Confession as a Christian discipline has a bad reputation these days. We acknowledge our right to communicate directly with God : “there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Similarly we shun the legalism of confessing either because we have to or as the only means to be forgiven.
Sin is not just doing something ‘bad’ per se. Sin is the thing that breaks the relationship between man and God. Foster, in his book ‘Celebration of Discipline’ constantly reinforces to all Christians the challenge of putting their relationship with Jesus first.
My fears are universal I think: I do not wish to broadcast my failures and shortcomings to others. My brain is very clever however. By remaining mute and unspecific about my actions, I can conveniently forget what I’ve done and justify away any consequences.
Keen to try all aspects of the disciplines Foster writes about, I started with my attitude toward my sinful behaviour. Am I genuinely sorry for having caused a rift in my relationship with God? Am I determined to avoid doing so again?
Then, to a trusted friend and Christian brother, I named specific sins, out loud. Attitudes of the “heart” (such as pride, anger, sloth, gluttony etc) are equal with “things done” when it comes to dealing with sin.
My confessor enunciated that God forgives me (we have the authority : “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven”)
What a wonderful freedom to be set free from guilt and shame. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” To walk more closely with Jesus is to experience life being fully loved and better able to love others. The challenge remains to continually place God first.
5 The discipline of Study
6 The discipline of Fasting