"...that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."
Confession has always seemed a little strange to me. I understand I need Christ’s forgiveness and the Bible says I should confess my sins to God, but I've always been unsure of what that really looks like. I ask God to forgive my sins, knowing I sin daily, but it isn't like I outright murder or have an affair. Big sins need to be confessed individually, but little ones can be confessed generally, right? I don't commit big sins very often.
Over time, God has been changing my outlook bit by bit. First, He showed me there really isn’t much difference between “big” and “little” sins. Maybe I didn’t lie in bed with a man, but that doesn't mean I didn’t break the seventh commandment by thinking about him inappropriately. I may not have buried an axe in my “enemy’s” head, but that doesn't mean I didn’t break the sixth commandment by hating him or her instead of showing God's love. Also, “the wages of sin is death...” (Romans 6:23a), which means no matter how “big” or “little” my sin, the penalty is the same: death.
Second, He started showing me that being self-deprecating wasn’t the same as being humble. Christ didn’t practice humility by being self-deprecating. He “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8b) May I have that kind of humility in obedience to God! My self-deprecation only led to guilt and depression.
Third, this definition of humility began to bring out just how prideful I really am. In fact, my sins in general started becoming far more apparent. I had recognized my selfishness and my worry, but my pride - which bred fear, worry, selfishness, depression, and need to control and manipulate - had disguised itself well in my own deceitful heart. “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
Fourth, and recently, He is beginning to bring about a new understanding of confession in me. I have previously experienced the healing confessing my sins to Him can bring. A youth pastor once made the analogy that with each sin, we place another brick in a wall between us and our holy Creator. Until we confess those sins and are bestowed with His gracious forgiveness, we separate ourselves from Him and His grace.
Now that I can more readily recognize my own sin, I am confronted with the ability - and need - to confess those sins specifically, and to ask His forgiveness for them. To have a relationship with God, I cannot just ask for a general forgiveness of all of my sins and leave it there. That isn’t personal, and it robs from Him of the opportunity to give the gift of His Son to me - the One who died and rose again to conquer the very sin I am confessing. That, in turn, robs me of the joy of the Lord.
I discovered the same word “confess” is used to describe admitting our sin as is used in professing Christ. God showed me confessing my sin is confessing Christ. I confess I am a sinner and cannot atone for my own sin and need a savior. Thus, I confess I am a follower of Christ, who took my sins upon Himself - even though He was blameless - and paid the penalty for them (death), and rose again to conquer even death and prepare a place for me to join Him in that everlasting life.
He did - and is doing - so much for me! How can I be anything but thankful? So I am thankful for confession, for the amazing gift to be able to give over my sins and profess Christ, my Savior. This is where the healing begins. Have you humbled yourself before Christ lately, confessed to Him, and experienced the joy of His forgiveness?