Why should we be quick to confess?
As much as we hate to admit it, just saying “I’m sorry” isn’t enough. Confession is more than a mere apology and repentance is even more than just confession. We are often so preoccupied with being perceived as perfect that we fail to recognize sin and weaknesses, admit responsibility before God and man, and turn away from sin.
All of a Christian’s life is one of repentance.
— Martin Luther
For many, repentance is something they did once in order to become a Christian. In reality, it is far more than “step one.” Even though repentance is the cornerstone of Christian life, it often doesn’t typify our lives. A huge reason for our lack of repentance is that we fail at the first step: confessing our sin. This is to our own detriment though, because the step of genuine confession paves the way for Christian growth.
Real confession, as a step of genuine repentance, is evidence and growth of true maturity, strength, and humility. Genuine confession and repentance transform behavior and end up being a cornerstone in a greater witness to the watching world.
So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First, be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
— Matthew 5:23-24 (ESV, emphasis added)
When we are quick to confess and repent, maturity can grow. Growth in the Christian is not learning how to hide sin, ignore mistakes, or keep weaknesses tucked away in the corner. Maturity is readily exposing our sin and turning from it. Real confessions and apologies are more than just words; they are step one in a change of belief and action.
Growth will rarely happen while your sin remains hidden. Repentance can’t begin without admission and recognition of sin.
When we are quick to confess and repent, we are getting stronger. Our weakness tells us to hold onto pride, not risk reputation, not apologize, and keep mistakes hidden–or ignore them altogether. Being quick to confession ought to rid us of the need to obsessively maintain an air of perfection around ourselves. It will teach us to lean on our Savior’s strength, not our own.
When we are quick to confess and repent, we grow in humility. Developing a habit of being quick to repent and confess will often open us up to seeing our sinfulness more, driving us to our Savior. Verbalizing our sin and admitting fault drives nails into the heart of pride; it nurtures a moldable heart. Genuine confession reminds us of our need for the Gospel. Even more, it is step one in remembering that we have been set free from sin and it’s power (c.f. 1 John 1:9, Romans 6). Genuine confession is step one of presenting yourself as a slave to righteousness.
Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.
— Romans 6:13 (ESV)
All of these qualities (maturity, strength, humility) in us opens the door for a greater witness to our neighbors. Often, the first insult lobbed by critics of the Church is that the church is a crowd of proud hypocrites who never admit their own mistakes. This criticism is directly undercut by the life of a Christian who demonstrates a readiness to confess and repent.
If our confession and repentance are genuine, our lives will show God’s power to set us free from sin in front of a watching world through a greater maturity that leads to a greater witness.