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Confessing the Right Sin

"The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth."1

Some time ago I remember reading a simple but profound statement by Cecil Osborne. He said, "When we are hiding a deeper sin or fault, we tend to confess a lesser one all the more vigorously."

A friend of mine, for example, had been trying to overcome his smoking addiction for 20 years without success. No matter how hard he tried, he just couldn't break the addictive habit.

When he shared his struggle with me, I simply asked, "Why do you need to smoke?"

He looked at me with a blank stare as if to say, "Are you crazy, what are you talking about? I don't need to smoke." He then mumbled a few incoherent sentences, turned around, and walked away. He died a few years later of cancer!

True, my friend's smoking addiction was a problem, but it wasn't the real problem. It was the fruit of a deeper root—the symptom of some unresolved issue he was either afraid or unwilling to examine. He was confessing the wrong sin/problem; that is, he was confessing just the symptom, not the deeper cause.

The same principle is true of all addictive behaviors and many of our negative and sinful actions. To overcome we need to be ruthlessly honest with ourselves, with at least one safe person who won't judge or put us down, and with God. We need to admit and confess not only the symptoms but the causes behind them. We may need to ask God to give us the courage to face these causes and to lead us to the help, support, and recovery program we need to overcome them.

This is the kind of praying God loves to hear and answer. As his word says, he "is near to all who call on him in truth."

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me the courage to admit all of my sins and failures, and to face the causes behind them, whether they be behavioral, physical, emotional or spiritual. And give me the courage to confess all of these to at least one trusted friend or counselor as well as to you. And please lead me to the help I need to overcome them. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Psalm 145:18 (NIV).


All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.