The Power of Confession in Marriage

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We recently heard from a guy who has re-dedicated his life to Jesus and confessed a lot of previous sin to his wife. He's made some steps to stop the behavior that was going on, but he says "I wasn't completely open with her. I told her that I had not cheated on her with anyone else." But he meant sexual intercourse and he continues, "The problem is I visited some massage parlors and messed around." He expressed that he feels really bad about it, but he doesn't want to hurt his wife anymore than he already has. So he's asking, "Should I tell her?"

OK. Yes, you should definitely tell her. It's great you've re-dedicated your life to the Lord and you're walking in the light with God; but you need to walk in the light with other people, especially your wife. The scripture says in 1 John 1:6-7, "If we say we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice 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 Christ his son cleanses us from all sin."


Can you talk more about walking in the light? You just talked about some incredible benefits that are listed in that verse. We're promised "fellowship with one another," "the blood of Jesus cleansing us from all sins," and I think that we've heard those verses so many times at this point we miss how amazing those benefits really are. So let's start with talking about the blessing of open fellowship with his wife.

Well first of all, I'd say there's joy of true intimacy that you can't have if you have all these walls built up and you're hiding from your wife. So all the skeletons are out of the closet and there's no more guilty fear; and with that, there's transparency. It's the only way to develop real fellowship with your wife. She can't have fellowship with an unreal person. Now you can really relate to your wife and you can learn to love one another - to enjoy one another as a couple that you just can't do if you're living in sin and in darkness.


What is God promising to us in the phrase "...and the blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanses us from all sin?”

I like to look at that as a New Testament answer to David's cry in Psalm 51, "Create in me a clean heart, oh God." With that it's much more than just freedom from guilt. God promises to cleanse from the guilt of sin which is necessary for our relationship with the Lord to be restored. But it's also talking about the idea of freedom and cleansing from the power of sin - both to deceive and enslave you, even as a believer. A third thing is the idea of cleansing you from the evil effects of your sin - the inward pollution and contamination where God literally cleanses your heart.


That's a lot more than just forgiveness. I think a lot of times we don't grasp the power of confession and forsaking; and that's really what you're talking about.

So let's say that you've convinced the guy, and he comes to the place where he actually wants to confess everything to his wife. What counsel would you give to him about the actual confession?

First of all, you need to pray. Pray that God would prepare your wife's heart to receive this devastating news that you're going to dump on her. Pray that she'd be ready to receive it and that God would already begin the healing process as you're speaking with her and being open and honest with her. In addition, you need to confess everything up front. Don't leave things for later on. They're going to devastate your wife and re-open the fresh wound. Tell her everything up front. Put it all on the table at once. But also, you don't have to be graphic and specific. It's unmerciful to your wife to know all the little details.


OK. So what would be like an example of that?

Say someone didn't have a physical relationship with a woman, but they were involved in an emotional affair - texting or online chatting. His wife needs to know that he was involved with this communication with a woman or multiple women. And she needs to know exactly what he did as far as how he was communicating with them, but without all the gory details of specifically what they were talking about in their conversation.


That makes sense. You're just trying to inform her of the kind of life that you are living without giving her a lot of details that would really torment her mentally?

I can start to see how this could really help the marriage. It really fosters that intimacy and it could help her to keep him accountable and come alongside of him in his ongoing struggles.

Yeah, and it also begins the healing process where he's being open even with his current struggles. As he's going through his own process of healing, she'll learn to trust him and to start developing that relationship of trust again that was lost because of his sin.


Now I'm assuming that this would only apply to a husband and wife relationship. What about a fiance relationship or a dating relationship? How would that change?

I would say in a regular dating relationship, yes you need to be accountable; but that would be more with your spiritual authority in your church. If the relationship is progressing to the point of considering marriage - especially if you are already engaged - she needs to know what's going on in your life. It's unfair for a woman to be looking at marriage not knowing who she's really marrying. You need to be open when it comes to that stage. You need to put things out there, especially if you're still walking through this stuff - if you're still overcoming it. Maybe you've experienced a measure of victory, but it's not completely out of your life. She needs to know about it much more so than if it's just something from your past.

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