Finding God's Winning Spirit

The Pros of Confession

February 28, 2014 | Greg Smith | Christianity


Confession is one of the most important, yet misunderstood, concepts in theology.  It is important because it is the first step in the salvation process (confession, justification and then sanctification).  It is also important because within confession we find two ingredients that are paramount to our relationship with God. The first is personal humility, and the second is, trusting God.  The first requires us to accept our sinfulness and the second requires that we have faith that God loves us in spite of this sinfulness.  Confession is also important because it is our part of the salvation process, which is to say, that confession is our way of responding to God’s invitation to return to Him.

I say that confession is one of the most misunderstood theological concepts for the simple reason that most Christians view it as negative.  Somewhere along the line Christians began to define confession simply as an act of contrition, shame, penitence, or a precursor to God’s punishment.  They theologically likened confession to pleading guilty in court or “coming clean” to their parents.  Confession was something you had to do when you were caught doing something wrong.  In all of these cases confession is being defined too narrowly (another result of “seeing through a glass darkly”).

For example let us look at Joshua 7:19, “And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to Jehovah, the God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me” (ASV).   In this verse the word confession seems to track with the negative connotations that most hold.  Interestingly enough the word for confession in this verse is the Hebrew word towdah, which means:  an extension of the hand, i.e. (by implication) an open declaration of adoration; specifically, a choir of worshippers.  It is not a negative word or concept at all.

We are also told to confess in Matthew 14:11, “For it is written, as I live, saith the Lord, to me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess to God” (ASV).  Once again the word for confession means more than once thought.  The Greek word for confess here is exomologeo, which is translated: to agree with, acknowledgment; (con or pro) fess; give thanks; praise.  

The point here revolves around the fact that in my personal Biblical exegesis I find that the word confession most often refers to a call for profession of faith rather than a plea of contrition.  I am not saying that word confession never means “confession” as we tend to use it; but I am saying that, as usual, we have taken a gift from God and turned it into a chore. We have tried to understand God’s love from our broken perspective and once again missed the point.     

That point being that all God wants is our love and devotion and He is doing all He can to help. All God wants from us is what we want from our children and that is a loving relationship validated by the trust that allows confession of wrongdoing and profession of unconditional love.

I do not know about you but I can do that. 

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