“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9
I confessed my sins in secret. I didn’t spend a lot of time on it and didn’t see the importance. 1 John states the results of confession – forgiveness and purification from unrighteousness. But what if we don’t confess our sins? What happens then?
My life was an example of unconfessed sin and incorporated shame. My exposure to pornography and an unwanted sexual experience at an early age warped my view of my value to God and my ability to confess sin. I didn’t believe that confession to God or to others was possible. I thought my sin was more, different, and unforgivable. Sin and temptation meant judgment, not confession or grace.
Unconfessed sin rotted me from the inside. I had no true compass. I developed two selfs, my inner self and my outer self. My outer self is who I wanted to be, who I wanted the world to see, who I wanted my wife to see. I believed that if she ever saw my inner self, she wouldn’t stay with me. So I didn’t allow that to happen. Confession remained unthinkable.
Confession isn’t something I entered of my own will. I was exposed. My unconfessed sin was found out. I had a choice – continue hiding my true self alone or confess. Confession for me came with no guarantees. I didn’t know if my marriage would survive.
Confession did transform me. I turned over my inner self to God, something I hadn’t done before. Confessing to him meant opening myself to others as well. I started with my counselor, then my accountability partners, then my wife. My choices caused great harm to so many. My confession gave them hope that I could give my life to God to redeem me.
Obedience to God’s command to confess my sins to Him and to others led to overt examples of His unending grace. My wife heard my confession. She was damaged by my sin. She had hope because of my confession. My obedience allowed her to see that I could be honest and transparent with her. My willingness to disclose and to validate with a polygraph examination allowed her to see that I had been honest with God and had confessed to Him, seeking forgiveness and grace.
Life today doesn’t look perfect. My wife and I have a relationship unlike any time in our twenty-eight years of marriage. We reveal our flaws and our struggles to each other. The damage I have caused her through my violation of her trust and our marriage vows hasn’t miraculously disappeared. We practice honesty, though. Daily. We confess to God and to each other. We confess our shortcomings and celebrate His grace.