James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

     Healing does come with honesty, fellowship and prayer.  Within the body of Christ, His true church, miracles happen.  When we pray for one another we draw closer to God and to each other in a bond of love and unity.  That in itself is a miracle in a world of increasingly shallow relationships and growing social indifference.

     We must be wise in how we follow this scripture.  The Forerunner Commentary points out; “James instructs us to confess our faults. The apostle does not mean that we should reveal every sin and foible to everyone in the congregation. He implies that we should confide our problems to a close, trusted friend so that he or she can help us by praying to God for help in overcoming it.”

     A little humble pie is good for us; “. . . social confession tends much to humble the soul, and to make it watchful. We naturally wish that our friends in general, and our religious friends in particular, should think well of us; and when we confess to them offenses which, without this confession, they could never have known, we feel humbled, . . .” (Adam Clarke Commentary)

     Paradoxically, the humility confession brings makes our prayers effective.  Why?  Scripture explains how this works; “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, you hypocrites.” (James 4:7,8)  When we admit our faults we have to drop our hypocritical front and so we resist the Devil as he works in our pride.

     We draw close to God and He draws close to us.  Jesus is our righteousness and our true power in prayer!  His strength is perfected in our weakness;  “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

     Sadly there are those false shepherds that would use confession as a way to keep us in the bondage of guilt and shame;  “. . . one of the most attractive lures of an unhealthy religious group is the appearance that group members enjoy a high level of intimacy as a result of their public confessions.” (Eight Ways to Identify Religious Brainwashing: The Cult of Confession)

     Stephen Smith points out; “Unhealthy religious leaders can keep their followers brainwashed by subjecting them to a continual state of accusation. Instead of promoting growth and maturity in Jesus Christ, group leaders foster spiritual infantilism by keeping members in a perpetual state of gloom and penitence.”  Smith rightly describes the way out of this trap; “The solution to all of these problems is to hold in tension a clear-eyed view of sin with a healthy sense of biblical self-worth in Christ. By disavowing simplistic extremes, religious leaders and followers can walk in grace and truth and avoid the cult of confession.”

      Those who would keep you in bondage will face a terrible judgement because they give God’s Word a bad reputation; “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” (2 Peter 2:1-3)

     When you confess your sins don’t allow anyone to push your humility into toxic shame.  Indeed, the Bible tells us the Gospel Good News; “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Romans 8:1,2)

     Praise the Lord!