I am amazed at how we twist Scripture to accommodate what we want it to say rather than what it really says. One of the areas I see this is in the area of confession of sin. There is an erroneous teaching in our churches that sinners are to confess their sins to each other. That is not a scriptural principle. In fact, there is no evidence in the scripture that tells us that we are to be confessing our sins in public forums. The Bible tells us that we are to confess our faults one to one another. If you look at Galatians 6:1 the Bible talks about being overcome with a fault. A fault is a general weakness in our moral fiber that caused us to fall. We are to confess the fault but we are not told to detail our actual sins. The Bible does tell us to confess our sins to God because he’s faithful to do something about them. Let me give you what I think the Bible really teaches on this subject.
Only God is faithful, so only God can be trusted with the details of our sins. Telling secrets to other people is dangerous because people can betray us. I’m not suggesting we live in distrust of people but I am suggesting that people will sometimes betray our trust and reveal our sins. I have seen more lives destroyed because people were told what a person did then because of the sin the person actually committed. Only God can be trusted with such detailed confessions.
We are to strengthen one another in the areas of faults. For example, if a man has a problem with his morals he needs to confess his weakness or his fault to others but he doesn’t need to specifically confess his sins to them. That’s Catholic theology. That’s not Bible. We confess our sins to God; We confess our faults to one another. God gives us cleansing; man gives us support and strength. The purpose of confessing our faults is not to release the pressure by confiding in man. It’s not getting it off our chest or off our conscience. In fact that is counterproductive. The purpose of confessing our fault is to get strength and support. It’s accountability. It is a dangerous thing how so many feel the need to expose the acts of others sin to the church specifically rather than generally. When you expose sins or secrets you are putting people at risk both to carry that secret properly as well as bringing irreparable damage to the parties involved. If a man has committed adultery, then he needs to be open and honest about committing adultery but that doesn’t mean he confesses the specifics of his sins to the church. I don’t believe he should. God may reveal the specifics as he did with many characters in the Bible. David confessed his sins to God but God exposed them to us in Scripture. By the way, only God has that right. Sometimes exposing our sins is God’s way to get us to face the truth. However, no place in the Bible do we have a man confessing publicly his specific sins.
Dealing with the sin is like dealing with the symptoms. Dealing with fault, he’s dealing with the problem. The fault is the disease, and sin is the result of the fault. We are not overcome in any sin. We are overcome in a fault. It is the sin that overcomes us but, it does so inside of our fault. Therefore, confessing our sin does not accomplish the same as confessing the fault. We do not need to be talking about the sin in others. We need to be talking about the fault.
The Bible specifically tells us not to talk about those things which are done in secret. We are supposed to keep the sins of people as a secret. We need to be discussing things that solve the problem. Don’t misunderstand me, there are avenues to deal with sin. However public forums are not the place for this. Sin must be dealt with by the proper authorities. Sadly we live in a day where people want to know how their leaders are dealing with people’s sins. It is none of their business. It is no more their business to know what the pastor does in the privacy of dealing with centers, that it is not for the public to know what the judge considers in the privacy of his chambers. We may see the result but we do not need to be discussing the center.
We are more interested in discussing sin because sin offends us more. It is not a matter of dealing with what offends us. It is a matter of dealing with what hurts the individual. By dealing with their fault we are dealing with the real problem. To confess our sins to each other is merely to discuss something to get it off their chest. It will not fix the real problem which is the fault.
You may need to discuss your sin with someone who can help you deal with the consequences of your scent. That is certainly understandable. However, be careful to whom you confess your sins; often times it will come back to haunt you. I hate to say this. I have learned that very few people can be trusted with secrets. When I say very few I mean very few pastors included. Unfortunately, because they are human they are prone to say things they shouldn’t say. Pastors are as guilty of exposing secrets as anyone else. Be careful about exposing your sins. If you want to confess your faults, that’s a good idea but be cautious when confessing your sins to anyone other than God for only He can be trusted to be faithful always.