Imagine you are sitting in a group of men. You have been asked to be honest with this group of men and they have been asked to be honest with you. Then the question comes up, have you acted on a desire to masturbate this week? You feel it deep in the pit of your stomach. It’s that urge to bury it, to hide, to play it cool and hope nobody notices you shifting in your seat. You know you need to be honest to get anything out of this group. You’ve even asked them to ask you this question. You just never expected to have to answer with a yes.
This urge to hide is all too familiar. In fact you’ve used this very thing you’re ashamed of to medicate this feeling.
This urge to hide is naturally occurring, which is tied to the emotion of shame. We see this urge acted out in scripture by Adam in Genesis.
When we feel and act on this, we tend to hide behind a mask we want people to see. Ultimately we don’t believe they would truly accept who we really are. Therefore, we go through life lacking in true intimacy, not being truly known by anyone. As a result of this we begin to feel alone, isolated, and trapped behind that mask. What we fail to realize is that this mask becomes a prison and blocks us from understanding who we truly are and blocks us from being authentically known by others. We ultimately become isolated and lonely. We truly become as sick as the secrets we keep.
The good news is that God has given us a remedy for this problem. The hard part about this news is that his solution is not easy.
We see the concept of confession first introduced in Genesis 3:11 where God gives Adam the chance to confess his sin. In 1 John 1:9 we read if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness, indicating our need to confess our sins to God. James tells us to confess our sins to each other (5:16). We come to understand from these passages that the prescription for sin and shame is to confess (be honest) to God and others.
One of my favorite examples of confession in scripture is found in John 13:2-10. This passage explains how Jesus washed the feet of the disciples at the Passover Feast. His washing their feet is an example of cleansing their sins and is a metaphor for the way confession works between an individual and his accountability group, accountability partner, or therapist. By confessing our sins honestly we get freedom from the prison of shame and gain a level of intimacy with God and others.