James teaches us that healing from sin comes through confession. That's not revolutionary. What is revolutionary, however, is that James tells us to confess to each other. We all believe we should confess to God, but why should we confess to each other? Isn't the point of confession to make oneself right with God? The answer is an obvious yes, but it should be followed up with the question: isn't another point of confession to change our behavior? Is God truly pleased when we confess the same sin over and over and over and over and, well, you get the idea. When we confess to God, He already knows what our sin is, since He's omniscient. When we confess to someone else, we humble ourselves before another person, and we allow that other person to see our weakness. What greater motivation for change is there than when a close friend sees our deeply sinful nature. I know of countless examples in my own life and in the lives of others where confession to God over and over again didn't do anything to stop the pattern of sin, but when confession was made to another person the healing process began and the power of sin has been broken. I once heard a good rule of thumb that should be noted here: sin that is committed publicly should be confessed publicly, and sin that is committed privately should be confessed privately. There's no need to air one's dirty laundry in front of the whole church, but we should choose someone who can be trusted and use the opportunity to confess so that we may be healed. Confession to another person breaks the power of sin.
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Seth is a pastor, author, and speaker who lives in Batesville, Indiana. He is married to Kari, and they have two daughters, Madelyn and Noelle.