Thursday, September 24, 2009

How to confess your sins to another

It seems a silly question. Something that when it is brought up, the word “no-brainer” comes to mind. But still, the question is a very real dilemma for most (if not all!) Christians: “How do I confess my sins?”

Now almost immediately a well-intentioned Christian will jump into this discussion and say, “Oh that’s simple! Just say, “God, I’m sorry that I _________.” But recall . . . we’re not talking about the relatively easy task of confession before God. We’re talking about confessing your sins directly to another Christian. And therein begins the difficulty for most Christians. “Which sins do I confess?” “You mean even those really nasty ones?” “Do I have to name them ALL??”

What about that? Is it necessary to name every single sin before another Christian? Must you keep a detailed log of your sinful activity so that you can confess fully? Should you spend hours preparing your list of sins so that when you come to confession you can be sure to get it right?

Oh heavens no! Trying to name every single sin in confession changes it from a grace-centered into a law-centered work of righteouesness. It overshadows a rich gift of God and threatens to turn it into a self-righteous work. To paraphrase a good friend of mine, “Confession is made for man, not man for confession.”

So, no. Do not agonize over every single minute sin in confession. Do not rack your brain and try to invent sins that you have committed in order to confess them. If there is nothing particularly troubling you, if you have not committed any heinous, gross acts in the past week or so . . . well then you may feel free to name whatever sin you can recall. Don’t further burden your conscience and turn confession into a difficult chore; let it be the gift of God intends it to be: for you to be comforted by hearing that a specific sin has indeed been forgiven.

Next week: More on how you confess your sins to another Christian

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