One of the most liberating things I do in my life is to admit my flaws. Acknowledging that I am imperfect isn’t always easy, but it takes a lot of weight off of my shoulders because it frees me to recognize that I’m not in control of everything. More importantly, though, it prompts me to honestly look at where I need improvement. Not conceding a flaw means that I don’t have to look at it, and of course, ignoring it means that I can’t work toward fixing it. Considerably more liberating – and considerably harder – is admitting that I am an active sinner, with an actively sinful heart. Confession of sin, if done rightly, is uncomfortable, and even painful. This is because you’re not just passively recognizing a flaw, you are owning up to poor choices that you knew were wrong, or should have known were wrong. You are taking responsibility for damaging your relationship with God, and perhaps even other people. You are granting that there is a predisposition in you toward evil that requires regular attention.
But if we don’t experience this pain by admitting our part in sinful decisions, then it is evidence that we don’t know Jesus, which in turn means that we don’t have him to plead our case before a just and faithful God – a God who is faithful to punish our sins, or to forgive them (1 John 2:1, Matthew 7:21-23). Just like when we don’t admit to a flaw, we are doomed to keep the sin and not make improvements. On the other hand, admitting our sins allows Jesus to shine his light into our lives and expose those things to us we’d rather not touch. Doing this allows him to cleanse us, and helps us to know that we belong to him (1 John 1:5-10).
Recognizing, confessing, and turning from sin in our lives is vital to Christian growth and maturity. I realized this some years ago when I took a careful inventory of my life. I realized that I had ignored God’s desires for my life, and that I had a terrible penchant for pride, lust, laziness, and even selfishness. I rarely looked at the places in my heart that harbored these evils. And I rarely considered how these evils hurt the people around me that I said I loved. Don’t get me wrong, I still battle with all of these (and others) – often on a daily basis. But I am more inclined to win those battles now than I’ve ever been. This is because in my Christian journey, I have learned to take a personal inventory not every few years, or months or weeks, but multiple times a day. This allows me to catch the sin as quickly as it has happened — sometimes even before it happens. This humbling exercise liberates me from the grip of those sins that separate me from my God, and hurt the people around me.