A Prayer for Authenticity, Grace and Confession

Many books have been written of the topic of biblical community, but I find that one element is often overlooked: confession. The reason is that confession is hard to do. It feels risky. In a grace-less world that rewards only strength and success, confession of weakness or failure seems foolish. We become quite adept at covering up, minimizing and working around our sin. Confession calls us to stop and hold our sin up for others to see. It can be a messy process, but I am convinced that confession leads to spiritual health and transformation.

When it comes to confession, I have heard people say things such as, “God forgives my sins. I don’t need to tell you what they are.” Yet, it is hard to overlook what scripture says on this. James 5:16 says:

Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”

This is not a suggestion. It’s something we are commanded to do. True biblical community practices confession of sin in order to be obedient to Jesus. This verse also tells us we confess to people we can trust in community.

“Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”

Most of us fear that confession of our sins will somehow be used to condemn us. While that is certainly possible, gospel-centered community is fueled by the grace of Jesus. True Biblical community seeks to restore your soul through the practice of confession and repentance.

When James connects the acts of confession to one another and prayer for one another, he is showing us the kind of community that we are called to be. The weight of our sins is heavy, and it is too much for us to carry around. As we confess, it’s as though our friends are reaching up and lifting the weight off of our backs to remove the burden. They pray for us—for our faith in the gospel that says we are forgiven because of Jesus, for our relationship with God to be renewed, for the Holy Spirit to bear spiritual fruit in us, for the Evil One to have no influence in our lives. There is nothing like being surrounded by people who love you and who pray for you in the midst of your struggles.

This verse also gives us the purpose of confession.

“Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”

Someone might say, “Jesus has taken away my sins, so why would you want to bring them out into the open?” The answer is easy – so that you may be healed. Sin digs deep roots in our hearts and continues to bear bad fruit in our lives. Confession provides the way to deal with the roots of sin. The promise of James 5 is that confession helps to heal the wounds of sin in us so that we can grow to be more like Jesus. If you want to find healing, confession in gospel-centered community is the path to get there.

Confession of one sinner to other sinners allows us to see the redemption story of God’s grace at work in each of our lives. We can celebrate the goodness of Jesus to use broken and weak men for his purposes. We challenge one another to depend more deeply on the Gospel and learn more completely how to live in light of it.

Would you pray that we would be a church where confession is normal, where grace is abundant, where struggle is OK, where sin is fought against, where people are authentic?

This post was written by Jeff Lawrence, Lead Pastor at Redemption Church.