“The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works.”
-Augustine of Hippo
So how did Confession get on the list? Let’s review the definition of a Spiritual Discipline.
An activity in our power that we do to enable us to do what we cannot do by direct effort.
We are not able by direct effort to come into the light and be set free from besetting sin apart from opening up our mouths and speaking from our hearts to another our sin.
Remember the words of Bonhoeffer in the video: “A man who confesses his sins in the presence of a brother knows that he is no longer alone with himself; he experiences the presence of God in the reality of the other person. As long as I am by myself in the confession of my sins everything remains in the dark, but in the presence of a brother the sin has to be brought into the light.”
There is simply no way by our own effort apart from the Discipline of Confession we can leave the dark, the light is only available through the confessional of fellowship between two. The discipline of Confession also helps us to avoid sin.
Now the actual confessing to another is not the hard part of this process. It is finding the person that has the empathy and understanding necessary. From looking at the church landscape these days I sense that this is more difficult to do than one would think. I say this because sin seems to be not spoken of to the degree necessary within our fellowships these days. It’s joined in with the f word , n word category and become the s word. If sin is marginalized in the life of the flock then empathy and understanding of someones sin will be lost in translation with little appreciation for repentance and forgiveness. Repentance and forgiveness from what?
So here we have a challenge that you and I can be a solution for. In your fellowship begin to talk to others about the sin in general in your life, facilitate bringing it back to the forefront of the reality of our lives that Jesus died for. Share with others there need for confession of their within fellowship and encourage them to meet with you for a time to talk about sin and confess it.
Can you see and understand what unconfessed sin does to your fellowship. It keeps you in a dark place, not REALLY knowing anyone deeply enough to care for and love them. Resulting in a time on Sunday morning like an IN and OUT burger. IN to listen to the message filled for an few hours then OUT the door to resume a life of mediocrity and darkness. Is this not the definition of insanity?
As I write this the Holy Spirit is convicting me even more to stress to you the lynch pin this discipline is for real fellowship within our flocks. No one really has a chance to know anyone in a church of any moderate size apart from the discipline of Confession occurring in a vibrant way within the flock. Even a small group will not accomplish this that does not value the discipline of Confession and a understanding of sin.
So in closing I sense encouraging you to engage in the Discipline of Confession first requires you to survey the atmosphere of your fellowship, listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit then acting in the power He has given you to bring about the needed change in regard to the awareness of sin and the role the Discipline of Confession plays in really caring and really loving others.
I also pray you are as convicted as I have been in writing this and know you are not alone. I am praying for you and as always please post your comments or progress reports on Holy Spirit initiatives you have undertaken.