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Why Confessing Your Sin Leads to Freedom and Joy

By: Kristen Clark

Last weekend, Zack and I had the opportunity to teach at our church’s high school retreat which proved to be a fruitful and sanctifying experience. After weeks of preparation, praying, and pouring our hearts into the sessions, we were so excited to finally teach them together. The retreat weekend arrived and we found ourselves rushing to get out of the door. Feeling frazzled, frustrated, and slightly annoyed at each other, we headed on our way. ⁣

As the hour-long car ride stretched on, our disagreements and frustrations only worsened. And here’s the ironic part. We were scheduled to teach our first session THAT night and it was literally on the topic of “Genuine Confession and Forgiveness.” Perfect.

Thankfully, our weeks of prepping actually equipped us for this very moment. ⁣

As we reached our destination, we both knew we couldn’t go inside yet.

We needed to put into practice what we were about to preach. Swallowing our pride, we prayed together and asked God to give us hearts of humility and love for one another. As we talked things out, we were able to pursue genuine confession and forgiveness right there on the spot. ⁣

Being a Christian isn’t about being perfect. It’s about being genuine enough to admit when you sin, to seek authentic reconciliation, and then move forward in Christ-centered forgiveness.

Confession isn’t something a lot of Christians like to talk about because it can seem negative and gloomy. However, when understood from a Biblical perspective, it’s actually a beautiful thing!

Whether we like it or not, genuine confession is a crucial element of living an authentic Christian life.

James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” God calls us to genuine confession because true joy is found in Christ through the forgiveness of our sins.  

As one author puts it, “Confession of sin, ultimately, is the application of the gospel.” Desiring God article

We are all sinners and will inevitably sin against God and one another. Confessing our sins to God not only restores our relationship with Him, but restores our relationship with those we’ve sinned against. Confession begins with a humble acknowledgment of our sin before God. It leads us down the path of faithfully pursuing reconciliation with others and asking for their forgiveness.

Confession fuels our gratitude for Christ and reminds us that he died in our place and bore the punishment for our sin.

Psalm 32:1-5 paints a powerful picture for us:

1 “Blessed [happy] is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.

4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.”

This passage makes it extremely clear that confessing our sin and being honest about it leads to true joy. This Psalm also makes it clear that unconfessed sin and hidden sin will lead to sorrow and even physical pain.

The guilt and shame that we feel regarding our sin is God’s way of helping us pursue confession and freedom.

In fact, one of the roles that the Holy Spirit plays in our lives is to convict us of our sin in order to lead us toward repentance and truth (John 18:8). The word convict is actually a translation of the Greek word elencho, which means “to convince someone of the truth.” As one author put it, “The Holy Spirit acts as our personal prosecuting attorney by exposing evil, reproving evil, and convincing us that we need a Savior.”

When we’re convicted of sin, we need to be intentional to respond quickly to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. Putting it off or ignoring our sin could lead to a hardened heart, a seared conscience, or feelings of indifference toward sin. Plus, it keeps us from experiencing true joy in Christ.

As challenging as confession may be, God is calling each one of us to be faithful in this area for our own good and His glory. True Christianity isn’t about pretending that everything is fine, but about being honest about our sin struggles and confessing them to God and others.

There was a time in my life as a teen when I was struggling with lustful, sexual sin, and wasn’t being honest about it.

This went on for several years and I began to lack genuine joy in Christ as a result. It wasn’t until I confessed my sin to God (and got help from others) that I truly experienced freedom. I can personally attest to what Psalm 32 says about finding joy and happiness in being forgiven! “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.”

Sister, don’t hold onto sin. In the end, it’s not worth it. I want to personally encourage you to take some time today to genuinely examine your heart before the Lord. Do you have any unconfessed sin that needs to be dealt with between you and God? Have you sinned against someone else and need to pursue reconciliation with them? Remember, confession may be hard in the moment, but you will find true joy in Christ on the other side!!

Cling to the promises of 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Let’s chat below!

  • Have you ever experienced physical pain as a result of unconfessed sin in your life?
  • What do you find most challenging about pursuing genuine confession?

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10 Responses to Why Confessing Your Sin Leads to Freedom and Joy

  1. BenandBreana Johnson says:

    Ah, I love the smell of conviction in the morning. Needed to read this today.

  2. Morgan says:

    I agree with this. I struggled with sexual sin from 8 to 18, and I finally confessed to my mentor this summer. I made myself sick all day the day that I told her because I knew that I needed to tell her, but I didn’t want to. It was so hard to say out loud what I was doing, but I’m glad that I told her.

    Also, can anyone offer me any advice on bringing this up to my mentor again? I love her dearly, but I am afraid to bring up the topic again. I have been filled with shame and guilt ever since I told her.

    • Lydia says:

      Confession is not easy for me either. I am inclined to hold it inside me and not let anyone else in. Advice for me to give myself is find someone I trust and just do it.

    • Ariadne Hazelwood says:

      I can relate to this so much because I as well suffered with sexual sin, from around 10-11. That was actually how I found GirlDefined, looking to see if there were any Christians dealing with the same sin/temptation or anyone who even acknowledged such sin. I’m definitely not the best person for advice. But I think that if you get everything off your chest to her, even the worst bits, it might be easier to talk about in the future. As of bringing it up, I recommend not working yourself up about it. The minute you see her, blurt everything out. I know how it feels to be filled with guilt and shame about things like this, but people are often much more understanding and forgiving than you think. The last time I told someone, I cried again (partially shame, partially guilt, and partially embarrassment), and rather than even mentioning it, the person just calmed me down and then we had the conversation.

      Like I said, I’m definitely not the best person to ask advice from, but I hope this is a start. And God bless you!

    • Sonell says:

      If you bring it in the light, then there is no place for shame and guilt. You might feel guilty and ashamed, but that’s the devils way of keeping you from confessing…

      • Ariadne Hazelwood says:

        I can understand where you’re coming from, but in my eyes, it’s not necessarily wrong to be ashamed of it. I’m not trying to argue with you, I’m just saying that for me, my shame is a way of saying that I’m sorry. It does make it harder to confess, that’s true, so I can definitely see what you’re saying. I think that the important thing isn’t that you don’t have guilt or shame, it’s that you know how to work around it.

  3. Anna Rachel says:

    I really needed to read this today. I’ve been struggling with sexual sin for about a year now (I’m 14) and just knowing that I’m not alone is really comforting to me. I have asked for forgiveness but I feel more guilty because I keep falling back into it, but I know that God still loves me and that He will help me overcome it.

    • Morgan says:

      I’m 19 now and didn’t know what I was doing was wrong until I was about 16 or 17. As hard as it may sound, I encourage you to find someone that you can be honest with when you can’t even be honest with yourself. When you find that person, bring the sin to the light. I didn’t find freedom from my bad habits until I told my person. I would also say that she was the person that I respected and trusted the most in my life, and she had a good opinion of me, so I was scared that she was going to think differently of me. She reassured me that she didn’t think of me any differently after I told her.

  4. Antonia says:

    I’ve been struggling for about two years with hidden sin, and THIS is what I needed. Last week, God decided to reveal my sin, since He says that the truth will always come to the light, and I can testify and say that I have never felt better. Being able to confess and say out loud that you’ve sinned, and getting help for it is an indescribable feeling. I’ve gotten to know God’s forgiveness through my parents, and I’m so glad that all of this happened, even if at the beginning it was embarrassing and heartbreaking. Sin DOES cause physical pain, especially when it’s been going on for a long time, and we’ve ignored the Holy Spirit for a while.The most challenging part about confession is probably calling your sin by its name, even when it’s small. Admitting you’ve fallen into a sin that you’ve been warned about your whole life is a struggle, but if you know you’re saved,it’s just a battle along the way on our road to sanctification.


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