by Matt Slick
Biblically we confess our faith and we confess our sins. Both are declarations. To confess our faith means to publicly declare our belief in Christ. To confess our sins means to admit them. Of course, our confession is properly accompanied by a request of forgiveness.
When we confess our sins to the one against whom we have sinned, we are humbling ourselves and becoming vulnerable. Our confession before God is the same. It is an act of humility, a necessary attitude when we approach the infinitely holy God of the universe. Confession is a sweet release and welcome healing to the soul. Once completed, confession restores relationships and often brings blessing. Confession is good. It is sometimes hard, but it is always good.
Have you ever committed a sin that you have tried to hide? Have you ever tried to bury a sin in your heart? Have you ever sinned against someone and not asked forgiveness because to do so would mean to face the person and admit your sin, risk the shame and embarrassment of such an admission, become vulnerable, and show humility? Have you ever confessed a sin to God only, but not to the person you've sinned against? After all, it is easier to confess our sins to the God we can't see than to the person we can. Have you ever done this and struggled with trying to get by with confessing to God, but not to the one you've offended? If so, if you have ever hidden your sin and not followed through in the confession that God desires, then you know the ache of the Holy Spirit who gently and persistently calls you to repentance.
The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin (John 16:8). He indwells our hearts and requires that we not harbor sin. He lets us know that we have an obligation to be vulnerable, admit our wrong, ask for forgiveness, and receive it. He desires our purity and we cannot be pure by harboring unconfessed sin in our hearts. Therefore, He calls us to confession and restoration. He is persistent. Finally, when confession is made, Jesus is glorified and your fellowship with God is restored. Nevertheless, if you do not confess your sins, then the loving work of the Spirit will gently, constantly, and persistently call you to confession. When the Holy Spirit wants you to admit your sin, He will not leave you alone. He makes His presence felt. He doesn't give up.
It is both a pain and a blessing to be convicted by the Spirit of God. It is painful because that is what conviction is, painful. It is unpleasant, and the longer you resist, the more He persists and the more our discomfort is felt. On the other hand, the Spirit's conviction is a blessing because it means you belong to God and He is actively working in your heart. It means He has not given up on you and that He desires what is best for you -- even though that means doing something that may not be pleasant. It is good to be convicted by the Spirit of God. It is very good.
Confession is also good. We need to not harbor sin in our hearts. We need to openly declare our sins before God and, if need be, before others. Jesus died to remove our sin and to grant fellowship with God. He did not die so that we could hide sin in our hearts. You see, God, who is holy, is too pure to look upon evil (Hab. 1:13). Therefore, He gently and persistently calls us to confess our sins, to be cleansed, and to walk in fellowship with the Son (1 Cor. 1:9).
"In Victor Hugo's great Les Miserables, Jean Valjean, the ex-convict, under a new name, had buried his past and became the prosperous mayor of a provincial town. But one day he learned that in a neighboring village an old man arrested for stealing apples had been identified as the notorious and long-sought ex-convict, Jean Valjean. That news precipitated a crisis in the soul of the real Jean Valjean. Should he keep silent, or should he reveal his identity and be sent back to the gallows? Should he remain in paradise and become a demon, or go to hell and become an angel?
His first impulse was to say nothing and do nothing. Out of a secret closet in the wall he drew a blue linen blouse, an old pair of trousers, an old knapsack, and a huge cudgel shod with iron at both ends. These were the last ties which attached him to the old Jean Valjean. He threw them into the fire, and then seized the candlesticks which the Bishop had given him and flung them into the flame. But a voice said, Jean Valjean, there will be many voices around you which will bless you, and only one which will curse you in the dark. All those benedictions will fall back before they ascend to God. This made him take the candlesticks out of the fire and replace them on the mantel. All through the night he fought his awful battle, until, in the morning, his servant told him that the carriage he had ordered to take him to the town where the old man was on trial waited at the door.
The next day as the president of the court was about to pronounce sentence, the true convict stood up before the court and said, 'I am Jean Valjean. Some thought that he was mad, and others pitied him for the sacrifice he had made. As he left the courtroom, he said: All of you consider me worthy of pity, do you not? When I think what I was on the point of doing, I consider that I am to be envied. God, who is on high, looks down on what I am doing at this moment, and that suffices'" (Taken from Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations)"