While We Were Still Sinners: What Happens When We Forget How to Confess?

By: Rev. Marissa Coblentz

When a muscle is unused for too long, it atrophies. It shrinks and weakens. Maybe you have seen this happen to yourself or a friend.

This can happen with our confessing muscle. We can fall into the habit of glossing over, justifying, ignoring, or dismissing our wrongdoing instead of simply confessing and repenting. We can fall into simplified perspectives of good guys and bad guys, heroes and villains, us and them. We are heroes who maybe sometimes make insignificant mistakes. They are villains who are thoroughly evil and can do no right. Heroes don’t need to confess.

Our journey during these forty days offers us the chance to enter spiritual occupational therapy, to begin, slowly and carefully, to re-engage our confession muscle. Free of our familiar surroundings, our familiar stories start to grow stale and hollow. Maybe we are not heroes after all? Maybe the “insignificant” attitudes, habits, actions, and words are a bigger problem than we first thought.

But all of that can be overwhelming. So, where do we start when we don’t know how or what to confess? The following scriptures offer us both a confession and a response. Drawing from John 8, Psalm 82, Jeremiah 8, and Romans 5, read these words of call and response aloud as the first step towards confession.

You are the light of the world,

But we chose darkness.

You came from the Father,

But we did not know you. (John 8)

How long will we judge unjustly

And show partiality to the wicked?

We confess that we have not defended the weak and the orphan

Or upheld the cause of the poor and the oppressed.

We confess that we have not rescued the weak and the needy

Or delivered them from the hand of the wicked. (Psalm 82)

We are all adulterers,

A crowd of unfaithful people.

We go from one evil to evil

And do not know the Lord.

We have taught our tongues to speak lies

And we commit iniquity and are too weary to repent. (Jeremiah 9)

We are powerless and weak.

We are ungodly. (Romans 5)

Come, in your mercy.

Forgive us our sins and forgive those who sin against us.


Maybe it was hard to pray these words. Maybe it was hard to confess that we have done wrong.

Even so, maybe these words opened your heart to see that confession is not the worst thing. It is far worse to believe we are heroes when we are actually someone else’s villain.

Take some time to either read through this prayer of confession again or to ask God to show you places in your own life where you have not embodied God’s goodness and need to offer your own confession.

Sometimes life forces us into the wilderness, but during Lent, we willingly make the trek because when we do, we remember to be people defined by confession and repentance and by the grace and mercy of God.

Excerpt From: www.aplainaccount.org. “In the Wilds: Remember, Repent, Reimagine, and Receive.”

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