Compelled to Confess
Written by Gus Goggin
Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
Jesus had this strange habit of forgiving people of their sins. Two thousand years later, we accept that part of His reputation like it makes sense. But really, it was kind of bizarre.
In Mark 2, we read the story of a paralyzed man carried to Jesus by four of his friends. They have to cut a hole in the roof to get him close enough to Jesus to be noticed. And Jesus’s response? He looks at him and says, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” A few minutes later, he heals him, but he starts with forgiveness. I think we see that, for Jesus, dealing with sin takes precedence over much of what we may deem more important.
Certainly sin isn’t good for us. Paul even tells us that the wages of sin is death. It’s true that God doesn’t want us to sin, but His word clearly teaches us what to do in the inevitable event of sin. In Proverbs 28:13 (above) and so many other scriptures, God’s wisdom is showing us that if you’ve swallowed poison, so to speak, tell someone! Get help! Don’t just keep it to yourself out of fear or embarrassment. In essence, this is the discipline of confession.
Unfortunately, I tend to think of confession only as a precursor to punishment; that by owning up to the direness of a situation, I will soon be cut down. Not only do I feel this way in my personal relationships with the people around me, this sentiment tends to creep into my relationship with God. The problem is that I become like a sick person concealing my disease for fear of what will happen when the truth is out that I’m not alright. This perspective with confession reveals a misguided notion I have of God’s response to my sin.
When it comes down to it, I hesitate to confess my sins to God because I’m worried He’ll be disappointed in me. I know God already sees my sin, and I believe God is truly merciful. But in the end, I mistakenly believe that this particular sin isn’t going to fall under the umbrella of God’s grace. “God covers everyone else’s sin, but mine is extra bad and just needs to stay hidden.”
I also hesitate to confess to others because I’m convinced their disappointment will be too much to bear. It feels so incredibly risky. I catch myself thinking, “Rather than confess something to a close friend, it would be so much easier to just keep it to myself. Then they wouldn’t think there’s anything wrong with me, and they’ll keep liking me!”
In essence, I’m saying I’d rather lie to myself and hide my sin from my friends and from God than confess and open myself up to grace and forgiveness. Heaven help us because we think so backwards sometimes!
God’s grace and mercy are more than I could ever imagine. In 1 John 1.9, we read this promise: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I am learning to let God’s promise to us compel me to confession, to let God in to do the work He longs to do.
Write This Way: It may feel risky, but perhaps you need to reach out to a friend, someone to confide in as you take a step toward confession. In our moments of honesty and openness, we are promised to experience God’s grace.
About the Author:
Gus Goggin is the College Pastor at Commonway Church, and couldn’t be more thrilled. Gus grew up on a farm just outside a New Castle, Indiana, and graduated from New Castle High School in 2012. In 2016, he graduated from Ball State, but much more importantly, he married his wife, Stephanie, the summer before his Senior year. Gus has been going to Commonway for five years and has been a part of Commonway Kids, Commonway Youth, and multiple small groups. Gus and Stephanie are excited to be serving the church and college students.