The secrecy of sin is its power to bind. What is forced underground, hides and cannot be easily rooted out.
The Writer here reminds us that breaking this secrecy is essential to “prospering” – which is nothing else than gaining victory over the motions of indwelling sin. Now the issue of “confession” raises questions about whom we might confess to, and under what circumstances. And it would seem that this is not a simple matter. Some things simply cannot profit others and thus are not fit for public consumption. In fact, too much said about shameful things to large, unprepared audiences can cause much positive harm. And it may be wise to look at this in terms of layers.
The very first layer is that confession must begin with SELF. Our God requires truth in the inward parts (Ps. 51:6). We must be absolutely honest with ourselves about our sin – facing it head on for what it really is, neither excusing nor soft-soaping it (nuancing our own conceptions by thinking of our own sin in therapeutic terms and without horror, disgust and the need to find freedom), not accommodating it or giving up on its need to be mastered. If we do not begin here, no true progress can be made. Here in fact, we may well appeal to God’s Spirit to open our eyes to our own sin and its depths – lest we rely only upon our own deceptive hearts. We WILL try to fool ourselves. Psalm 139:23 (ESV) Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
The next layer is confession to God. If we cannot speak openly, truthfully, brutally to Him about our sins, then there is no help to be had. For it is only by walking in the Spirit that we can be prevented from gratifying the lusts of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). If we cannot honestly and fully enlist His help, there is no other source of help to be had.
Whether or not a 3rd layer of confession to another Christian confidant or several, would seem to be dictated upon whether or not the first two have been utilized fully – and have dealt with the problem. If not, other measures are required. Appropriate brothers and/or sisters need to be brought into the situation to lend encouragement, accountability, advice, prayer and other support.
It is my considered opinion however that failure to truly live in the first two, is most often what requires the implementation of the 3rd.
Heavenly Father, give me a heart that detects and acknowledges my sin fully and quickly. May there be nothing between us on any level. May my heart be open and honest before you, looking to you and depending upon you till at last, by your grace, those areas which at present remain untamed and defiant of Christ’s Lordship, are brought to their knees before you.