In just a few moments, we will come to the point in our service where we confess our sins. We do not do this because we think it should just be part of the drill—because we just want to acknowledge something theologically. Although this does make a theological statement, we are not preaching here; we are confessing.
We are not confessing because we think that living in sin is the ordinary lot of the Christian. Rather, we confess sin because the gospel teaches us that sin is abnormal for the Christian—we are to deal with it, get rid of it. We do this on the Lord’s Day in order to set the pattern—no need to wait for Sunday. We cannot get rid of sin by making it a permanent fixture in our lives, and we cannot get rid of it by pretending that we don’t have it. The point is not to wallow in acknowledged sin, and the point is not to wallow in unacknowledged sin. The point we are driving toward is honest relief. God really cleanses here.
When Christians who ought to be confessing sin openly refuse, for various reasons, to do so, the result is always a spiritual dislocation. Hidden sin, unconfessed sin, is sin that always drives odd behavior.
This is one reason why a close friend may pull away, for no apparent reason. This is why inexplicable quarrels break out. This is why sons follow their fathers in sin without really knowing what their fathers were actually up to. There is a spiritual connection that cannot be erased simply because there is no cognitive awareness of the sin. God says that He visits iniquity to the third and fourth generation, not that He visits iniquity to the third and fourth generation if those generations find out about it.
Another manifestation of unconfessed sin is the odd crusade—the person (in order to compensate) becomes completely engrossed in some kind of public manifestation of what he defines as righteousness. This is why our abortion-providing, sodomy-loving elites spend a lot of time and energy in getting teenagers to stop smoking, for example. It is good to feel righteous about something. The crusader needs righteousness, which he cannot have apart from honest confession, and so he tries to manufacture it by displaying his zeal for righteousness in some alternative, and very safe, place.
In order to fight these temptations, common to all of us, we submit to the discipline of confessing our sins.