Confession is an amazing gift given to us by God, particularly because of the healing we experience through it.
We’re especially blessed by the simplicity of confession: just come to Jesus and tell Him what you’ve done. Don’t try to minimize the sin by explaining it or excusing it. You don’t need to give God a reason to forgive you. Forgiveness was His idea, not yours.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Isn’t that wonderfully simple?
Still, admitting your wrongs is uncomfortable and it’s natural to want to mention why you sinned–maybe you had a stressful day at work and the temptation to give into sin was too strong. Shame and fear of rejection can make us want to justify our sins and prove we’re “worthy” of forgiveness.
But the more we try to justify our actions, the less mercy we’ll receive. Excuses or explanations take us away from the place of humility in which we can receive the fullness of God’s grace and mercy. It may seem a little backward, but the people most undeserving of mercy and grace are the ones who receive the fullest of these gifts.
Mercy, by definition, can’t be earned; otherwise, it becomes a wage.
It may seem a little backward, but the people most undeserving of mercy and grace are the ones who receive the fullest of these gifts. Mercy, by definition, can’t be earned; otherwise, it becomes a wage.
Once we know that God wants to pour out His mercy on us, how do we actually receive this seemingly abstract gift? Here are some ideas:
- Try imagining Jesus on the cross absorbing the sins you’ve confessed.
- You could even write your sins down and throw them away or burn them.
- Or spend some time personalizing verses like 1 John 1:9: “[Your name], you have confessed your sins to Me, and I am faithful and just. I forgive you your sins, and I cleanse you now from all unrighteousness.”
Years ago, I came to a mentor of mine to come clean about looking at pornography. (Another part of the healing power of confession is unlocked when we confess our sins to brothers and sisters in Christ.) He recommended we go to God together and that I confess to God what I’d done. Not only did he listen to me, but he also helped me plainly confess what I’d done—without commentary, explanation, self-justification, or self-recrimination. Learning to confess in this way has made a profound difference in my life.
If there’s a particular sin burdening your heart, try confessing it to God and to a trusted fellow believer. Find a godly friend, mentor, pastor or priest and pray a simple prayer like this:
“Jesus, I confess I [name the sins you’ve committed]. I don’t deserve anything from you. Would you have mercy on me?”
He will. Thank God.
In your opinion, what else keeps us from honestly confessing? Or once we do, what keeps us from fully receiving God’s mercy? Leave a comment here.