Is This Verse in Your Bible?
James 5:16. Is this verse in your Bible? Go ahead, look it up in your personal Bible. Did you find it? I bet you did. The reason I ask if it is in your Bible is that this verse seems to be completely neglected in churches today. It's quite an exhortation from James. Did he really say to confess our sins to each other? Notice, he starts with the word "therefore." This verse falls on the heels of James 5:13-15. Whatever you might believe about the sickness in that passage, clearly the main issue was sin that caused the sickness. The remedy that James offers is found in verse 16 - confess your sins to one another and pray for one another. Think about it. When was the last time you confessed your sin to somebody else? I think that the practice of confession in the Roman Catholic Church has caused evangelicals to shy away from confessing their sins to each other. Let me just offer up 5 reasons why confessing our sins to each other is important:
Confession combats pride. To confess your sins to one another requires you to humble yourself and admit you are not perfect. It puts you in a position of vulnerability with the other person because you don't know how he/she will respond or what he/she might think. It also puts you in a place to trust God to handle the outcome of the confession.
Confession combats self-righteousness. The very act of confession admits one's lack of righteousness. I believe that one of the reasons we have created a church atmosphere ripe for hypocrisy is that people live confession-less lives. Confession ought to drive us to the righteousness of Christ.
Sin, by nature, isolates; confession, by nature, congregates. Sin isolates a person from both others and God. Hiding sin keeps believers from forming relationships because a person needs to keep up the appearances of Godliness. Yet, confession encourages community because it acknowledges what we all know to be true: we struggle with sin and are not perfect.
Confession keeps you in the light. John encourages us to walk in the light in 1 John 4:7. Ironically, john says that we first have fellowship with each other when we walk in the light, then he says that we have fellowship with God. Confessing our sins to another keeps us walking in the light.
Confession incites prayer. Notice that James says to confess and pray for one another. Why confess to another? So that they might pray for you. We need each other praying for us. Imagine what a prayer meeting would look like if we practiced what James said? No longer would our prayers be shallow and focused on this life.
Confession is dangerous. It exposes you. It causes the real you to pop up behind the masquerade of false righteousness. James 5:16. Is this verse in your Bible?
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