Confession is the first component of recovery. As followers of Christ, we know that confessing our sins to God brings us back into a right relationship with Him (1 John 1:9), but according to James 5:16, we should “confess our sins to one another and pray for one another, so that we may be healed.”
Confession brings our sins out into the open so we (and others) can deal with them. If we confess to another believer and receive the grace and forgiveness of Christ through that person, we will find it amazingly liberating and refreshing. The first time I shared my struggles with another brother, I felt like “Christian” in Pilgrim’s Progress dropping my burden at the sight of the cross. As I imagined the pack of my sins rolling into the empty tomb to never be seen again, what joy filled my heart!
When I confessed my last relapse to my church’s leaders (the first they knew of my sexual addiction), a short time later, I arranged to have time alone with each of them so I could receive an honest, unfiltered response. One deacon told me that what I had done (my confession) really took courage. I agreed but responded by sharing a truth I discovered a while back. Yes, confession takes courage—sometimes lots of courage because the stakes are enormous. But truth is, my sin took courage too. When I acted out, I sinned boldly. I had gone places and done things that I had never done before. Sure, my fear of bringing home an STD kept me from physically engaging with another person (at least to that point), but I had unwisely discarded other fears of exposure and of my wife’s reaction to yet another betrayal.
I don’t know where the courage came from for me to sin—perhaps it was just blind stupidity fed by my addiction—but I do know where the courage came from to confess. Courage to do the right thing, to lay our heart open before God and another trusted servant of God, must certainly come from the Holy Spirit who fills us with boldness as we confess Christ as Savior and Redeemer. Take courage, my brother. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 ESV).
Next time—Who do we confess to first?