Just Confess It2
She was a godly, devoted woman who was well-loved by many. She taught Sunday School, served her family heroically and made people laugh from way down deep. Yet she fought addiction to alcohol for many years. I used to wonder why should could go for months, even years, without drinking only to make her way back to the behavior she hated. Gratefully, she spent her last 25 years free from alcohol abuse. But this came only after she started dealing roundly with the addiction within. She confessed to those she was most eager to please, risking the dearest relationships on earth. I was one of those people. And she is my mom. For the past fifteen years she’s lived a sinless, temptation-less life worshiping the One who set her free and One Day I will join her there. What a day that will be.
I recently read a blog post by an aching, frustrated wife who is involved in counseling women. She was lamenting why so many godly men have fallen into sexual sin. Just in the past two weeks I have learned of respected pastors who committed adultery and then filed for divorce, another who was suspended from leadership of his church due to setting up an Ashely Madison account, and yet another who was convicted of soliciting a prostitute. When I read the blog post that encouraged men (and women) to “just stop” my heart leapt with agreement. Too many people I know and love have been stabbed in the heart by the consequences of sexual sin. Too many women I’ve cared for over the years have reeled in the wake of molestation, rape, adultery, and lust of various kinds. And like never before women are living through the pain and shame of porn at the fingertips of the boys and men they love. And women also sin sexually and their men suffer, too.
Honestly, I’m angry. I’m asking God and others to help me discern what fraction of my anger is the righteous indignation of scripture. Yes, not all anger is sin. Yet I’m also feeling tender compassion for the sinners and their families. Like me, they remain in need of a Savior who forgives the repentant sinner even before we ask. “It is finished!” meant that every past, present and future sin committed by His own were forgiven once and for all.
But sin has consequences, and exposed sin results in deeper and more painful consequences than confessed sin. The fact is people who confess their sins rather than wait for them to be discovered do those they love a precious service.
The truth is we don’t get away with sin.
God sees to it that sin doesn’t stay hidden forever. We think we’re safe from exposure. Our self-deception lures us to really believe we won’t do it again, so why confess? We love the pleasures of sin more than we love those we’re betraying. “For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open” (Mark 4:22). The fact that something is hidden, in other words, means it will be found. God will see to it that your sin is revealed one way or another because he loves you.
The bloggers exhortation to “just stop it!” is the cry of every heart that has personally experienced or loved another through the aftermath of sexual betrayal. And the scriptures are clear: “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell” (Matthew 5: 2-30).
These verses are set in the context of Jesus creating a similarity — not a contrast — between lust and adultery. Yes, lusting is far more like adultery than we realize. Eyes and hands are how sexual sin gets started and Jesus is mincing no words. We are called to do whatever it takes to not participate in sexual sin, including cutting off the way it gets started, and keeping our eyes and hands to ourselves.
But when it happens, we are given a way of escape: confession. "Just stop it" is the right thing to do, but when sin becomes bondage the better exhortation is “Just confess it!” Once Mom knew her alcohol use had become a sinful bondage-turned-addiction she immediately started confessing and asking for help. The penitent sinner always confesses, first to God and then to others. The one who wants to keep a back door open to repeating his or her sin or is more eager to protect our reputation...and keep the deathly secret garden alive. And often the behavior isn’t the only thing hidden. The addict is often the last to know that shackles have put him or her into the clutches of bondage. After all, “I can stop this any time I want to. And I’ve already stopped over and over.” The reality is there are some sins that you can’t “just stop” on your own because addiction has set in and you don’t even know it.
Are you struggling with hidden sin? Are you starting to become anxious about the hold alcohol or porn or eating or shopping or nicotine or gambling has on you? Have you “stopped” again and again, only to return to your hidden habit? Are you afraid that if you confess you’ll lose the respect or loyalty of someone/some people you love?
Please. I’m asking you to Just Confess It. Don’t wait until God says “enough” and causes your hidden sin to “brought into the open.” Please. I’m asking you to prevent the knife from going deeper into the hearts of those you’ve betrayed when you selfishly force them to be the ones to discover what you’ve done or are doing. Please. I’m asking you to stop thinking this will be your last time…again. Do the right thing — the courageous and loving thing — and pick up the phone or write the email. Perhaps your first confession shouldn’t be to those who will be the most hurt by your sin. Maybe you should confess to a wise pastor, friend or family member so you can receive help to compassionately confess to those who mean the most and will be hurt the most by what you’ve done.
If you confess rather than wait for God to expose your sin you will give those you love a precious gift. They may not know right away how important this gift is, but exposed sin hurts more than confessed sin. I am forever grateful to Mom for the gift of her confession and to God for the miracle of forgiveness and change in her life that began when she loved us enough to do what was right.
“If we confess our sin he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Please just confess it.