Spiritual Discipline #9 - Confession

For a long time, I carried around guilt and shame over things I had done during my childhood and teen years, some more significant than others. But no matter how large, secrets I had kept for years acted as a wedge in any deep relationship I had. What if they found out? What if they really knew the truth about me? They wouldn’t like me so much then. This is the rationale that shame produces. To clarify, I was a believer in Jesus during all this time. I sinned as a believer. I carried shame as a believer. Theologically I knew I had been saved from my sins, but on a practical level, shame was an invisible weight I carried all the time.
 
There’s a curious verse found in 1 John, that addresses the issue of shame. “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another” (1 John 1:7). This verse is curious because it doesn’t seem to follow logically. It seems as though it should end with “him.” If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with him… But that’s not what it says. Instead, John tells us that walking the light with God leads to fellowship (or true relationship) with others.
 
This is the power of the discipline of confession. As a believer, confessing your sins to another person does nothing to impact your standing with God. It is Jesus’ sinless life of victory and his voluntary sacrifice on the cross that restores you to right standing before God. What's needed to embrace that gift is repentant faith in and commitment to Christ. Confession, however, has a profound effect on my relationship with others.
 
The shame I mentioned above came with me right into my adult years. Shame is one of Satan’s favorite tools, and many people (believers included) live their whole lives haunted by it. Thankfully, God led me on the road of confession, where I was able to bring the sources of my shame into the light, thus disarming it of its hold on me. Remarkably, as I trusted my untold story to safe people, I didn’t meet the rejection I feared. Instead, I met acceptance and love. There is simply nothing like being truly known and loved anyway. That is how God loves us. He knows us fully and loves us fully. Yet, one of the most powerful ways God manifests his love to us is through other godly people who will know us, accept us, and love us no matter what our past (or present) holds.
 
James, the brother of Jesus, is another NT writer that emphasizes the importance of mutual confession, stating that lack of confessed sin can become a barrier to living in freedom and even health, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16). If we are to live healthy and whole lives as God intends, the discipline of confession is a must.
 
Breaking the power of shame through the discipline of confession opens the gates for true friendship; it is often the first step in breaking the power of habitual sin or addiction; and as you move into a place of victory you can become a beacon of hope and help to those still stranded.
 
Application points
  1. Choose a godly person(s) that you really trust to confess to. Wait to share your story more widely until you’re truly in a place of victory over sin and shame.
  2. Keep your confessions current. If you’ve never done it before, you may have some big skeletons in the closet that you need to deal with first. But as you move into a state of victory, regular confession will help keep you free and move you toward even deeper levels of holiness and intimacy with God and others.

Questions? Comments? Email sean@gfcnj.com

Sean's Picks

You See Me? - This story from an Alliance international worker demonstrates the power of small acts of kindness and mercy extended to those on the margins.

Brokenness Aside – This song by All Sons & Daughters praises God for his ability to make beauty out of brokenness:

Missions Spotlight:

Praise God For:
1. Wanda, who came to our Montclair center for a pregnancy test and ultrasound. She came to her appointment undecided about her pregnancy but after talking with our client advocate and having an ultrasound she decided to carry and parent. After the ultrasound she met with our client advocate again and rededicated her life to Jesus. Praise God for her decision to carry and rededicate her life!
 
2. Zuri, who came to our Plainfield center for a pregnancy test and ultrasound. Before the ultrasound part of her appointment she had her heart set on having an abortion, however when she was talking with our client advocate after the ultrasound she shared that seeing the baby was incredible and asked for resources to help her parent. Praise God for her decision to carry.
 
3. Octavia, who came to our Jersey City center for a pregnancy test and ultrasound. When she came for her appointment, she was concerned what her family would think about her pregnancy because she was only with her boyfriend for a few months. Our client advocate got a call a few days after their appointment from her boyfriend asking about where they can go for prenatal care. Praise God for their decision to choose life and parent!
 
4. Crystal, who came to our Montclair center for a pregnancy test and ultrasound. Crystal had her heart set on having an abortion, however after talking with our client advocate and seeing her baby on the ultrasound screen she decided that she wanted to carry. She is still nervous about being a mom but has support from her father and boyfriend. Praise God she decided to carry and please pray that she would have the confidence to be a good mom.
 
5. Our Education Director's Real Talk presentation video, which was sent to 2,580 students after schools were closed for the year!
 
6. A grant from the Catholic Human Services Foundation to replace the roof on our Jersey City center.
 
7. Renovations to our Morristown center that were donated to our ministry!
 
8. A successful Golf Shoot-Out with $69,377.24 raised in gifts and pledges. This results in 57 babies saved!

Please Pray For:

1.  Trinity, who came to our Newark center for a pregnancy test and ultrasound. Her parents want her to get an abortion because she needs to continue her education and because her pregnancy would cause embarrassment to the rest of the family. Trinity thought she was only a few months along but found out she was 29 weeks during the ultrasound. When we followed up with her, she said she was very scared and nervous and that her parents had made an appointment for her for an abortion out of state. Our client advocate told her that her parents cannot force her to have an abortion, however Trinity said she would never to go against her parents' wishes. Please pray that she would use the information we gave her to get help and that her parents would let her make her own decision.
 
2. Lacey, who came to our Montclair center for a pregnancy test. She does not want to continue her relationship with the father of the baby and is concerned that her parents will be disappointed in her. Please pray that she would be able to share the news with her parents and receive the support she needs to move forward and that she would see this pregnancy as a life she is carrying.
 
3. Vera, who came to our Jersey City center for a pregnancy test. Both Vera and her boyfriend have traits of sickle cell, a red blood cell disorder. She already has a baby that it was passed down to and she is fearful that it would happen again. Please pray that Vera would trust God and choose life.
 
4. Jade, who came to our Newark center for a pregnancy test and ultrasound. She wants to have an abortion because she and her boyfriend lost both of their jobs and there is no way to support a baby right now. She is worried though, because she has had multiple abortions in the past and does not want to go through it again. During the ultrasound she was amazed that there was a heartbeat. Please pray that they would consider adoption and that God would make Himself real to them during this time.
 
5. Xandria, who came to our Plainfield center for a pregnancy test. Her dad is very sick and she doesn't want to add any more stress to her families' situation. Even though she has not told her family anything, her mom has been noticing her weight and making rude comments. Please pray that God would make Himself real to her during this season.
 
6. God's leading and direction as we plan for our Banquet in October. At this point, we're planning an in-person and an online event and need God's wisdom as we plan.
 
7. God's provision of a new Center Director for our Montclair location. More information about this full-time position can be found at our website.
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