Confession is speaking truth.
It is telling what is true about us.
Sometimes that is telling the truth about things that we are happy to share with others, because they are things in which we delight.
We confess our love for R&B.
We confess our passion for citrus-y desserts.
We confess our addiction to The Walking Dead.
Confession is also speaking truth about things that we are not so excited about sharing with others—aspects that generate shame and guilt.
We resist confessing them, hoping that, by hiding them, they will somehow disappear.
Instead, they grow in the darkness. Their roots dig down deeper, their tentacles grab on more tightly.
Sin loves the darkness and isolation. The more we keep our sin private, the more we keep it covered and away from others, away from the light, the more it grows in its power over us. It uses the shame and guilt to make us even less likely to bring it out into the light, because (it tells us) others would turn away from us in disgust.
And nobody wants that.
But the truth is that there is freedom in confession. Confession is truth, and the lies that are told about confession are just that—lies. When we confess our sins, we bring them out into the light. There is freedom in confessing our sin to another believer who is trustworthy, and knows the freedom of confession as well. The power of sin dissipates in the bright sunlight of the gospel. It bleaches the sinner clean in the truth of the love of Christ.
Confession to our brothers and sisters is a two-way street. As we confess our sins to our brothers and sisters in Christ, they confess the gospel truth back to us.
We confess to the sinner (whom we see as not a wretch unlike ourselves, but a fellow, forgiven son or daughter): here is the truth about you.
You are forgiven.
You are loved.
You are holy, because He is holy, and you are in Him.
You are a royal priesthood.
You are chosen.
You are beloved.
You can never be kicked out of the family.
We speak the Word of truth, and confess it, one to another. We have failed, and will fail. But he is faithful and just.
“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 our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. “ 1 John 1:8-9
“…and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
“If we are faithless, he remains faithful–for he cannot deny himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13
We remind each other of these things (2 Tim. 2:14). We encourage one another and build each other up. ( 1 Thess. 5:11) As we confess the truth about our sins and about ourselves to each other, we also confess the truth about the One who has taken care of it for us, the Spirit who is walking with us, and is in and through us, every day.
We confess the truth through the praying and singing of Psalms.
We confess that we deserve the curse.
We confess that because of his mercy, Christ has taken the curse for us.
We confess that we live in freedom, to pour out his mercy to others, because we are beloved and forgiven.
Confession has to happen, to bring out the blessing and the truth of the confession of what God has done in Christ for us.
The church recognizes that we not only need to confess to God privately, and to a trusted friend and believer, but that we are strengthened and helped by confessing things corporately, as the body of believers: locally, globally, and spanning the generations of time. Those who have gone before us have written creeds and confessions for us to repeat, to say, to agree with—to confess the truth together.
So at church, we confess our sins together, in a time of confession, both silently and corporately. And then we confess the historic truths of our faith, together.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day He rose again;
He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
and He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
Light is brought to bear on what was hidden. Shame is uprooted and banished; guilt is taken away.
Our roots are more deeply grounded in the truth of the gospel, and the light of truth shines down on us.
We confess this truth.
We are set free.