Confession is a word that really needs to be reclaimed in our Christian circles. It has come to mean so many things that were never intended, that it is hard to unravel all the extra baggage. I will try to do that in several shorter posts rather than one long one.
But the over-arching idea is this:
Fundamentally, confession is a soul-felt response, born out of an awareness that something on our heart is so important it needs to be said out loud to God and others; Confession is not a way to initiate some kind of transaction.
At its worst, people are sometimes “led to Christ” in such a way that they are asked to read a prayer (or say it in their own words) which effectively says, “God, I’m saying the right words now that I’m supposed to confess in order to get your free gift of heaven. Forgive me for me sins and thank you for giving me eternal life. Amen.” They are then assured that since they said that prayer, they are good to go.
It makes my heart break. Because they have been given an incantation to recite, and not really pointed to any path that leads to life. Yes, some people actually do find God from this kind of introduction. But it is in spite of the “help” and not because of it. Many, I fear, are not only still lost, but with a counterfeit certificate of guarantee that says they no longer need to be found.
But when a person truly sees their need for God and His tremendous love for them, when they discover the treasure hidden in a field and their heart leaps at the hope of living life with God, both now and forever — then they speak with their mouth the words that cannot be contained!
“Save me, Father, from myself! Forgive my ignorance and emptiness and all the ways I missed the mark! Take me to be one of Your Children, and teach me to listen to Your heart and Your voice and to follow You all the days of my life!”
Now that is a real confession!