When we don’t confess our sins to the Lord and one another, physical things can happen in our life and we can get sick. People have heart attacks, high blood pressure, and ulcers because of unconfessed sins, undisclosed faults, or chronic guilt. But when we get it out to the Lord and we get it out to others, things change.
How does God respond to our confession? With anger or wrath? No. God’s response to our confession is faithful and righteous forgiveness. He will cleanse you of your sin!
How does our trash make it to the street? In some households we pull out the trash bag from underneath the sink and before we tie it up, we make sure there is nothing else that needs to go in it. Then we tie it and put it away outside the garage, waiting for one of the kids to pick it up and take it to the can. Hopefully, a squirrel won’t rip it to find something to eat and leave the rest all over the place. When it finally makes it into the can, the garbage men come and pick it up. So it is from under the sink to the kitchen floor, from the floor to the garage, from the garage to the can, and finally from the can to the truck.
How does your horizontal confession work? “You know, I’m sorry if you felt like I said that in a way that was inappropriate.” You just moved it to the kitchen floor. “Maybe I hurt your feelings, but I didn’t mean...” — we just moved it to the garage. “God, sure you’re right on that, but everybody does it.” We have moved it outside, but we haven’t yet taken care of our sin. We just moved it a little bit further. Until it blows up and now it is a mess that it didn’t need to be. And, finally, the can is emptied.
On the vertical side, let me tell you what Jesus does. He will take the trash away from underneath the sink of your heart straight to the dump at the bottom of the cross instantaneously. Jesus is faithful and righteous to cleanse us from all our sin. Our forgiveness is based on His faithfulness and righteousness. Our response a lot of times to each other is retribution, but God’s response to us is forgiveness and cleansing of all sin.