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Confessing the Wrong Sin

"Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment."1

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

For instance, an old friend had been trying to overcome his smoking habit for twenty years without success. He had been judged for this by folk in his church for as many years. He had also confessed his problem endlessly and prayed for deliverance, but no matter what he did, he just couldn't beat the habit.

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

He looked at me with a blank look as if to say, "Are you crazy, what are you talking about? I don't need this problem."

He then mumbled a few incoherent words, turned around and walked away. He died a few years later of cancer!

My friend's smoking wasn't the real problem. It was the fruit of a deeper root. He was confessing the wrong sin. True, his addiction to tobacco was a problem that needed to be resolved, but it was the symptom of a deeper problem that, it seems, he didn't want to look at, confront and deal with.

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

As his Word, the Bible, says, "The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth."2

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me the courage to face, see and resolve any and all causes behind any symptoms in my life—whether they be behavioral, physical, emotional or spiritual. Help me to find a safe, trusted friend to confess these to. And lead me to the help I need to overcome. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Proverbs 12:19 (NIV).
2. Psalm 145:18 (NIV).


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