“Confession is good for the soul”—so says the old cliche. Like many cliches, it has the virtue of being true.
For the Christian, confession is not an option. We sin, and we confess, and our life with God goes on. It can’t be otherwise. Augustine, the great Christian teacher in the Roman empire, noted that “the confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works.”
People who cover over their sins will not prosper. But if they confess and forsake them, they will receive mercy. Proverbs 28:13
Oh, what joy for those whose rebellion is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of sin, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Finally I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD .” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. Therefore, let all the godly confess their rebellion to you while there is time, that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment. Psalm 32:1-6
The great “sin song” of the Bible is Psalm 51, supposed to have been written by King David when he felt guilt over his adultery. The most beautiful thing about the psalm is David’s full confidence that God will accept his repentant heart and restore again his spiritual health.
Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my shameful deeds — they haunt me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just. For I was born a sinner — yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. But you desire honesty from the heart, so you can teach me to be wise in my inmost being. Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me — now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:1-10
As the Scriptures say, “`As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, `every knee will bow to me and every tongue will confess allegiance to God.'” Yes, each of us will have to give a personal account to God. Romans 14:11-12
If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. 1 John 1:9
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results. James 5:16
The Book of God’s Promises—Copyright, 1999 by J. Stephen Lang. All rights reserved, used with permission.
J. Stephen Lang is the author of more than ten books about the Bible, including the bestselling The Complete Book of Bible Trivia, 1,001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible but Never Thought to Ask, The Bible on the Big Screen, Everyday Biblical Literacy, and The Complete Book of Bible Promises. Lang is a regular contributor to Today’s Christian, Discipleship Journal, Christian History and other periodicals. He lives in Seminole, Florida.