Devotion 1 of 9 in the series Getting to Know Jesus: Matthew 3:1-10

When You Want More of Jesus. Or, Is Confession Good for the Soul?

Is Confession Good for the Soul? A person kneeling in front of a cross, silhouetted by a sunset

Welcome to the first devotion in the series “Getting to Know Jesus”! There’s a saying that confession is good for the soul. It comes from an old Scottish proverb, which said in full, “Open confession is good for the soul.” There is biblical truth in that! In fact, when John the Baptist was preparing people to meet Jesus, his first advice was to repent. Repentance implies a turning and involves a commitment to change. Confession–admitting guilt–often precedes repentance.

Matthew 3:1-10 (ESV)

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
make his paths straight.’”

4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Digging into God’s Word

God’s plan of redemption was coming to fruition. Jesus had burst onto the scene in human form 30 years prior to this, but He had been quiet, awaiting the proper time. The time had come. He was on the cusp of beginning His earthly ministry. Monumental events, anticipated through all of history, were about to occur. And what did John the Baptist preach? What would help people prepare to draw near to Jesus?

Repentance.

Really?

In reality it makes a lot of sense. Years ago, a colleague asked if I could surreptitiously get a piece of information from a coworker. I agreed. I marched down the hallway, knocked on her door, asked the question, and received the answer. My face flushed, and I hurried back to my desk, ashamed at what I had done. My spy mission had been successful, but I hardly felt victorious. I sat in my office chair and pondered what I had done. Later the same afternoon, I slunk back to my coworker’s office and apologized. She hadn’t even known my poor motives for asking the question.

We still work together, and although she probably doesn’t remember the incident, I do. I don’t remember what innocuous intel I was trying to glean, but I remember the wash of relief I felt after confessing. I had come clean, and we were right with each other again. I resolved to not let myself be put in such a situation again. That’s repentance–a turning away of past wrongs.

What if I hadn’t confessed? To this day there would be a rift–an unspoken barrier–between us. Thank you, Jesus, that you let us come to you with all of our gunk and confess it to you. Thank you for receiving us with open arms. Thank you for helping us turn toward you.

Digging Deeper

Reflect on these questions. If you have time, journal your answers.

  1. What do you feel led to confess, whether to another person or to God? Take a moment to write out your confession. This will give you the confidence to speak it out loud.
  2. James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” Do you want to draw nearer to God? Consider spending more than a few moments in confession. Take your time with it. Ask God to show you what you need to confess, and ask Him to help you turn away from those actions.
  3. Sometimes, especially with God, we confess and confess and confess and somehow do not accept God’s forgiveness. This could be over something little or big, recent or long past. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Take time now to consciously and intentionally receive the forgiveness that is already yours. It is done! Jesus finished it on the cross. Breathe.

Would you like some music for your devotion time? This song is so fitting, and I love the harmonies.

Extra Info!

Did you notice that Abraham is mentioned in verse 9? We are reminded to not rely on our heritage or ancestry. Our relationship with Jesus is based on current, or real-time, status, and is nurtured by the help of the Holy Spirit. We cannot rest on past laurels.

To access a series of devotions on Abraham, click here or use the navigation on the website.

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Comments

  1. Eric Mott says:

    Chris, this devotion has me pumped. You are so right on about what would have been a result had you not confessed to your colleague, a rift or barrier at best. At worst, a complete end of all contact. I’ve been there. I think of what Jesus tells us in Matt 5: 23,24 where if at the alter we remember someone has something against us that we should leave our gift and go reconcile first. I find it interesting that He put it in the setting of the Alter. How often I have had my worship time blocked because the Holy Spirit reminded me of something I had done to someone and I had not yet confessed to them and seek a way to make amends. I’ve mentioned this before but it is so huge to actually write down what we need to confess. It’s too easy to just gloss over it if we are only tossing around thoughts in our heads. Sometimes the shame causes us to not want to think on it. James 5:16 tells us where to get freedom and healing. After I wrote my past sins, all of them, and confessed to both God and to another man whom I completely trusted, then I felt tremendous freedom. I continue to do this to this day.

    THANK YOU Chris! Great way to start the day.

    • Digging Deeper with God says:

      Thank YOU! Your life is a testimony to the power of confession. What a testimony. I write these devotions several days or weeks before they get posted. So this morning during my quiet time, working through a book by another author, I was being nudged to confess something to God and work on something in my heart . . . and then I reread this devotion and was further nudged! God is so perfect in His timing.

  2. Camber says:

    So awesome! The times I have encountered God most powerfully have been in times of true, deep, gut wrenching repentance… He is so faithful to us. The weight that is lifted is truly supernatural. Loving your posts! Excited to read more. Thanks!

    • Digging Deeper with God says:

      Thank you! It’s true: God’s forgiveness is beyond compare, which is so reassuring! You are so honoring to the Lord. God’s lovingkindness flows through everything you do.

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