…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

The Value of Confession

By Rex Goode


An analysis of Psalms 32 regarding the value of confession and how it helps to overcome shame.

When we speak of confession, we tend to think of it in its narrowest sense, which is that of laying out our sins before church authorities or before God. I believe that the principle of confession speaks of a way of life rather than scattered acts of submission to ecclesiastical and divine authority.

To me, confession is the system whereby we purify ourselves through a constant purging of the debilitating effects of shame. It is a daily mode of living that expels the dishonesty in our lives, leaving us as humble creatures without guile. Guile is willful deceit, intended to hide the true purposes we hold in our hearts.

We have found that humans have the capacity to delude ourselves and that it seems to be a trait that we who struggle with same-sex attraction are adept at doing. Hidden from our own view, our corrupt plans are developed and perfected until we spring them on ourselves with devastating effects.

If we develop the habit of revealing ourselves to trusted friends, family, and mostly our own selves, we will find that the admission is full of sweet liberation. It is our tendency to hide our transgressions, yet we find constant evidence in the scriptures that to hide our sins is wrong.

D&C 121:37 states:

…but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or authority of that man.

Typically we think of the above as the punishment of the perpetrators of unrighteous dominion, but note the operator “or” which shows the seriousness of covering up our sins. While we should not cover our sins, the Lord can and does in his own ways. Psalms 32 is a beautiful song about the value of confession, upon which I would like to comment.

1 A Psalm of David, Maschil. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

As I said, the Lord can cover our sins, but not in the sense of hiding them, but in the same sense that someone might “sign for” or “cover” an indebtedness.

2 Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

The man in whose spirit is no guile is a man with no deception, in whom “what you see is what you get” is the credo of his life. Such a man keeps no secrets, no hidden purpose, and is known and loved by many.

3 When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.

4 For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.

How well I remember these same feelings, hiding my personal truth from everyone, even my own self. But, my “bones”, the core of my body and limbs cried out with the truth that I could not effectively hide. That truth would not leave me alone.

5 I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

How liberating the day I took a searching look into my soul and recognized that the transgressor had not escaped his past, that ignoring what I had done would not stay the execution that was my due. I “came forward”, not “came out”.

6 For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.

7 Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.

Hiding in myself was the supreme lie. Who can hide from the Lord? In avowing the truth, I ceased to hide in myself that dark secret of my thoughts, and now hide in the Lord. Hiding in the Lord does not keep my secret, but it makes the Lord the keeper of my safety. When who and what I am sit on the surface with the Lord as my fortress, I am protected from all that would trouble me and my lips are free to speak about the miraculous deliverance afforded me by his grace.

8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.

This is what the Lord promises those who make confession their daily habit. The Spirit is not grieved with our silent lies and we are in a position to learn all truth.

9 Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee. 

In confession there is freedom. In disavowance we are as beasts of burden, slaves to our master’s whims.

10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about.

11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.

How can we say we have trusted in the Lord if we have sought to hide ourselves from him? Even when we know we cannot hide from God, we still can seek to hide from ourselves and others. This is where we fail to show our trust. Our fears of rejection should others know us for who we are betray that we do not understand that the Lord is the true and faithful witness who will surround us with mercy and forgiveness to the degree that we will have no need of the mercy and forgiveness of anyone else.

I fully recognize that many have valid reasons for retaining anonymity. I did not intend these comments to make anyone feel that they must do otherwise. I do not believe that public confession is a requirement. Yet, there are those in our lives who have every right to know what is at the center of our actions, who deserve to have the one gift we may have withheld, that being the real us. Among those who deserve to have this gift, the most important recipient is ourselves.

Let us break the cycle of shame and hard-heartedness by revealing to ourselves, loved ones, authorities, injured parties, and formally to God the exact nature of ourselves and our actions.

Cast thy burden upon the Lord and he shall sustain thee. (Psalms 55:22)

1 person likes this post.

2 Responses to “The Value of Confession”

  1. cm said:

    I have really enjoyed this post, Rex. I have come back to it and read it several times. I am still working to digest all of the insights you have given here.

    And, I like how your post goes hand in hand with the scriptures in the New Testament also, that “if you would judge yourself, you would not be judged.” Part of our earthly mortality, I believe, is to KNOW ourselves, do this “daily confessing” you wrote so eloquently about, and become purified by becoming pure.

    I also took great comfort in these two sentences you wrote: “This is what the Lord promises those who make confession their daily habit. The Spirit is not grieved with our silent lies and we are in a position to learn all truth.”

    Thank you.

  2. Rex Goode said:

    Thanks so much. It helps me to know that it helped you.

Leave a Reply

If your comment is a support question, please post it at the forums.