I've always known that the Bible calls us to confess our sins, but if I'm being honest, I have rarely done this. Well, that's not true, I do confess. But, I'm more likely to confess things like "I'm not reading the Bible enough".... or "I am too selfish"... or "I've fooled around with guys more than I should have".
And nothing is wrong with these confessions.
Only that I'm not confessing anything. I'm being vague or choosing to only confess the things that aren't that bad.
But lately, that's been changing for me.
A few weeks ago at Sublime, I started talking to a group of girls- and before I even realized it, I confessed one of my darkest sins. I mean, it's a biggie. And before that moment, no one knew. I mean, no one (who would hold me accountable spiritually) knew. I had managed to only let people know who wouldn't consider the spiritual ramifications of my choices. I had never told anyone that would want to know how God felt about it.
The sin that I confessed had been worked out with God. He and I had already dealt with it, but I had never invited anyone else into that process.
The coolest thing about that moment with those senior girls is that God totally used my sin to teach them something big. My honesty in that moment helped them understand the spiritual ramifications of sin like mine. He used my confession to bring glory to Himself. Only God can take the bad and work it together for his good- and ultimately, my good.
What I learned in that moment is that confessing my sin doesn't result in condemnation (assuming you're confessing to Godly people). In fact, it was the opposite. The girls were able to hear my mistakes and be so relieved to know that I'm a "real" sinner too. I recently heard someone explain the difference between conviction (from the holy spirit) and condemnation (from people). Condemnation says that YOU are something bad. Conviction says you DID something bad. A small difference but a huge difference.
Confessing my sin doesn't mean that I can no longer be influential. In fact, more of the opposite. He used my confession to make a bigger impact on those girls than I ever could have if I had just been quoting scripture or passing on information. My friend Denise is a Christian author and speaker- and a few years ago, her marriage tragically ended in divorce. She decided to take a year off from writing and speaking to kinda collect her thoughts, but then came back a year later to speak at a church. Then God called her to speak about marriage. Of course, she was SO annoyed that God would do such a thing- she had just gotten divorced! And, in His small and mighty way, he asked her if she still believed in marriage. And of course, she did! And God told her, your mistakes do not have baring on my truths. My truth is STILL truth no matter how many times you mess it up. When Denise shared this with me, I thought I understood. But, now that I have lived- and confessed- I understand it to a level that I never thought possible. God's truth is STILL truth- no matter how badly I have blown it.
Once I confessed the one time, it made me know that I could do it again. The next night I sat down with one of my best friends- and confessed a slew of sins that needed confessing. And once again, there was no condemnation and I didn't lose my ability to be influential.
I'm not saying that I'm gonna start telling everyone all of my mistakes, but for the first time REALLY in my life, I truly understand the healing that James is talking about when he says, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." (James 5:16).
God is a healer in so many ways, but right now, for me, he's healing me through my own obedience to confess.