Since September, I’ve reviewed the first four steps of the Addiction Recovery Program the Church has set up for those struggling with various addictions. This program could also be called Repentance, because that’s what it is. Repentance helps us recover our spiritual light so we can see God as He is and feel peace.
The first four steps have been covered in earlier posts:
Now we will cover step 5.
When we reach this stage in the repentance process, we are ready to admit to our weaknesses, failings, addictions…sins. We’ve discovered the truth and realize how far these have placed us from God. Now is the time to confess to ourselves, our Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, to proper priesthood authority if necessary, and to others the exact nature of our wrongs.
No more secrets.
Satan would have us lie to ourselves and others about our flaws. He would have us hide and lock them up, but keeping secrets binds us to the Dark Side (forgive my Star Wars reference—but it was a pretty awesome movie).
Confession begins a process of disclosure where we express our remorse with friends, family, and others who have been affected by our sins or addictions. When we do this, we can start repairing and mending broken relationships. Confession also involves seeking forgiveness from the Lord through prayer and through any necessary priesthood channels in the Church.
In Step 4 (Truth), we acknowledged that we had a spiritual wound.
In this step (Confession), we begin to cleanse that wound so it doesn’t fester and infect our whole soul.
I’ll be honest…confession can be scary. Just thinking of laying yourself bare can be daunting enough to decide to bag this step and move on to another step that might seem less humiliating.
But don’t do that, no matter how tempting it sounds. Don’t cross to the Dark Side. You’ve come this far. Take a few more steps in faith, and you’ll be surprised at how much weight leaves you when you finish confessing.
If you’re still frightened, ask the Lord for help. He’ll give you the courage and strength you need to commit to a new life based firmly on telling and living the truth. I love this quote by President Spencer W. Kimball:
Repentance can never come until one has bared his soul and admitted his actions without excuses or rationalizations. . . . Those persons who choose to meet the issue and transform their lives may find repentance the harder road at first, but they will find it the infinitely more desirable path as they taste of its fruits (The Gospel of Repentance, Ensign, Oct. 1982, 4).
This is true, because after confession we have nothing to hide. No more secrets. We’ve outwardly demonstrated our desire to “give away all [our] sins” (Alma 22:18) so that we can receive a greater knowledge of God’s love and the love and support of many good people who rally around us.
- Begin to seek forgiveness
- Counsel with the bishop as needed
- Be honest with God, yourself, and others who are trustworthy
While only the Lord can forgive sins, these priesthood leaders play a critical role in the process of repentance. They will keep your confession confidential and help you throughout the process of repentance. Be completely honest with them. If you partially confess, mentioning only lesser mistakes, you will not be able to resolve a more serious, undisclosed transgression. The sooner you begin this process, the sooner you will find the peace and joy that come with the miracle of forgiveness. (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference , 134)
- Let peace come into your life
Occasionally you may observe individuals who seem to continually rehearse their sins and shortcomings or the sins others have committed against them. They are always confessing, but never finding peace.
Do not confuse step 5 with an obsessive desire to dwell on negative things. The intent of confession is exactly the opposite. We take step 5 not to hold on to the things we confess, but to begin to distinguish evil from good for ourselves and to choose good.
So take heart and keep stepping toward the light. Shun the Dark Side. Satan’s plan never works out well for those who follow Him. His whole goal is to make us miserable like unto himself. That is reason enough to cling to the light and make Repentance Recovery part of your life.
We are all addicts in a way. Some might have succumbed to drugs, pornography, or other physically harmful substances; but all of us have succumbed to sin in one way or another.
We all have need of these steps. Honesty. Hope. Trust in God. Truth. Confession. As we progress in our journey toward the light, we will be strengthened by God and enabled to be more powerful than the Dark Side could ever imagine.
May the Force of God be with you.