Theology Thursday: Confession Is Good for the Soul

By Dr. Shelly Hogan

Two girl friends meet for coffee and show confession is good for the soul

Have you ever heard the saying, “Confession is good for the soul?” It is attributed to an old Scottish proverb that refers to the idea of coming clean with sins and shortcomings that may weigh heavily on one’s heart in order to feel better and obtain peace.*

This quote also has biblical roots in more than one verse of the Bible, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16, ESV). This verse reminds us of essential dynamics to engage in order to be healed, obtain peace of mind and experience wholeness.

Confess Your Sins to One Another

Confession is the verbal (or written) admission of a crime, misdeed, fault or sin. It is acknowledging to one another that things aren’t good, and you are struggling, sinning and sick about it.

Interestingly, before James gives the instruction to confess, he tells those who are sick to call on elders (mature believers) in the church to be a witness to the healing journey. This illustrates the reality that we are healed, strengthened and matured in the community. James makes it clear that confession is to other believers in the admission of sin and not just to God in prayer. In other words, we need each other.

Pray for Each Other

Prayer is bringing people and situations to the attention of God and to each other. We know God knows everything; however, when we acknowledge our need and the needs of others to God, we are placing our trust in His ability to move on our behalf and bring about a good resolution.

There is something very encouraging and empowering in hearing someone raise their voice to God on your behalf. It brings life and hope to an otherwise hopeless and discouraging situation.

Prayer, like confession, needs to be verbalized for maximum benefit to those who are hearing and receiving. There is no substitute for speaking out loud. It magnifies the words and instills grace to the situation.

Be Healed

James reminds us that confession and prayer will produce a powerful result - healing. He even goes as far as saying that prayer continues working even after the one praying has finished speaking. In other words, we pray and then the prayer goes to work on our behalf. What a beautiful thing.

God designed us to have free will. When we use that will to verbalize our sins, that action also heals us. And really, confession is good for the soul and essential for our walk with Him.

Good for the Body, Soul and Mind

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” - Proverbs 18:21, ESV 

Words have power. In fact, Proverbs 18:21 reminds us that our words can be life-giving or deadly. Verbalizing our confession has the power to free us from the strongholds of sickness, sin, isolation and torment.

Sharing our struggle with someone we trust and receiving their unconditional love, acceptance and grace assures us that we are not alone, and we are loved. This enables us to embrace hope, receive healing and pursue purpose. Confession really is good for the soul.

Want more? Check out the GCU theology and ministry blog page and our theology degree programs. To start your educational journey at our Christian college, click on the Request Info button at the top of your screen for more details.

* Retrieved from: Writing Explained, What Does Confession is Good for the Soul Mean? in June 2021

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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