Last night a group of friends met at our house for the first time in a long time. We have gotten busy and now nearly 15 kids between 6 families, time together becomes harder to come by. There was even discussion of disbanding for a while and pursuing other forms of intimacy. Luckily we did not do this.
As the group sat down over cake and coffee, my amazing wife led us in a discussion of the demoniac in Matthew who is delivered of his demons and the subsequent story of Jesus healing a man born paralyzed (Matt 8:28-9:7) As a group we discussed demons and being healed and gradually the conversation evolved into the need for personal forgiveness and the call to confess our sins to one another. This is not easy ground to walk on. This is some of the most challenging aspects of the Christian experience. “Confess your sins one to another and in this you will be free,” is the promise of scripture in James 5:16. Confess my sin to someone else? Show them my weakness? Everything in me rebels against this!
And so when Heather asked the question, “what do you need delivered from or what are you asking God to do a miracle with?” the group squirmed in silence. Nobody spoke and the silence hung in the room for a moment like an awkward visitor. And then one brave person shared a struggle they were dealing with. It was honest and profound and powerful. And the Spirit moved. Soon everyone around the circle shared the demon that has been plaguing them recently. And everyone asked for God to do a miracle with them. It was a beautiful night.
Though we don’t talk about spiritual warfare much in our present church, scripture tells us that the Devil is the great deceiver whose chief aim is to separate us from God’s presence. I believe the devil mostly does this through the presence of guilt. The devil tricks us into being unable to receive God’s grace because we don’t feel worthy. And thus, sin wins when we aren’t able to be forgiven for our wrongdoings and instead of receiving God’s forgiveness, we feel mired in our current situation. This is not God’s will for us. Jesus teaches us that forgiveness follows repentance and health flows out of this.
Confession is difficult and tricky business. But it puts us in a place to receive forgiveness. By digging at our shame and sin, we give God’s light a chance to penetrate our darkness and bring healing. This is one of the great hopes of the Gospel. We can be forgiven! We can be healed. And the first step is confession, to God or to one another. It isn’t easy but it is often the first step back into feeling forgiven by God. Truly freedom is found through confession.
I would rather be someone willing to look foolish in the sight of my closest friends than someone who spends their life trying to pretend I am without fault. Luckily for me God forgives me when I fail and restores me in my weakness.