Why does God require us to do it? Does He want to rub our noses in our mistakes? Make us feel guilt and shame for what we’ve done? Or does He enjoy putting salt in our wounds?
Oh, these are good questions. Excellent questions. Real questions.
I’ve asked these questions several times over the course of my life. In my defiance. In my embarrassment. And even in my shame.
And then I discovered the freedom found in confession. You heard me right. Freedom.
Every week it’s my job to gather the trash, put it in the trash bins, and roll them down to the end of the driveway for the trash collector to haul away. As I move from room to room, I’m routinely struck by how distinctly different each room’s trash is: bedroom trash, bathroom trash, laundry room trash, office trash, and kitchen trash. And yet, they all contain the same thing—TRASH.
Now I doubt any of us looks forward to taking out the trash. It’s a stinky, messy job where we’re forced to face the chaos we’ve created and things we’ve broken. However, it IS a good thing when that junk is no longer cluttering our space and providing a tripping hazard for us. When it’s no longer infusing our home with nauseous odors and harboring harmful bacteria. And when it’s no longer starting us in the face, blatantly reminding us of our past.
Imagine for a moment what our homes would look like if we never took out the trash; if it was never hauled away; if we allowed it to accumulate and build up. Got that picture secure in your mind?
Before we knew it, we’d be living in a cesspool of rot and decay! A hoarder’s house would be neat and tidy in comparison.
Office trash is benign, but kitchen trash—that stuff is nasty! Food scraps and raw meat packages are gross in their own right, but they have nothing on the mold-infested leftovers in the back of the fridge. You know the ones—they’re growing a secret garden with a kaleidoscope of colors; they’re in a sealed container you’d rather sacrifice than dare open.
Or my personal favorite—reaching into the produce drawer to snatch an apple only to find my fingers sinking into some unrecognizable, mushy, goo oozing from the nether regions of the drawer. *shudder
Do you get the picture?
So despite the unpleasantness of the job, it’s fair to say taking out the trash is crucial to our well-being, safety, and quality of life.
Those daily sins (ie.—lying, pride, greed, lust, selfishness, jealousy, gossip, vanity, etc.) accumulate and create a toxic heart and mind if not dealt with regularly. We need to bring them to God before they can weigh us down and cause nauseous behaviors that take over our life, compromising our witness, and keeping us from being effective for God’s Kingdom.
Paul tells us “everyone has sinned.” I know that includes me and if you’re part of everyone, that includes you too. And because of the sin in our lives, “we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Ro. 3:23). And the only way to achieve that standard is to confess our sin, accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and follow Him in our day-to-day life.
When we take time to confess our sin, it’s like stuffing an empty trash bag with all our garbage, fears, and concerns. This takes intentionality and a wiliness to get your hands dirty, like me loading up the trash bins every week. As I gather thrash and purge out the fridge, I have to acknowledge what’s in there and let it go, as we do with our sin.
Then once everything is in the bag, we place it and everything it contains in God’s hands to haul away. Unlike the garbage truck which transports our trash to the nearest landfill where it can be dug up and examined later, God carries our sin as far as the east is from the west (Ps. 103:12).
What does this mean?
Picture a globe. You can travel north only so far until you eventually start going South. However, if you’re traveling East as far as you can go, you’ll never go West—you’ll keep spinning on your axis. Furthermore, God incinerates our trash. He blots out our sin and doesn’t remember it (Is. 43:25).
Not only that but once all that trash is gone, it leaves room for the Spirit to move and work. To continue to change us and make us more like our Savior. Without all that clutter in the way, He can get into the closets, storage areas, and under the bed. He can get into those dark recesses of our heart, soul, and mind where we’re harboring pet sins such as drunkenness, porn addiction, sexual sin, substance abuse, lust for power and money. And He can also illuminate sins we may not be even aware of such as arrogance, slothfulness, resentfulness, and unforgiveness.
Once we’ve purged all that junk from our lives, which may take the help of a trained counselor, we have so much more room to work with. Like when we purge the storage areas of our homes, dorm rooms, or offices. We’re free and unhindered in our daily lives and ministries. We’re free to love and care for others genuinely. We are free to grow and bear spiritual fruit. We’re free to allow our hearts to be broken by the same things that break Jesus’s heart because we’re more intuned to Him. And we are free to follow His leading to take action.
Beloved, that’s the big deal with confession. It’s for our blessing and freedom.