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Most of us now belong to the “talk show” generation. We are so used to the idea of no-holds-barred, bare-it-all interviews. Somehow, we brought that idea to the church. Yes, we are to “confess [our] sins to one another” (James 5:16a, ESV). But what does it really mean to confess?

To confess one’s sin is not just to open up about it. Sadly there are people who end up boasting about their sins. That’s not confession of your sins. That’s crowing about your sins.

In his “Has ‘Authenticity’ Trumped Holiness?” Christian author Brett McCracken warned, 
Often, what passes for authenticity in evangelical Christianity is actually a safe, faux-openness that establishes an environment where vulnerability is embraced, only up to a point. … This dynamic reflects another problem: our skewed understanding of sin. It’s almost as if our sins have become a currency of solidarity—something we pat each other on the back about as fellow authentic, broken people. But sin should always be grieved rather than celebrated,… [1]
In the Greek, “to confess” means “to say the same thing.” That is, when God says it is sin, we agree that it is sin. We don’t call it a weakness. We don’t excuse it. We don’t say we’re struggling with it. We admit that we are just not willing to obey. Remember that delayed obedience is disobedience.

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Isaiah the prophet warned about those who would not “say the same thing” or those who do not accept God’s standard of what is right and wrong.
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! (5:20-21)
God had set His holy plumb line before us, that is, His Word. If we’re not aligned with it, we are at fault. Not the plumb line.
And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” I answered, “A plumb line.” And the Lord replied, “I will test my people with this plumb line. I will no longer ignore all their sins.” (Amos 7:8, NLT)
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So, to “confess [our] sins to one another”, we don’t just look for people who would understand us. We need people to point us to the right direction: to find forgiveness in the Lord.
Our notion of authenticity should not primarily be about affirming each other in our struggles… Rather, authenticity comes when we collectively push each other, by grace, in the direction of Christ-likeness. … Receiving grace for my failures also includes Christ’s help to turn from sin and embrace new obedience. [2]
“Broken” Step

Do you know people whom you feel free to share what you’re going through? Take time to thank God for them. As Proverbs 18:24 said, “Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.” (The Message) Also, find creative ways to express your appreciation to them.

[1] Brett McCracken (26 January 2014), “Has ‘Authenticity’ Trumped Holiness?” The Gospel Coalition, retrieved from Emphasis added.

[2] Ibid. Emphasis added.


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