The Secret Power of Confession

October 29, 2012 — 2 Comments


Confession to other Christian men is one of the most important Gospel-powered actions you can take in your fight against lust. I briefly mentioned it in last week’s post.

I believe there are at least four powerful elements at work when you confess your lust to other men in the church. Because of these elements, confession is something you need to start doing now or you will see no real progress in your fight against lust. It takes a village to kill an idol, if you will.

The power of humiliation

Confessing is humiliating. Therefore, it is one of the best ways to know you are willing to do whatever it takes to change.

A willingness to be humbled in front of men you look up to is a sure sign that you value your relationship with God above all else. There is an incredible power that comes from this humiliation. As James says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). An aspect of that grace is undeserved strength to live in obedience, as well as forgiveness for sins. As John says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Therefore, humiliating yourself by confessing your shameful deeds actually erases the shame. Otherwise, how could you be forgiven for something you are keeping a secret? By confessing to God and man, your shame is immediately dissolved by forgiveness. You cannot be ashamed of things that are no longer on your account.

The power of light

Confession is bringing the darkness of your heart out into the light. Once it is in the light, it is no longer darkness.

Paul says to the Christians at Ephesus,

“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light” (Ephesians 5:11-13)

Anything that becomes visible IS light. When you expose the dark corners of your heart, those corners become bright. Our sins were paid for on the cross, so we don’t have to be afraid of exposing them to God and man. Jesus was already punished for those sins.

Exposing your sins to others when you are a Christian means that you reveal to yourself and others the depth of God’s love. He knew those sins before you even committed them and yet he sent his Son anyway. The more you and others see the sins he had to die for, the more you see how great was his love on the cross all along.

The power of community

With secret shame you become isolated and you wonder if anyone else is as despicable as you. Confessing to a community of Christian men shows you that you are not alone.

Trust me, when you confess to other men, you will find that many of them are struggling just like you. You will find that not only are they as despicable as you but that they can preach the good news of forgiveness more effectively than you can preach it to yourself. You need to be preaching the Gospel to yourself constantly, but there is something powerful about someone outside of yourself preaching it specifically to you as well.

The power of resurrection

Confession takes a sort of dying to yourself. And when you die to yourself, the power that raised Christ from the dead makes Christ alive in you as well.

That is a lot of Christianese, so let’s try to say it in more common terms. When you confess, you give up your desires to be seen as someone who has it all together. You are giving up your autonomy, saying that you need outside help to be someone different than you are. Also, by confessing lust you are giving up the freedom to continue in lust without the possibility of someone asking you about it later.

This giving up of yourself is a death of some of your desires. It is a killing of many of the desires that feed lust in the first place.

But you cannot be left for dead. You need new life. You need new desires.

Within the act of confession you pave the way for the power of the resurrection to sprout new desires in place of the old deadly desires. You invite the same power that raised Jesus from the dead to come raise your heart from the filth of idolatry. There is nothing more powerful than God’s power that conquered death.

Armed with these four powerful elements of confession, I guarantee you will start to see real fruit in your heart. But beware. The enemy will tell you all sorts of lies to psych you out of confessing in your moment of need. Don’t listen to him! When in doubt, confess! Though confessing hurts, it will never tear you down. But if you do not confess when you need to, it will eventually crush you.

Discussion Questions

How have you seen in your own life the power of confessing to others?

What things keep you from confessing?