A few weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of finding truth and knowing who, what, when, why, and how to trust when recovering from intimate betrayal. I’d like to examine Scripture together and go a little deeper into that topic, delving into the importance of confession in the pursuit of total honesty. I’ll also discuss some of the choices I’ve had to make as the spouse of an addict; the choices that face all spouses of addicts. It’s a long and difficult road to navigate! The world is full of advice; full of “answers.” It can be confusing; almost paralyzing to weigh the options in pursuit of the “right” answers. Thank God, He gives us His Word to lead us into all truth! I think that Psalms 32 beautifully sets the tone for what I hope to communicate today.
Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!
Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.
Day and night Your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.
Finally, I confessed my sin to You and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And You forgave me! All my guilt is gone.
Therefore, let all the godly pray to You while there is still time, that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgement.
For You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory.
The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control!”
Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.
So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey Him! Shout for joy, all whose hearts are pure!
According to these verses, refusing to confess our sins leads to misery and defeat. On the other hand, a life lived in complete honesty – allowing sin and guilt to come out into the open – will be cleared of guilt, and will be rewarded with the joy that comes from being forgiven. The result is victory! How different the Christian life would be if we truly embraced this principle; if we all had the humility to live it each and every day! Lord, humble me so that I will be quick to confess my sins and shortcomings and live in the victory You offer!
In recovery, the ultimate goal, when it comes to truth and confession, is for the addict to choose honesty and to recognize the spiritual importance of confession. What makes this so difficult is that we can only control what we do, and can only hope and pray that the addict will make the right choices as we try to make our way toward healing. Thankfully, my love has chosen to bring his sin into the light, confessing to me, to our families, and to our church. This was a huge step toward healing.
Why is Confession so Important?
Bringing sin into the open is humiliating. None of us want the world to know our darkest secrets. But I believe it is a crucial step towards freedom and healing. I have serious doubts that sobriety is even possible without it. Let’s look to Scripture to see what God has to say on the matter.
Proverbs 28:13 – People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.
James 5:16, 19-20 – Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results… My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.
If I’m wrong, may the Holy Spirit reveal it to me, but until He does, I will stand on this principle with a fierce resolve: We are meant to confess our sins to one another. There is power in it. Click To Tweet Breaking free from strongholds will never happen on our own. It won’t! We have to stop trying to do it alone. We have to stop pretending we have it all together. We are doing nothing but damage by living in these lies!
The Bible tells us that people who conceal their sins WILL NOT PROSPER!
It tells us plainly to confess our sins TO EACH OTHER.
Why? So that we can be HEALED!
How? Through the earnest prayers of a righteous person which has GREAT POWER, and PRODUCES wonderful RESULTS!
Father, help us to be obedient! Unify us together so that we will have the power You intended in order to live this life in victory. Help us to realize how desperately we need each other. Help us to treat each other with love, praying earnestly for one another. Help us to understand our calling to restore one another when we wander, and give us the humility to understand that one day we will be the one in need of that restoring power! Make us quick to confess, Lord, and quick to extend mercy as You are so faithful to do with each of us! -In Jesus’s Name.
1 John 1:5-9 (NIV) – This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
What is a Spouse to Do if the Addict Won’t Confess?
As I said before, praise the Lord, my love did confess his sins and his addiction to me, to our family, and to our church. That was the first very important step on what seems to have become our road to healing. But there were many years before that happened. Many years where I felt desperately alone, trying to figure out how to move forward. I felt called to stay in my marriage, but I knew that my love was not being honest with me. No matter how much I talked, I was incapable of convincing him of the importance of confession and honesty. No matter how many times I pleaded with him, he refused to surrender his pride in order to find healing. Many times, I wondered where God was in all of it. Now, I have claimed this verse over those years:
2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
God was there all along, but he was giving my love time. He was steadily working on his heart, relentlessly pursuing him, and faithfully giving me everything I needed to endure. When I look back, I can see how He led me to make just the right decisions at just the right times. He will do the same for anyone who asks! His timing is perfect, His plan: good beyond our comprehension. Click To Tweet My love is a child of the One True God. He could never hide from the Light of His Truth! Remember this:
Mark 4:21-23 – Then Jesus asked them, “Would anyone light a lamp and then put it under a basket or under a bed? Of course not! A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light will shine. For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.
John 1:4-5 – The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
Praise God, He did light up our darkness. No matter the schemes of the enemy, Jesus is going to win the victory. Darkness cannot extinguish His perfect light! What is a spouse to do if an addict won’t confess? Pray for God’s light to shine into your darkness and bring into the open everything that is hidden. Then, wait on Him, and follow His leadings.
Often, this will look like setting boundaries. There were several things I insisted upon through the years. Each time more drastic than the last. (Examples include seeking marriage counseling, finding an accountability partner, confessing to our pastor, joining a support group, and eventually telling our children, family and church) I tried to follow the guidelines of Matthew 18 and 1 Corinthians 5, remembering that the goal was restoration. Not punishment. In hind-sight I can see that if I had enacted the boundaries that came along later at the beginning it likely would have resulted in divorce. He wasn’t ready to respond. It was a process, and God led us both through each step. He will do the same for anyone who asks. And He will provide everything you need along the way. It’s such a scary road to walk, I know. But when we’re holding onto our Father’s hand, we’ll get through.
Our Experience with Confession
Here is an excerpt from my journal back in January:
“My love confessed his multiple infidelities to our church body this morning. It was a roller coaster. Of course, there was some humiliation as we stood up there. I worried what people would think of me. Would they think I was a terrible wife and can’t keep my husband happy? Would they pity me in a way that I don’t want to be pitied? I wondered what they would think of **my love** Would they think he’s a bad person, or some kind of monster? I realized that I still want people to respect him, what would this do to his reputation? I know this was all based in selfishness and pride, and that it was sinful. The Bible tells us to confess our sins to one another. The Bible tells us to bear one another’s burdens. The church as God wants it to be is a place of safety and love where we don’t judge each other in moments of humility. Where we love and support one another. Where we help carry each other’s burdens. Despite all my sinful reservations about this morning, ultimately I knew this was the right thing to do, and I was so proud of **my love** for having the courage and humility to do it. I have to believe that God will honor that act of obedience. In the end, it really doesn’t matter how people respond. Maybe some people did think bad things about both of us. It doesn’t change that it was the right thing to do. Obedience to the Word of God is ALWAYS the right thing to do. How others respond to that obedience is between them and God. Overall, though, we felt overwhelmingly supported and loved. People were encouraging and understanding and gracious. Many other people have been where we are… or ARE where we are. I pray God uses this situation to bring our church body together. To facilitate growth and to challenge our men to be passionate followers of Christ – committed to living lives of integrity! I pray that it brings Him glory.”
When I look back at that I am in awe. God has been so faithful! I am reminded of these verses:
1 Corinthians 10:13 – The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.
James 4:7-10 – So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and He will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up in honor.
I am so thankful that my love finally took the way out that God provided! I am so glad he confessed! I pray it will serve as a reminder to me, and to all of us that there is so much power in confession! The Bible makes that so very clear! Let’s all decide to be contrite before our Lord. May it break our hearts when we find that our loyalty has been divided in any way! May we draw near to Him and ask Him to purify our hearts. May we all find the humility to accept the way out that God is so faithfully offering, and may we confess our sins to one another and find healing!