We humans have been hiding our sin since the beginning. One of the first things Adam and Eve did after they disobeyed was hide from God (Genesis 3:8).
Shame often follows in the wake of our sin, and if we are left to ourselves, we will mask it and pretend no grievance has occurred. But one of the worst places for a Christian to live is in a spiritual ghost town, where they believe they can’t share their sin with others. Our silence may protect our self-image, but it also leaves our shame intact and kills our forward progress.
In these moments of shame, the gospel frees us to share and confess.
Grace Covers Shame
God said that it was not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). Yes, this passage directly addresses marriage, but it also reflects God’s heart for all his people to be in community with others. God has called us to intimate friendship with other Christians.
Throughout Scripture, God assembles a group of people to worship him together, culminating in the church (Matthew 16:18). Nowhere does God encourage us to live in isolation for an extended time (beyond fasting and praying for short periods). And yet, we still may have a tendency and temptation in our hearts to run away from our brothers and sisters to hide our sin, rather than run to the very people that God has given us for encouragement, admonition, and love (Colossians 3:16).
One reason our hearts desire to run is because we want to hide our shame, like Adam and Eve. But God already knew their sin! He wasn’t surprised. Instead, he responded with amazing mercy: he clothed them, to cover their shame and foreshadow the cross of Christ (Genesis 3:21).
Today, we experience the same mercy from the Father. Nothing is hidden from God (Hebrews 4:13). We can try to hide and pretend, but he knows every sinful thought and deed. We can’t hide from him. But even with that knowledge of our sin, Jesus bore the full wrath that we deserve, and now we are covered by the righteousness of Christ. We can freely share our sin with God and others because we’ve been forgiven of it.
When we confess, we are confessing forgiven sin — there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).
Nothing to Fear
We also need to remember that no one is righteous apart from Christ. No one. No one who has obeyed God completely except for his Son. No one is without desperate need of God’s grace.
So if we are all on the same final playing field, why fear for our reputation or standing like we do? If we understand that all of us fall short of the glory of God, then we have no reason to regard certain men as superior or fear the thoughts of our fellow man. And if Jesus has already covered our shame and forgiven our sin, we truly have no reason to fear what we might lose by confessing.
Are you afraid to lose your reputation? Fear not! Let Jesus’s reputation and the joyful freedom that repentance brings lead you to confess your sin.
Are you afraid your friends will reject you? Fear not! Jesus was despised and rejected for you, and now accepts you. If some reject you, he understands. But your confession is just as likely — I’d say more likely — to encourage others to confess their sin too.
Perhaps you’ve had too high a view of your own righteousness, and therefore you feel embarrassed by your sin. Ask God to take that embarrassment and turn it into true repentance.
Let me add an important note: We should not confess to just anyone in any context. Many of us have had bad experiences in our past when others reacted unwisely to our confession. Before sharing our struggles with another person, we should consider whether we can trust this person to respond with encouragement and confidentiality.
Confess with Gospel Boldness
If you are currently struggling with sin, habitual or otherwise, I pray that God will give you courage to confess. Go ahead! The gospel frees you to live in the light through confession and repentance. God has already covered your sin. If you confess your sin, he is faithful and just to forgive you and to purify you (1 John 1:9).
Confession is one great step toward the freedom you are longing for. Confess your sin to a trusted friend or pastor. Ask God for grace, which he has abundantly stored up for you. Know that you are forgiven and your shame has been covered completely.