1 John 1:9 reads “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
The word ‘confess’ literally means to “speak the same thing.” To confess your sin is to call your sin what God calls it. We so often like to add adjectives and qualifiers to our sins. We rationalize our sins. We cover our disobedience with leaves and hide from God behind trees of self-justification like Adam in the Garden.But physically hiding from God in a well-manicured garden is as ineffective as hiding our sins behind well-manicured excuses.
We convince ourselves that we only told a white lie or a half-truth. We convince ourselves that we’re OK so long as we look but don’t touch. We have “respectable” or “character-flaw” sins. The “everybody does it,” sins like coveting. The “I just am the way I am,” sins like a ill- temper. We tell ourselves that we don’t gossip, we just “share” our concerns with anyone who will listen. We don’t covet; we saddle ourselves with thousands of dollars of debt to acquire the stuff we want. We excuse our anger and belittle others, we brow beat our wives and lord over people calling it ‘tough’ love. We despise others and feel justified in despising them because of how terribly they have sinned or how foolishly they’ve acted.We convince ourselves that our jobs, hobbies and entertainments aren’t idols. And yet we’re too ‘busy’ to play with our kids, to pursue our wives or clean the house. We’re so busy we don’t have time to read our bibles, to pray, to sing, to fellowship or serve the community.
To sin is to act contrary to love. To ‘confess’ then, means we call our failures to love what God calls them. Hold your life up to the standard of God’s word and call your sins what God calls them. Speak the same thing. Let the word of God and the Spirit of God search your heart. Ask God to reveal your sins to your face so that you can take responsibility for them.
Proverbs 28:13 “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”
Mercy awaits us, as undeserving as we are. Let us not belittle that grace by diminishing or justifying our sins. Let us confess with sincerity, holding nothing back. Don’t qualify and don’t justify. Call your sin what God calls it.