Monday, February 22, 2016

Confess Your Sins: The Benefits of Confession--James 5:16-17

Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. James 5:16-17 The Message.

"No," you say. "That went out with the 20th century."
"No," you declare. "That's only for Catholics."
"No." (And with this third iteration of no, we sound like we're talking in toddler-speak.) "I'd be ashamed for people to know what I've done wrong."

And I say, no to all the above.

Confession is an integral part of the Christian experience, and essential for complete spiritual healing. 

Just don't blab your life, or problems, or sins to just anyone.

I remember one time in a small group, we were talking about difficulties we had in our Christian walk. I mentioned that the Bible had become boring to me. After years of fervently devouring the Word, over the last few years, I couldn't get into it.

A week later I received a letter from two women who attended this supposed "safe" group. They impugned my salvation because anyone who found the Bible dull could not be a Christian (I don't think they ever read Chronicles). They derided my confession, and their accusations spiraled me into an anger that made me want to leave the church I loved. 

I didn't leave--praise God.

The lesson I learned is to choose when to confess. Verse 17 of James proclaims that the prayer of a person living right is powerful. Of the two women, one came to me and repented. The other demonstrated she did not live according to the precepts of the gospel...not that she wasn't saved, just ignorant and immature.

Today I'm involved with CR (Celebrate Recovery), a group like AA that helps those struggling with addiction. In order to work with the group, I have to take part in a "Step Study." Here, we work through the twelve steps to recovery just as all addicts do.

As the steps are worked, each member must confess the areas of her life that God is working on. We know that the group is a "safe place." What's said in the group, stays in the group. Each member is treated with respect and without judgment.

The end effect is powerful. No longer are our sins hidden to be used by the enemy to torment us. With our foibles exposed, they heal.

And almost better, the bond between each of us has deepened to a respect and love that transcends our disparate lives.

Confession is, as the cliche goes, good for the soul. In order for it to be so, be sure:

  1. It's to a righteous person
  2. Be sure that person is not judgmental (and believe me, you can tell quickly by conversation whether the person judges)
  3. It's understood everything we say is confidential
  4. If not to a church leader, be sure it's reciprocal
  5. Tapestry weaving
  6. Be certain of those who lead your church. Not all who say, "Lord, Lord" (Mt. 7:21) have the precepts down right.
Our group has become a beautiful tapestry--three lives woven together by the Master Creator. The end product is more beautiful and stronger than any of our lives alone.How has confession helped (or hindered) your walk?

Next week we leave James and explore how God loves us.

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