Recently the director of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, resigned following the disclosure of some costly taxpayer-funded private jet rides. The day before he submitted his resignation I happen to catch an interview that he was doing on Fox News. Sec. Price was making all kinds of excuses for his actions. Not only was he making excuses but he was minimizing the importance of his example in running up somewhere close to half million dollars in flight charges that we as taxpayers must pay. His offer to pay back just a small portion of those flight charges did little to relieve the damage he had done. Our politicians and so many in leadership roles in our society are good at minimizing their responsibility and blame shifting. So I was glad to see someone actually held responsible for his actions and removed from his office as a result of these expensive abuses. Usually, there are so many excuses and blame-shifting, and no one gets fired. But nothing ever changes if people are not held responsible for their actions.
I believe in our spiritual lives, it shouldn’t be this way. In fact, the apostle John in his first epistle tells us, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”, (1 John1:8-9, NKJV). One of the most important things we can do in our spiritual lives is to have honest confession before God and before one another. When the Holy Spirit of God speaks to our heart about some area of conviction in our lives, and we excuse it and don’t call it sin, we harden our hearts just a little bit. Each time we do this our heart gets a little harder until finally we don’t hear the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to us any longer because our hearts have become so calloused and hardened.
That is why confession is such a critical part of our spiritual journey. The word translated “confess” in verse 9 is the Greek word “homologeo” which means to acknowledge a fact publicly, often in reference to previous bad behavior. It is much more than simply admitting something because we got caught. It is speaking from a contrite heart and agreeing with God about our sins. It is a recognition of one’s sinfulness and a humbling of oneself before God. This idea of confession is seen in James’ epistle when he writes, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (5:16 NKJV). This passage connects physical illness with the need for honest confession to one another.
Remember John was writing about fellowship and how to maintain fellowship with God and with one another. So, honest confession is very significant in maintaining fellowship in both of these areas. There is a cleansing that happens when we confess our sins to one another and God. Think of David’s great contrition when he was confronted by Nathan concerning his sin with Bathsheba.
I’ve often wondered how human history would have been different if Adam, following his sin with Eve in the garden, had made a different response. What would have happened if Adam, instead of running and hiding from God, had instead run to God and fallen on his face before God and confessed his sin? Blame-shifting and excuses started with Adam’s words when he says, “It was the woman you gave to me!” Not only is he blaming Eve but he’s also implicating God for giving him the woman in the first place. The question is, where will it end? Will it end with us? Are we willing to come clean to God and with one another about our sins?
There is an amazing contrast between the proper way to confess and acknowledge sin and the wrong way to do so, which is found in the stories of King Saul and King David. In 1st Samuel 15, the story is told of God’s directive to King Saul to annihilate the people of Amalek. Saul refuses to do so, and when he is confronted by Samuel, he makes up all kinds of excuses. “We saved the best animals for sacrifice to God”, he states. He repeatedly states, “It was the people, they made me save the best”. Both of these are examples of excuses and blame shifting, much like our modern-day politicians. As a result of his sin his kingdom is taken from him. Later on in 2nd Samuel David falls into wicked sin with Bathsheba that results in her getting pregnant. He then arranges to have her husband, Uriah, killed at the hands of the Ammonites. From a human perspective, certainly David’s sin seems greater than Saul’s sin. Yet when David is confronted in 2 Samuel 12 by Nathan we read his confession, “I have sinned against the Lord”, (v.13a NIV). Notice there are no excuses or blame shifting, just a simple confession.
As a result of David’s simple and forthright confession he is forgiven. Now he dealt with consequences of his actions for the rest of his life, including the death of the first child born to that union, but his relationship with God was restored and God uses him in the future. In fact, David would go on to write two Psalms of public confession related to his sin, Psalm 32 and Psalm 51. I believe God can use anything in our lives for our growth and His glory if we are willing to agree with God about our sin. It’s when we make excuses and shift blame for our sin that we can lost everything that is precious to us. So, let us seek to practice true confession and repentance by agreeing with God about our sin. This is the way to true forgiveness from God and reconciliation and restoration in our relationships with others.
All for His Glory,
Pastor Rich Sivo