I just finished talking with a man who is in the process of recovery from sexual sin. As he told me about the freedom he has found in confession, a memory carried me back to a gravel road on the Navy Base in Orlando, Florida.
One day, in elementary school, I fell off my bike while racing down a gravel road, opening several large wounds on the left side of my body. It took about an hour for my friend Matt’s mom to clean the dirt and gravel out of those wounds. It hurt, but I knew it was the best thing to do.
The next morning I had a soccer game. My wounds were bandaged and somewhat forgotten until I slid in the dirt to kick the ball, ripping off the bandages and filling every wound once again with dirt. I went to the sideline and recovered my dirty wounds with fresh bandages and I continued to play the game.
After the game my Dad took me out to the picnic table in the back yard. Slowly and carefully Dad removed each bandage exposing my dirty wounds to the air. Once my wounds were exposed he began to clean my wounds. Each wound was covered in dirt. I cried as my Dad scrubbed away the dirt exposing the raw and painful wounds. The pain was excruciating. To this day I can still hear my Dad whispering, “I’m so sorry, son. I know this hurts, but your wounds won’t heal properly unless I get all of the dirt out.” I made myself vulnerable to my Dad because I knew that he had the best intentions. I endured the pain because I wanted to be healed. Hurt was the price I paid for healing.
Some of us are walking around with wounds that will not heal simply because—out of the fear of pain—we refuse to reveal them to ANYONE. And because we refuse to reveal them, they have not been healed. God’s word clearly teaches us that there is healing found in authenticity to both God and people.
In 1 John 1:8, 9 we read, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (italics mine). Now confessing our “sins” to God may not be a pleasant experience. In fact it may be a very painful ordeal, but John clearly teaches us that only in authenticity with God do we find forgiveness and purification.
In James 5:16 we read, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (italics mine). I’m pretty positive that confessing our “sins” to each other may also not be a pleasant experience. In fact, I’m pretty sure that it might be a very, very painful and risky ordeal, but James clearly teaches us that only in authenticity with each other do we find true healing.