Playing the confession game – conscience relief

By Dave Henning / February 4, 2019

“We play the confession game because somewhere along the way, we were taught that the purpose of confession was conscience relief.  That is, we confess in order to make ourselves feel better about what we’ve done.  And if you want to put a theological spin on it, we confess because we think it will somehow help God feel better about what we’ve done.”- Andy Stanley (emphasis author’s)

“And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up.  If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.  Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”- James 5:15-16

In Chapter 11 (“Confronting Guilt”) of Enemies of the Heart, Andy Stanley talks about confession.  Most noteworthy, Pastor Stanley stresses that he’s not talking about the kind worldly concept of confession.  Andy describes that kind of confession as simply admitting culpability in a particular incident.  For example: “Yes, honey, I drank out of the milk carton, again.”

Furthermore, Andy likens quick confession prayers to Tylenol – both take the edge off our pain.  But, quick confession prayers fail to heal the wound caused by our sin.  As a result, we find that we constantly repeat and confess the sins of our past.  Because the guilt remains.

However, the Scriptures associate confession with change.  Confession consists of one step in a series of steps designed to lead the guilty out of darkness and into the light.  Thus, confession initiates the process that ultimately leads us to a life style or behavioral change.

In conclusion, Pastor Stanley observes, over and over again the Bible speaks of confession in terms of life change, not conscience relief.  Confession is never offered as a substitute for repentance.  Rather, it’s a first step toward repentance.

Today’s question: Have you ever played the confession game for conscience relief?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “In fellowship with the Father”

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Dave Henning

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