On Confession

I find a kind of excellence in confessing certain sins. Not that the confession is excellent, but the possession of the sin itself. Sins like pride and covetousness seem almost virtues in a culture like ours, so to confess them as sin is almost to boast of noble vulnerability. But there are other sins which, when confessed, are not in the least flattering. And I’ll not list them here.

The reason I do not wish to confess them is not because of what others may think of me (though that is not of little consequence – have that for one confession!), nor is it what my Lord will think of me (what does he not already know?). The reason I avoid confessing these sins, these baser and most putrid sins, is that I don’t want to know of them myself. These are my sins, indeed.


12 responses to “On Confession

  1. How do you read James 5:16?

    Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

    Are we to make confession of our sins to our brothers or sisters a regular thing?

    al sends

  2. yes do-tell…. Pastor Bryant is listening… and the whole world wide web…

    I am finding that I am too lazy to shed light on some of my deepest, besetting sins. These are the sins which have deep, familial roots… passed on and claimed for my very own. It takes too much mental work. And who wants to confess these type of sins – it smacks of psychology and implicates others and gets messy quick. There is layering upon layering of sin, w/ a cherry on top.

  3. These sins that beset, that seem so woven into my physical flesh, that operate at dna-like levels, that come without thought, prodding, ribbons and bows …. I am finding a better description of them might be addictions. And that word grieves me almost, if not more, than sin. Confessing besetting sins …. makes me human …. sigh, relief! Admitting I have addictions …. makes me not in control … a great blow to pride and religious-self!

    I am in these last few days, crying out to my LORD, I don’t want to be addicted to anyone or anything BUT YOU! And unless you set me free, I will not be free indeed.

    My confession is not persay what my besetting sin/addictions are (though it is good to name our sins, count them one by one …. and no, I, too, will not name them here so others might say … we are not surprised by that). My confession is more to my helpless state; that no matter how far along God’s transforming work is in me He is still transforming areas of bondage and darkness. I am without His work, a facade of self-improvement that reigns in my addictions into the cover of night where the enemy of my soul tells me I have all things under control.


    My confesssion to God is that I am serving idols, addicted to them, and I CAN NOT change unless HE changes me and I CAN NOT walk in uprighteous unless He causes me to walk in uprighteous. I am at His mercy. Oh, Father, make me addictive to YOU!

  4. SJ said, “I am without His work, a facade of self-improvement that reigns in my additions into the cover of night where the enemy of my soul tells me I have all things under control.”


  5. One of the good purposes of the time in the Church calendar is a concerted self-examination. The problem lies with the fact that we are self-deluded, the heart being wicked, and prideful. this is where confession to one another is so very helpful.

    The question is… to whom do we confess? Blogs are a terrible place to start or finish for that matter. I think your husband or wife is first (heck, they know your sins already) and then a close friend, who will stick by you closer than a brother in the midst of your sin.

    What do you think about pastors hearing the confession of their flock?

    al sends

  6. First, let me say that my original post is not a confession properly speaking. It is more an observation on the intensity of it – a brood on the darkness and insidiousness of sin. I recall Richard Sibbes’ poem:

    It were an easy thing to be a Christian,
    if religion stood only in a few outward works and duties,
    But to take the soul to task,
    and to deal roundly with our own hearts,
    and to let conscience have its full work,
    and to bring the soul into spiritual subjection unto God,
    That is not so easy a matter,
    because the soul out of self-love is loath to enter into itself,
    lest it should have other thoughts of itself than it would have.
    (quoted in Speaking Truth in Love by David Powlison)

    I do think that confession to spouse, intimate friend is best, and for the reasons you stated. There is also something to be said of living confessionally, by which I mean to live in such a way that we are willing to be stripped of pride, free from the bondage of self-image. This requires great wisdom and humility (to which I aspire). Confession to a pastor is, I think, helpful as well (that is unless followed by penance and absolution based on said penance). It is the duty of the pastor to lead in real ways, and in dealing with sins (generally and particularly) is to truly lead.

    More can be said. And it probably will be.

  7. I have a friend who has been very humble and faithful to honestly confess his sins to small group leaders and pastors in his church. He is a fine believer, in many ways, but he has been looked over for further leadership roles within his church. I can’t help but think it might be due to his transparency. It is a shame that we do not want our church leaders/pastors to be that transparent with us. So what we end up with, is not necessarily the best leaders, but the ones who appear to be the best. If we aren’t careful, this all will take us further away from Jesus than when we first began. How do we hold leaders to the higher standard scripture commands us to, and yet at the same time, encourage them to be good christians in the normal sense of the word also? Some would say, “Confess to another pastor.” That can be a quick road to a car sales job also. Who can you really trust?

  8. This post calls to mind an experience I had about 10 years ago, during a period in my walk with Christ when I seemed to have stalled in sanctification, and felt I was taking my own sin for granted. I was sick of myself repeating the same sins over and over, and confessing them over and over. Finally one morning during my prayer time I began pleading with God to show me my sin as He sees it. I wanted to understand what an offense against His holiness my causal and repeated disobedience was. After asking Him many times to show me my sin, I was suddenly overcome with such a feeling of revulsion, for just a split second, that I nearly became ill. It was as if God had pulled back the curtain for a brief moment to let me experience the putridness of my sin as it really is, not as I tend to see it. But in His mercy He closed the curtain again, since He knew that it would destroy me to fully see my sinfulness in light of His holiness.

    I’d like to say that this experience has had lasting fruit to this day, but I would be lying. But at times I still go back to that experience and let God remind me of the seriousness of my sin, so as not to take His grace for granted.

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