Washing clothes is a task that you do again and again.
Cleaning generally comes down to plain old elbow grease, determination and a willingness to look bad in the face of love.
I’m talking about Soul cleaning. Getting rid of the bad stuff, the dust and the dirt of sin.
I think it was Martin Luther who confessed that the greatest loss in the Reformation was the loss of the confessional box. (Please don’t quote this as I am not sure if it is accurate. If you know the source etc can you let me know)
We all need a place to go, a person to listen, and a Saviour to heal.
Do you have a habit of confessing your sin?
David, after he was confronted by the Prophet Nathan about his affair with Bathsheba cries out to God his penitent prayer in Psalm 51.
Generous in love—God, give grace!
Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record.
Scrub away my guilt,
soak out my sins in your laundry.
I know how bad I’ve been;
my sins are staring me down.
You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen
it all, seen the full extent of my evil.
You have all the facts before you;
whatever you decide about me is fair.
I’ve been out of step with you for a long time,
in the wrong since before I was born.
What you’re after is truth from the inside out.
Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.
Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean,
scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life. Psalm 51:1-7
When we come to God, and others, with a true heart of confession we desire to cleaned and scrubbed in the laundry.
Clothes in David’s time were often washed by immersing them in streams and then beating the cloth on a rock. Not just once, but many many times until the deepest stains had been pummelled out.
It is no wonder that confession is not a popular spiritual exercise to practice.
Confession is exposing the soul’s core dirtiness.
Now do we do this?
1. Ask the Holy Spirit to expose what needs cleaning. Some dirt remains hidden, unseen, and buried. The comforting and cleansing power of the Holy Spirit desires to come and minister to the core of your soul.
2. Find a Soul friend. Someone who is safe, who will listen deeply and not condemn. Someone who will point you to Jesus.
In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
We owe love to all people, but only to a proven friend are we to entrust “the secrets of the heart”. Aelred of Rievaulx
3. Name the sin. If pride, don’t say I have pride in my life, rather confess where you have pride in your life. “I have always thought I was better than …’ If you have hurt others ask them how you have hurt them. Write it down if you have to.
4. Embrace the sin. See it for all its ugliness. Don’t just intellectualise it, but take it into yourself at an emotional level.
5. Place the sin. If we just hold the rawness of the sin within ourselves it will eat us up. It will trap us within its power and lead to self hatred and a bearing of the eternal cost of what has occurred There is a solution. We take the sin, named and embraced, and we place it at the base of the Cross. On the cross Jesus took the full penalty for our sins. I imagine a sign being on the Cross saying ‘For these sins I died’. I place my list of sins at the base, I hear an eternal whisper ‘You are forgiven, washed, pure and clean.
6. Worship and thank Jesus. He has done so much on your behalf.
7. Repeat wash cycle. More washing to be done as the Holy Spirit reveals.
Confession is an act of honesty and courage – an act of entrusting ourselves, beyond sin, to the mercy of a loving and forgiving God. Pope John Paul 2
In failing to confess, Lord, I would only hide You from myself, not myself from You. Saint Augustine