Sin is ugly and an embarrassing thing to reveal in ourselves. It shows the depths of our imperfection and wretchedness, and being honest about it can bring on the pangs of death. All of us want to be viewed for our goodness—the places where we get it right and not where we get it wrong. But this notion that we are never wrong or mistaken is deceitful and destructive. To refuse to be honest about our sin is to refuse to agree with God that there has never been and will never be a perfect person besides Jesus.
Confession leads to death because confession kills the sinful part of your life that used to lay claim to it. Confession buries your sin with Christ and removes it as far as the east is from the west (Ps. 103:12). It is through confession that we can identify ourselves with the death of Christ and let him put to death the things of this world.
Confession reveals not only our sinfulness but God’s righteousness. Refusing to confess our sins to those we love is refusing to allow them to see the hand of God at work in our lives. Confession is good for the soul and bad for sin. In fact, sin cannot stand confession. It turns the lights on, exposes it, and cleans things up. Confession is essential in the life of faith, and without it our innocence is suspect.
Our failure to confess makes us all liars (1 John 1:8). While the fear of confession promises us that to confess is to be exposed and vulnerable, the truth is that to confess is to stand in agreement with God. So the way to innocence is by admitting guilt. Wow! And there you have another upside-down gospel moment. God came to save not the righteous, but sinners, to give sinners their righteousness while those who believe they are righteous because of how good they are become forever guilty.
There is in all of us the knowledge that no one is perfect; so where we fail to see confession we see hypocrisy, and where we see hypocrisy we are unimpressed if not turned off altogether. In the family of faith confession is essential not only to our forgiveness but also to our relationships. While confession feels like overwhelming guiltiness, it is actually overwhelming innocence.