“So far today, Lord, I’ve done alright. I haven’t gossiped, haven’t lost my temper, haven’t been greedy, grumpy, selfish, or rude. But in a few minutes, I’m going to get out of bed and from then on I’m probably going to need a lot of Your help. Amen.” A man was on his deathbed with his wife maintaining a steady vigil by his side. As she held his fragile hand, her warm tears ran silently down her face, splashed onto his face, and roused him from his slumber. He looked up and his pale lips began to move slightly. “My darling,” he whispered. “Hush, my love,” she said. “Go back to sleep. Shhh. Don’t talk.” But he was insistent. “Honey,” he said in his tired voice. “I have to talk. I have something I must confess to you.” “There’s nothing to confess,” replied the weeping Betsy. “It’s all right. Everything’s all right, go to sleep now.” “No, no. I must die in peace, Betsy. I have been so unfaithful to you. I have even had affairs with your best friend and your sister.” Betsy mustered a pained smile and stroked his hand. “Hush now Jake, don’t torment yourself. I know all about it,” she said. “Why do you think I poisoned you?”
At Italy’s annual church fair this May, certain vendors will be promoting a high-tech confessional by which a parishioner can fax in his confession.
The $3,850 – $8,500 set up is targeted for “busy people” who can’t swing the time to stop by a church. This new confession box received sharp reviews from the Church. The critics said the new invention had “turned the confessional into a space-age telephone booth.” Traditional Catholic teaching holds that the sacrament of confession requires the presence of the priest and the person confessing.
The Bible uses confession two ways. The first way is to describe an open, bold, and courageous proclamation of one’s faith. The apostle Paul wrote: “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness and, with the mouth confession is made to salvation” (Rom 10:9-10) The second way is an admission of sins. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven, writes James. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
The only contribution we make to our righteousness is our confession and admission of sin. Early one morning Joshua had Israel come forward by tribes, and Judah was taken. The clans of Judah came forward, and he took the Zerahites. Joshua had his family come forward man by man, and Achan, was taken. Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and give him the praise. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.” Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.” Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them.
Sometimes the best way to convince people that they are wrong is to let them have their own way. “When he came to his senses, he said, `How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!
I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.
Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy [for] which the merchant will sell all his goods. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ.
C. S. Lewis described his self-examination “with a seriously practical purpose,” on coming to Christ. He says that he “found what appalled me: a zoo of lust, a bedlam of ambitions, a nursery of fears, a harem of fondled hatreds. My name was Legion.” And like the demoniac, the cure for us is to run to Jesus, bow down before Him and allow Him to cast out whatever may possess us.