#GrowWise. Moving From Sin and Shame to Confession and Renunciation.

January 28, 2015

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Proverbs 28:13-14  (read the whole chapter)

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
    but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

Blessed is the one who always trembles before God,
    but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.



Sin loves secrecy. Nurture a secret sin long enough and you will have an addiction– a habitual pattern of hiding, lying, denial and self deception. Addictions take on a life of their own and literally de-form people over the course of time. Sin always makes a person less. Sin always takes, never gives. It is the nature of sin to conceal itself. This is its greatest and most subversively dangerous strategy.

Sin’s strategy is to produce a kind of counterfeit repentance within us. Our broken way of dealing with sin is to magnify our inner remorse, to feel badly about ourselves and our behavior and to cover ourselves in shame. Rather than appropriately dealing with our guilt, we cover ourselves in shame until the storm has passed. We consider that these bad feelings toward ourselves somehow cover the cost of the behavior. Soon the cycle resets and the process repeats itself.

Little by little, with every pass through the cycle, the remnants of shame build up layer by later– like tartar on teeth or plaque in arteries. It leads to a condition the Bible calls “hardness of heart.” We become desensitized to sin and, over time, impervious to shame and our inner life slowly dies. And I’m not talking about alcoholics or sex addicts here. I’m talking about garden variety sinners like you and me. When something gets labeled as an “addiction” it becomes a convenient way to consider it’s someone else who has a more extreme problem than you do. In truth, addiction is nothing more or nothing less than habitually feeding our hunger and thirst for God with something or someone other than God. Addiction never starts as addiction. It starts with concealing small sins.

So what’s the answer?

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
    but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

Confession and renunciation. Confession really has little to do with our feelings of remorse, and it cannot be confused with mere “admission.” Confession does not mean self condemnation or self deprecation or self loathing or self anything really. The wisdom of confession is all about becoming extricated from the prison of self. Confession means agreeing with God about what is true. Confession means ever increasing unremitting honesty. It is living life in alignment with what is true. On the one hand we can make the confession, “Jesus is Lord.” On the other we can make the confession, “I have sinned against you, God and against (fill in the blank) by doing or not doing (fill in the blank).”

Confession breaks the pattern, but it takes renunciation to kill the cycle. Renounce is a very strong word. It’s actually something a person does when they are baptized. At baptism one is asked if they renounce sin and evil and injustice and the powers and principalities and so forth. To renounce something is to throw it on the ground and stomp on it and walk away from it, never to be in relationship again with the thing being renounced. Renunciation means a decisive termination. Far from a “feeling” word, renunciation is an act of the will.

The good news for those who confess and renounce? They receive mercy. Their heart becomes sensitized to the Holy Spirit. They live in an awe-filled reverence before God. They prosper.

Confession and renunciation aren’t ethereal mystical practices. They are road meets the rubber realities. They are good medicine that cures the soul. Sometimes we need the help of a pastor or friend in the process. The good news is you can do it right now. Sin is a colossal waste of time.

I’ll see you tomorrow in Proverbs 29.

P.S. Do these ideas bring other Scripture texts biblical concepts to mind? Please share them in the comments.


J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at

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Comments and Discussion

4 Responses

  1. JD I wish we could post this blog in every in box at the seminary. You have accurately unpacked sin, addiction, repentance – and understand that this is not pie in the sky kind of stuff. Without the help of God we cannot be free, and our false selves have so much capacity to deceive. Sometimes when a person is telling me how much the enemy of their soul is attacking them I ponder that they likely don’t need him to do this – we each have an almost unlimited capacity to deceive ourselves. Thank you for daring to go into Proverbs. How about Ecclesiastes next time? Marilyn

  2. Nothing from scripture but from Weight Watchers–I have had to face it, food is my drug of choice, I am a glutton! Have I totally conquered it, no. But what you wrote about remorse is true; it only perpetuates the problem. Weight Watchers has this take on sin–although they never call it that–the problem is not so much that a person sins but the guilt and remorse over the sin. The Weight Watcher philosophy is if you stumble, get back up, examine the circumstances that led to the stumble, learn from it, turn the page, move on. The best leader I encountered started every meeting with “Who needs to talk about what went wrong so they can be done with it and move on?” Although tracking food is a big part of the program, the teaching is, never document the major melt down, only document what went well.

  3. This Scripture was in my devotions yesterday taken from The Message, seems to flow with life change and the truth of sin. Psalm 19:11-14 There’s more: God’s Word warns us of dangerand directs us to hidden treasure.Otherwise how will we find our way?Or know when we play the fool?Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh!Keep me from stupid sins,from thinking I can take over your work;Then I can start this day sun-washed,scrubbed clean of the grime of sin.These are the words in my mouth;these are what I chew on and pray.Accept them when I place themon the morning altar,O God, my Altar-Rock,God, Priest-of-My-Altar.

  4. The good news for those who confess and renounce? They receive mercy. Their heart becomes sensitized to the Holy Spirit. They live in an awe-filled reverence before God. They prosper.
    Can you clarify what you mean with the last statement please…”They prosper.”