“He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.” – Proverbs 28:13
Another vital aspect of Biblical Counseling that must be mentioned is the need for confession of sins. The verse given above is a great summary of what a person must do when they are confronted with the sins they struggle with. When a believer sins, or is living in sin there is only one solution to his problem. His sins first must be confronted, and second they must be confessed. A person who tries to hide his sin will never prosper as the Proverbs says.
In James 5:16, the Scriptures say, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.” People in the church of God are commanded to confess their sins to one another. Confession; Biblically speaking means that you are, “admitting a punishable deed”. You are agreeing with someone (namely God) that what you have done was wrong, and admitting that wrong. My main point of this post is to show the danger of living in unconfessed sin. Biblical Counseling is about change into the image of Christ, and therefore it must start with admitting that a person is wrong in their sins. Only when a person begins to take the necessary steps to remove sin from their life, and begin the process of becoming more like Christ can true change take place.
(I) The Results of Not Confessing: Before we look specifically at what the Scriptures teach us about confessing our sins to one another, I want to take a moment to look into the life of a man who sinned and would not confess his sins. Today, many Christians minimalize the need to confess and forsake their sins before the Lord, not understanding the serious offense that sin is against a holy and righteous God. God says in Habakkuk 1:13, “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You can not look on wickedness with favour.” If our God cannot look upon evil, how can one who is a child of God go on actively living in a lifestyle of sin? The fact is, he cannot. Sin that is addressed and confronted in a believer’s life must also be confessed and forsaken.
The great King David of Israel, the man after God’s own heart, experienced what it was like to sin grievously against God and yet refuse to confess his sins. After his sin of adultery with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11:1-5) and his subsequent organized murder of Uriah (2 Sam. 11:14-25) David attempted to live before God as if nothing happened. But God would not allow for this. Because David was His child, God would cause Him to be in restless agony until he confessed his sins.
In Psalm 32, David writes, thanking the Lord for forgiving him of his sins, but also remembering the effect that unconfessed sin has upon the life of the believer. He says in verses 3-4, “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.” The man who is the Lord’s and who does not confess his sins will be under the heavy hand of God. God will often use different means to chastise His children and He will often allow those who will not confess their sins to go through intense times of suffering so that they will break away from their sin and turn back to Him. The Lord lays His hand heavy upon a person in this time because it is for their ultimate good. David writes in verse 5 about the great kindness of the Lord saying, “I acknowledged my sin to You; and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”; and You forgave the guilt of my sin.” The reason that confession is so important is because when sin is confessed and forsaken there is always great forgiveness with God!
In the book of Hebrews, and in chapter 12 we see the author writing about the fact that believers will face the discipline of the Lord in their lives because of their sins. Suffering and discipline in the life of a believer comes from our Lord to teach us and grow us. It shows us the love that the Lord has for us, as He breaks our reliance upon ourselves and our sins and causes us to put our trust in Christ. When we stray from Christ and live in sin, the Lord will discipline us. In verse 10b – 11 the author tells us the ultimate reason why the Lord disciplines us. He says, “…but He disciplines us for our good, so that we might share in His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
The Lord disciplines and chastises His children when they sin so that they may grow in holiness and bear the fruit of the righteousness of Christ Jesus. The discipline of the Lord should drive the child of God to come to the end of Himself. The saint who is suffering for this must therefore confess and (repent of) his sins in order to be restored to a right and open relationship with his Lord. The result of living in unconfessed sin could lead to the severe discipline of the Lord as Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 11 where, “…many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.” It is a challenge for us to examine ourselves daily, but it must be done so as to ensure a faithful walk with God and man.