A Journey to Becoming a Woman of Faith

A Season for: Confession

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If you looked at your calendar yesterday, you would most likely have noticed that Wednesday, February 17, 2021 is referred to as Ash Wednesday. Although many Christian denominations have special services on this day (though this may be a bit different in a Covid world), many Christians don’t really understand why this is on their calendar and what it means. Coming from a protestant denomination which doesn’t formally observe this practice, I decided to embark on a bit of study to discover what it was all about and found myself deep into a study of some of the less talked about spiritual disciplines. These practices can not only deepen our walk with the Lord but also have a profound effect on all our relationships! Join me as we spend the next few weeks in this blog taking a look at some Biblical teachings on some spiritual disciplines that when applied can quite possibly change your life!

Traditionally, Ash Wednesday, is the beginning of a season called Lent which is the 40 days (excluding Sundays) leading up to Easter (Resurrection Sunday). During this time, those who practice the tradition of Lent, give up something (fast) as a sign of repentance and commitment to God. The Ash Wednesday focus is on the reality of our humanity: our sin and our mortality and is centered around the solemn realization of our need to confess our sin before a Holy God. While the Bible does not talk about specific ceremonies or use the terms Ash Wednesday or Lent, the Bible certainly gives a clear call to both confession and fasting as regular disciplines for the Christ follower.

Let’s start with Confession. Truthfully, this is a worthy place to start when talking about spiritual disciplines because the practice of confession puts us in the correct position before a Holy God. You see, our relationship with God is based on our understanding of our sinfulness. Isaiah 59:2 explains that our sin has made a separation between us and God. Romans 3:10–18 gives the depth of our fallen humanity. After we understand how deeply we have sinned against God, this is where confession comes in. Confession is an important part of our spiritual experience because it keeps us in our place and God in His. The result of confession is the blessing of forgiveness. The Psalmist David describes what it looks like in Psalm 32: 1-5.

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
    whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
    and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
    my strength was dried up[b] as by the heat of summer. Selah

I acknowledged my sin to you,
    and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
    and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. 

Forgiveness has been and always will be at the heart of our relationship with God. He longs to forgive and we need forgiveness. God’s forgiveness is based on His great love for us and that was demonstrated most perfectly at the cross!  

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8)

While Jesus died once and for all on the cross for all iniquity and forgives us of all our sins past, present and future at the moment of salvation, the practice of confession on a regular basis is truly “good for the soul”. As David writes in Psalm 51 after confessing his sin with Bathsheba, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me….Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” (51:10-12) Confession is healing, redemptive, restorative and essential for a maturing relationship with God!

Yet, we can’t talk about confession without also talking about repentance. Repentance is a turning away from, doing an about face and going the other way. In other words, confessing our sins is incomplete without repentance. We can’t just feel bad about our sin, we need to repent and turn away from the sin we are confessing. The practice of confession makes us more conscious of our sins and causes us to embrace the reality of God’s forgiveness more fully. As we understand the magnitude of what it means to be forgiven (my sins were paid for by the blood of Jesus) then repentance is the natural response!

Private confession is a personal experience between man and God. In fact, Jesus’ death and resurrection made it possible for us to approach God without need of a mediator (I Tim. 2:5). We are able to come to God and He is “faithful and just” to forgive (I John 1:9) because Jesus is our “advocate” (I John 2:1). While confession is certainly a private practice, it is also a cooperate experience. When we read James 5:16, the direction to confess our sins to one another makes this crystal clear. Confession is an important part of Christian community and should lead us to powerful praying where we see people healed, set free and restored.

In Richard J. Foster’s classic book a Celebration of Discipline he writes, “The Discipline of confession brings an end to pretense. God is calling into being a Church that can openly confess its frail humanity and know the forgiving and empowering graces of Christ. Honesty leads to confession, and confession leads to change! ”

As we enter into this season of preparation for the glorious day where we celebrate Christ’s resurrection, may we start with remembering our humanity, our brokenness. Confession is a good practice to keep us in the place of humility before a Holy God. Yes, it should be a solemn time, but on the other hand, it must also be a celebration of the incredible FORGIVENESS that is ours because of what Christ has done!

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