Live Inside Out: Confession

We all say or do wrong things, including coaches. Lashing out with belittling words at a player, bending the rules to gain a competitive advantage, compromising the truth in order to avoid a difficult conversation with an athlete’s parent – when coaches choose anything like this, it’s what the Bible calls “sin.” Sin is anything we say, do, or even think that is contrary to God’s good design for us.

Whether or not it seems like it in the moment, sin is always damaging to us and to those around us. We then add to the destructiveness of our sin when we try to hide it, rationalize it, or blame others for it. Undealt-with sin is like the locker of the guy on my HS football team who never took his practice jersey, t-shirt, or socks home to wash them…even when we confronted him about it! The increasing stench of the undealt-with gear in that locker negatively impacted the guy (no one wanted to be around him) and everyone else in the locker room.

Why do some coaches try to hide, rationalize, or blame others for their sin rather than acknowledging it? They’re living outside in – allowing external factors like image-management to determine their choices. Coaches who trust and follow Christ are called to live inside out – to have the transforming work of Jesus at the core of who we are determine how we live. In this series of devotions we’ve seen that living inside out requires staying connected to Jesus Christ, having unshakeable biblical convictions, and developing Christlike character. Here’s a fourth component: practicing honest confession when we sin.

While King David in the Bible trusted God and lived for him in amazing ways, he also had moments when he sinned and attempted to hide his sin. Listen to what David says about this in Psalm 32:3, 5 – “When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long… Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, ‘I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.’ And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.”

Honestly confessing his sin made all the difference for David in dealing with the damage his sin caused, including to his relationship with the Lord. As those who desire to live inside out, what does it mean for us to practice honest confession when we sin?

First, we need to own our sin. Like David, we must stop trying to hide our guilt. We must also quit excusing our sin or blaming our sin on others. We must resist the temptation of image-management and instead humbly take ownership for what we’ve said or done. We cannot deal with what we don’t acknowledge as a problem.

Second, we need to honestly confess our sin to God. As David says in v. 5, all sin is “rebellion” – rebellion against God and what he’s made clear is his design for us. When we sin, we’re saying to God, “I want to do things my way, not yours.” Confession is recognizing and being grieved by the truth that our sin is against God. Confession is saying to God, “I’m sorry for doing things my way, not yours. Please forgive me.”

Finally, we gratefully receive God’s forgiveness for our sin. Because of what Jesus Christ has done for us – dealing with the penalty for our sin by paying with his life on the cross, and demonstrating his complete victory over sin through his resurrection from the dead – we can now receive full forgiveness for our sin when we surrender our lives in faith to Christ. Experiencing the reality of this forgiveness happens day by day as we own any sin choices we make and confess them honestly to the Lord. We can then gratefully live in the truth of 1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

Coach, if you try to hide or rationalize your sin, it hinders you from becoming all our loving God desires for you to be. But because of Jesus’ work to deal with your sin, it doesn’t have to be this way. As soon as you recognize you’ve sinned in any way, confess it humbly to the Lord. Gratefully receive the forgiveness for your sin he offers as you practice honest confession. Don’t neglect this crucial component of living inside out.

For reflection: Ask the Lord to make you aware (if you aren’t already) of any undealt-with sin in your life. Own your sin, honestly confess it to the Lord, and receive his forgiveness. Express your gratitude to him for his love and grace.