Honesty Really Is the Best Policy.
“People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.” – Proverbs 28:13 NLT
Honesty. Transparency. Accountability.
Those are not particularly popular words among most Christians, especially those of the male variety. We have been raised to keep things close to the vest, not to let the other guy see our hand, and to never reveal a weakness to the competition. This attitude has resulted in a level of dishonesty and disingenuousness that is dangerous for us as believers. We have become masters at hiding our sins, masking our faults, and faking spirituality. We struggle with sin, but refuse to let anyone else know, even God. Yet, we are told, “if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness” (1 John 1:9 NLT). In James we are told “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 1:15 NLT). Yet, we continue to cover up and gloss over our sins, allowing fear of rejection and our own stubborn pride prevent us from enjoying the life-giving benefits of confession.
Hiding your sins may fool others, but only ends up harming you. Unconfessed sin becomes like a deadly toxin in our soul, a cancer that slowly eats away at our lives from the inside out. It saps us of spiritual vitality, robs us of joy, and diminishes our capacity to receive and enjoy the love, grace, and mercy of God in our lives. Like a child who has done something wrong, we tend to ignore and avoid any contact with God because we feel guilty about what we have done. We hide rather than run to Him for forgiveness. When we are around fellow believers, we tend to put up a facade that all is well, refusing to let them know that we are struggling. When we do so, we miss out on their prayers, encouragement, and support. Confession is cathartic. There is something therapeutic about letting the cat out of the bag and allowing someone else to know our secret. The moment we share and allow someone else to know our struggle is when we begin the journey toward healing and recovery.
But while confession is essential, there is a second step that often gets left out. Admitting your sins to God or another Christ-follower is a huge step in the right direction, but it shouldn’t end there. This verse says, “if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy” (Proverbs 2813 NLT). The word “turn” is actually the Hebrew word azab, and it means “to depart from, leave behind, abandon.” This is a two step process. First, you have to admit your sin, then, you have to turn from it. To confess and continue in your sin is not enough. There have to be steps taken toward change. Even in the 1 John passage, there is an aspect of repentance built into the idea of confession. God forgives and cleanses, but He expects change. He expects us to turn from and abandon our sinful ways, not continue in them. “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts” (1 John 1:8-10 NLT). Confession is a lost art in the church today. As a result, many of us walk around with unconfessed sin that is destroying our lives and damaging our walk with God. It puts up barriers between ourselves and other believers. We end up living fake, opaque lives that prevent anyone from seeing what we’re really like. And the silly part is that we all know that we all sin. There is no one without sin. So confession should not be a shock. The content of our confession may be, but God is greater than our greatest sin. He is able to forgive any transgression, no matter how large. We should be able to hear and lovingly accept the confession of any believer, no matter how a shock to our system it may be. Their openness is a key to the Body’s oneness. Our acceptance and love is a sign that we are truly Christ’s disciples. Honesty, transparency and accountability are the best policy for us as believers.
Father, break down the walls. Help us get rid of our stubborn pride and resistance to admitting our sins one to another. Create a transparency in the church like we’ve never seen before, and let it begin with me. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men