If we want to experience change in our life habits that are unhealthy and sinful, we need to learn to embrace the practice of confession. This sermon gives a clear path for entering into this little-adopted habit of the Christian faith.
The philosopher Camus once said “We get into the habit of living before we acquire the habit of thinking.” Before we begin thinking about the consequences of our choices or actions, we have already developed a series of patterns that shape how we live. The little choices we make have a huge impact upon our lives. We start out making choices but then our choices make us.
Deuteronomy 30:19 reads, “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life …” or as Sirach 15:16 says, “He has placed before you fire and water; stretch out your hand for whichever you choose.” While it might seem obvious that we should choose life and water, the habits of our life that we build over time often shape us in such a way that we opt for death or fire. Then we end up doing things that we don’t want to do and we don’t do the things that we want to do, as Paul stated in Romans 7.
How then do we work out of this pattern? Part of the answer is confession. James 5:16 states that confession heals us. Suppressing our sins actually can impact how our bodies feel (Ps. 32:3). Confession is the antidote to living in a chronic state of lying to ourselves because it causes us to soften so that we can be reshaped.
However, we may believe we are confessing, when we are actually only using imposters for confession. For instance, “I’m sorry” is actually an emotion of sorrow, but it is not an actual confession. “I’m a terrible person” is a self-punishment, not confession, and “I’m a sinner” is a perspective about oneself.
A good confession comes in three basic parts. First, we remove abstractions and refuse to get distracted by global statements that are judgements about ourselves or that excuse our behavior. Secondly, we get detailed. Getting specific about sin gives us the power to actually address what lies beneath the action. The third step is to seek out the “whys.” We need to understand the motivation for the behaviors that are sinful.
Confession is a lifestyle of truth-telling about ourselves. It’s about being aware of our whole selves so that we can live as we are, in both our weaknesses and strengths. We do this together as a community, for when we live in confession with each other, we are freed to experience healing and honest community with each other.
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