Confession: The Holiness of The Habit
In confession there is freedom, and healing, and joy, but make no mistake, confession is hard work. Confession is one part of a journey that should lead us into becoming people who are more like Christ. True confession will bring about life change, and change can be hard.
In the Old Testament book of Ezra, the scribe (Ezra) is full of grief because of his people’s disobedience to God. The weight of grief was so heavy upon Ezra, it was painful. The Israelites, including priests and key leaders, had chosen to marry people who worshipped idols, and not the One True God. God’s holy people were living in an unholy way, and Ezra couldn’t hide his response.
“When I heard this, I tore my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled” (Ezra 9:3).
To our modern sensibilities, this whole chapter can feel odd and unfamiliar, but the principle remains. Confession is our response to unholy living, and turning to live a holy life is our response to the forgiveness we find in confession. Ezra’s raw confession led the people to brokenness over their sin, confession of their repentance, and ultimately a return to God.
Holy living is a response to being forgiven, not a condition of being forgiven.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth to correct a sin he saw in them. The church confessed their wrongdoing with great sorrow. Paul then said something unusual; he said this confession brought him great joy. Why would this bring joy to Paul?
“See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done” (2 Corinthians 7:11).
The confessed sorrow produced good fruit. No longer weighed by their failure, the people were able to follow God eagerly and earnestly. Confession frees us from the burden of holding on to our failures and allows us the freedom to make godly decisions moving forward. Unbridled from our regrets, we’re freed to focus on living a godly life.
Read Ezra 9 and 2 Corinthians 7 and remember that while confession may sting for a moment, the future joy outweighs the momentary pain.