I have learned that the power of temptation and addiction can be broken by dragging our sins into the light by confessing them. In spring 2005, I led a group of Christian University students on a short-term mission trip to Montreal, Quebec. Our team of ten students split up in the evenings, staying with different families from the small church with which we were working; I ended up staying with the pastor and his wife. One evening, I asked whether I could watch their television late that night to catch a University of Illinois basketball game—the Illini were progressing in the NCAA Final Four tournament. The pastor found the game for me, then went to bed. At half-time, I flipped through the channels only to happen on a channel airing a panel talk show in French. I was shocked when the show cut to scenes of explicit sex.
I wish I could say that I immediately fled back to the basketball channel, but I ended up watching more of the pornographic show than of the game. I still remember how horrible I felt later that night when I went to bed—as well as the next morning, when I awoke. I felt dirty, defeated, and worthless. I thought Here I am, a Christian university professor on a mission trip, being hosted in a pastor’s house—and I spent much of the night watching porn! How much worse can you get! Satan had a field day with me, shouting, “Mike, you are worthless! God doesn’t love you anymore! God can’t use you any more in ministry!”
The accusations went on and on throughout the night and were still with me the next morning, only stronger. These accusations were so devastating, I knew I had to do something quickly or the burden of guilt would crush me. I knew in my heart that the only way I would be able to overcome these accusations would be to confess my sin before we left—not only to the Canadian pastor, but also to the team of students I had brought to Canada. I confessed to the Pastor the next morning and he graciously accepted it and prayed for me.
The hardest part was talking to the students. I will never forget sitting in a waiting area of the Montreal airport terminal with the team just before boarding our return flight and telling them I needed to confess something to them that I had done on the trip. That confession was one of the most humiliating of my entire life. The students were gracious to me, but I felt lower than low. I later learned how God could use a difficult confession to help set someone else free. Years later, one of the female students who had come with me on the trip confessed to me her own struggle with pornography, telling me that my confession had empowered her to confess it to me and to others. She was on a pathway to healing an addiction in her life because I had confessed my sin. I have learned that God can use our embarrassing confessions to help lead others to confession and healing.
Reflections: Have you committed a sin that seems too embarrassing to confess? Ask the Lord to give you the courage to confess it to someone. Your confession may not only bring healing to you, but it might end up helping someone else too.
Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.