore, I go to Jesus to receive forgiveness of my sin and open myself up to my brothers or sisters to heal from my sin. The environment promotes or hinders the effectiveness of confession through the feeling of safety. People will only confess when they feel safe to do so, without fearing a breach of confidentiality.
Where do we talk?
Confession happens in safe places, where people are comfortable confessing their dark inner secrets, the secrets they try to hide. Without creating a safe place, confession becomes difficult and impossible to achieve. Therefore, before admission can occur, people must build enduring attachments with one another. Once the safe place exists through lasting attachments, then confession can fulfill its divine purpose. Enduring attachments provide a safety net of peace and love that tells the confessor that no matter what, they will experience the love of Christ. The same love that Jesus demonstrates to the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8:1-11) is the same way we must receive the confession of our brothers and sisters.
Mary, caught in the act of adultery, finds herself thrown at the feet of Jesus, waiting for the condemnation of judgment for her sin. Rather than Jesus condemning her upon her arrival at His feet, He bends down and begins to write in the dirt. We do not know what He wrote, but we know what He said as He continues to write. The famous statement: “he who is without sin, cast the first stone.” One by one, each accuser left their stone on the ground until finally, no one was left except Jesus and Mary. Jesus tells her that He would not condemn her for her actions but that she must go from that place and sin no more.
Who can forgive sins?
One fact stands tall in this section of the Biblical narrative, Jesus told the crowd that whoever was without sin could cast their stone. Only one person in the vicinity fit that criterion; Jesus was the only one without sin. Jesus was the only one with authority to condemn and instead offered forgiveness. I believe for Christ to dwell in me and become more like Him, I can possess no condemnation in my spirit for those who confess their sin and desire deliverance from their torment. The church has the power and authority to either create a safe place for healing or condemn people for their sins. Conviction comes from the Lord, and condemnation comes from Satan and us. Conviction always takes us to Christ, and condemnation takes away from His loving, forgiving embrace. Rather than permitting people the opportunity of leaving Jesus, the church can allow people to run to Jesus through divine conviction.
What about the church?
The Bible tells us that there exists no condemnation in Christ Jesus, but what about the body of Christ? What about God’s people? Are we quick to judge and condemn? Not only do many of us Christians pass condemnation through judgment, but we become prejudiced towards a hagiarchy of sin. In other words, it is easier to see others’ sins as more significant than our own. We fail to realize that at the foot of the cross, no sin exists more significant than the other. We also fail to remember that all of our sins fall short of God’s glory. So how can I obtain more of God’s glory? By allowing a safe place for confession and providing someone with the opportunity to receive their healing.
If the church cannot create a safe place for confession, then that same church will continue to possess people who cannot experience healing of their sins. They will forever identify as a sin offense repeater, never finding deliverance from their sinful torment. There is a difference between receiving forgiveness and healing from my sins. Healing will provide me with the opportunity to close the chapter on my repeating sin, that repeat that places me on the roller coaster of offense and forgiveness weekly. In other words, I continually seek forgiveness because I am still broken and in need of healing. Once I receive my healing, the wound closes, and my repeat offense no longer torments me.
Why do I sin?
I sin because my instinctual response comes from the learned behavior of sin. The development of instinctual behavior occurs through socialization in the lives of small children. We become a product of the environment in which we grow. I sin because I am instinctually socialized to behave that way. If I break the cycle of sin, I will change my subconscious decisions.
My daydream ends as my eyes come back into focus on land appearing on the horizon. Now I reflect on the power confession has on my life in Christ. I am a sinner, saved by grace, and without the sacrifice of Christ, I would have no hope but to spend eternity in hell. Confession gave me the power of my sin, and the hold it once had on me has now lifted, giving me the opportunity of freedom. Without confession, I would continue in the sin cycle, receiving forgiveness and failing repeatedly.