by Donna Lee SchillingerShe who conceals her sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Proverbs 28:13
Do you have a dirty little secret? Maybe you’ve already repented and been forgiven of it and you wonder what is the point of confessing it? Well, here’s your answer. Concealing evil deeds will keep us from prospering. And all the things we imagine might happen if we confess the evil? That’s just fear, brought to us by Satan himself, to hold us back from prosperity. In this verse, we see the promise of confession; it’s mercy.
Confession is an integral part of the Catholic and Episcopalian doctrines. Most Protestants reject the idea of confession to a person in order to obtain God’s forgiveness. True, God is the one who forgives, but scripture does support confession to another person – not just by prayers in our head (James 5:16). However, that’s rarely practiced in Protestant denominations. Even a few decades ago, it was common for Protestants to at least walk to the front of the congregation or the altar to accept Christ, making a symbolic gesture of confession. Now it seems that confession by mouth is a thing of the past. Wherever we are standing or sitting, we can “just repeat this simple prayer” to receive Christ into our hearts. Yes, that works and there’s no disputing it. Christ can be anywhere and bring us into the fold even if we’re incapable of uttering a word. However, in that process, there is no confession by mouth. And in more cases than not, I fear people are just going about their business afterward without ever actually telling someone, “I realized I was a sinner and that I needed forgiveness.”
Why is that so hard to say? We’re ashamed of it, that’s why. And perhaps we’re ashamed of what we’ve done to remedy it – of our decision to accept Christ. Consequently, those around us don’t know where we stand. Friends and family may note some difference in our behavior and attitudes as we begin to grow spiritually, but they can’t say for sure what the cause of the change is. “Maybe she’s just maturing.” We keep everyone guessing about the status of our soul.
That’s not a very auspicious start to a life-time of service to God. We’ve just slipped into the ranks without being noticed, our eyes cast downward, hoping no one will point us out as being new to the Lord’s army. Shame on us. Really, shame is on us when we do this. We are ashamed and shame on us for being ashamed.
Worse than shame though is how we cheat ourselves out of the blessing of prosperity. If I’ve described your situation and you have also happened to notice that this Christianity thing doesn’t seem to be making a huge difference in your life, try this: Write a mass e-mail announcing that you are a Christian. Better yet, post it on your Facebook homepage or MySpace page. Who cares if it happened three years ago or when you were a kid. If you’re an incognito Christian, come out of the closet now. Something simple will do: “God recently revealed to me the importance of confession. So I wanted to let everyone know that a few years ago, I realized I was a sinner in need of a Savior and I gave my life to Christ. I’m writing this because I think there may be some people who don’t know this about me, and it’s something you should really know about me.”
I don’t believe we need to confess the specific sin that made us realize we’re sinners. The truth is there are a lot of different sins that make us sinners. Many of them we’re unaware of until we come to know Christ and over time, God reveals them to us. However, I think there can be value in confessing specific sins, particularly if doing so will serve as a motivation for others to avoid making the same mistakes. This was my motivation in publishing online the journal I wrote to my deceased son. I always knew that sex outside of marriage was a sin, but reasoning it out, I figured the only one I was hurting was me. That was a trade off I was willing to make, especially since I lived in denial that my sin would ever catch up with me anyway. Well, it did. And that’s what the journal is about. It’s something young women are not being made aware of enough. I encourage you to read the journal; it’s available online only as a free e-book download at http://www.OnMyOwnNow.com.Hold this thought: I confess that I was lost in sin but am no more.
Donna Lee Schillinger is editor of the recent anthology Purity’s Big Payoff/Premarital Sex is a Big Rip-off, winner of the 2012 Christian Small Publisher’s Book of the Year. In 2008 she founded On My Own Now Ministries to encourage faith, wise life choices and Christ-likeness in young adults. On My Own Now publishes the free, monthly online magazines, Single! Young Christian Woman and Genuine Motivation: Young Christian Man.