- Renewing People
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Confession is more than just telling the truth about our sins. That is only part of the truth. The whole truth includes both the truth about ourselves and the truth about God.
The longest recorded confession in the Bible is Nehemiah 9:6-37. However, the confession of sin is not the main theme of these verses. Yes the people confess their sins, but more verses describe the faithfulness of God than the sins of the people. The people’s many sins are alternated with the themes of God’s grace, mercy, discipline, salvation, deliverance, and patience.
Often, when we confess our sin we don’t tell the whole truth. That doesn’t mean that we overlook certain sins, though we might. Rather, it means that in our prayer time and in our worship we often separate our confession of sin from our confession of faith.
Mark Roberts points out two advantages to telling the whole truth:
1. It highlights the nature of sin
Even though “sin,” “wicked,” and “evil” appear over 1800 times in the Bible, we often tend to minimize them. Society often explains it all away as just a result of social and economic factors. Christians, as well, often minimize their own sin by comparing themselves with others.
Self-justification is easy as long as we are just comparing ourselves to other human beings. However, when we place our sins alongside the character, attributes, and acts of God, we are without excuse.
Mark Roberts writes, “Only when we see ourselves as we truly are – sinners, lost without God – will our hearts be genuinely open for healing, forgiveness, and profound cleansing.”
2. It encourages us to confess our sins
While we might think comparing ourselves to a holy God might just frighten us and discourage us from confessing, the opposite is true. When we tell the whole truth by confessing the faithfulness of God, we find a wonderful freedom to tell the truth about ourselves. While God’s holiness exposes true nature of our sin, His grace and mercy invite us to confess it.
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1John 1:8-9 NIV2011