Text: — James 5:16 — Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. [NIV84]
The Big Idea: I have found that in the moment of confession followed with “I forgive you,” or “you are forgiven,” there is deep soul healing.
I have found healing in the confessing to others my sin. And as a pastor/counselor I have found that in the moment of confession followed with “I forgive you,” or “you are forgiven,” there is deep soul healing. Have you found this to be so, too?
There are several traditions of confession in the Church. Some offer this opportunity daily, some weekly and some monthly. In some traditions, there is an element of obligation, and though for some, this functions as a motivator, perhaps the promise of healing is better motivator.
For me, it is the promise of healing. The relief and release this healing of forgiveness brings motivates me in confession. I have a vivid memory of hearing those words, “You are forgiven, my son.” I remember the feelings of freedom, the relief and release that came after listening to the intercessor, and then as left the building, my steps were airy—buoyant—as a peace and a joy flooded my soul, a rare experience, indeed. In the tradition of confession I am in now, I endeavor to bring this more formal, conscious element to the forefront. As I mentioned above, I have found that many (dare I say, “all”?)—including myself—need to hear, “You are forgiven….”
Lifestyle worshipers, do you offer this opportunity to your brothers and sisters in Christ? This opportunity for relief and release from the bondage of their sins through forgiveness? Indeed, do you connect the “powerful and effective” prayer of v. 16 above to “confess your sins to each other” in this healing process? I do.
Many, however, are more than cautious to be so vulnerable in this type of confession—“to each other.” (Gossip, for one, is a major cancer here. Being reminded of our past sins in a disagreement or argument is another.) I know that being so vulnerable has its own set of factors and wounds and awkwardness. So I have learned from the Word two guiding principles when it comes to confession: (1) As public the sin so public the confession; and (2) As private the sin so private the confession. In the former, those who witnessed the sin need to witness the confession; in the later, if the sin never makes it out of our heads, then there the confession is said; the Lord literally knows, anyway.
Perhaps these two guiding principles will dispel some fears and awkwardness, but alas confessing our sins doesn’t appear to be completely free of such. Or do you think the promise of healing and freedom overcomes such?
Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts
Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
— Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV84)
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
—Luke 19:8-10 (NIV84)
Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds.
—Acts 19: 18 (NIV84)
Heavenly Father, by the shed blood of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and through His power, I confess I have been fearful of confessing those sins that need to be confessed to my brothers and sisters. I have sinned against You and denied myself the healing and freedom that comes from this confession. I ask You, Lord Jesus Christ, to bear the consequences of my actions. Remove the pain and shame I have caused Your Name. Be that part of my life that has been disobedient and in bondage to fear. I release myself into Your hands. In Your Name, Amen.