This post hits particularly close to home because this last week I had to confess to someone that I had not been completely forthright with them. It was not easy to do and I suppose I had covered it up almost as an automatic reaction and it really wasn’t until later that I had realized that I had not been forthright, to be honest it kind of felt like I was out of my body when I had done this and someone else had done it but that is simply an excuse because whatever comes out of our mouth we are responsible for, no matter what the circumstances. Confession is vital because it keeps us accountable to man but even more importantly to God, who already knows when we have sinned.
When we cover up our sins we are repeating the sins of Adam and Eve, our forebearers, who hid in shame from God instead of owning up to what they had done. Covering up our sins from God and from others distances us from God and, I would argue, from others as well because of the guilt and shame. Moreover, unconfessed and unrepented-of sins negatively affect our health. This is why the Lord’s brother James provides “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:16 ESV). To be free both spiritually, emotionally and physically confession is important.
Now one question to consider is to whom do we confess our sins and what sins do we confess? I think our conscience is our guide in this matter (although we need to make sure it is not defiled by repetitive sin that is unrepented of). The Holy Spirit, through our conscience, will let us know what sins to confess and to whom. We have countless sins that we are not aware of and often the Holy Spirit will bring something to remembrance for us to deal with, although if we have already confessed and repented of the sin then we should be cautious that such burdens are not false condemnation from the Devil. I have found that this discernment comes through experience and can only say that in my experience false condemnation often is a kind of feeling that is searing, forceful, unceasing and unsatisfied no matter what one does. But this is just my particular experience and I could be wrong at times (and I would guess that I am). Usually I find the Holy Spirit puts a gentle burden on me when there is something I need to confess as opposed to the heavy burden of false condemnation.
I pray that the Lord Jesus Christ brings to our mind any sins that he would like us to confess and gives us the strength and courage to do so, that we may be healed and restored both to God and man.