March 25, 2015

Confession: Good for the Body

1 John 1:5-10; James 5:16

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

—  1 John 1:9

Just as confession is good for the soul, it is also good for the body, the church of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). When we admit our sins to one another, we become accountable and gain renewed assurance of God's forgiveness. We can be honest with God, with one another, and with ourselves. We grow spiritually because it's hard to look someone in the eye and lie.

Together at the cross we can find not guilt, condemnation, and shame, but affirmation of God's forgiveness. We become what Peter calls "a royal priesthood" (1 Peter 2:9), assuring each other of God's forgiveness: "He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." God accepts Christ's sacrifice for our sins and credits us with his righteousness through faith in Jesus as our Savior (Romans 3:21-26).

Sadly, we often cover up our sin and pretend all is well when we are among members of the church. Whom in the church can we trust? But since God tells us, "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other," he will provide people we can trust to pray and care for us. It's good for us; it's good for Christ's body. Imagine what your church could be if its mem­bers could be honest with each other. Why not begin with some members you can trust today?

Lord Jesus, you died for our sins so that we could become your people. Help us to help each other know your mercy and grow into your image. We pray in your name. Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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