1 John 1:8-9 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

When I was growing up, we always had dogs, a habit I continue to this day. Of course, that meant housebreaking. And Dad taught us: if the dog does his business in the house, rub his nose in it, then put him out. Very typical method of that day and time, and it was never done with anger or cruelty.

So to my childish brain, the whole concept of confession seemed cruel to me, like an owner rubbing a dog’s nose in their own mess. Well, who wants to confess and get their nose rubbed in it? I think I’ll avoid the humiliation and just not do (insert sin here) again. Oh, how much I had to learn about forgiveness!

Let’s start with the true nature of confession, Word-Nerd style.

My trusty Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible says that the Greek word we translate as confess is homologeo, from the two words homou (together/with), and lego (to say). It means, “to agree, consent.” I also like their definition “to speak agreeably to fact and truth.” The word can even be used for public praise. Not a word about humiliation in the concept. Sure, there may be some humility, if you’re having to agree to the truth of something you’ve done wrong. But there is no humiliation!

According to Webster’s New World College Dictionary, our English word confess comes to us from the Latin (through the French). Com-/Con- means “with” and fateri means “acknowledge.” [Do not, I repeat, do not, ask me how we got from fateri to fess. I report, I don’t necessarily explain. lol] Yet again, no humiliating nose-rubbing mentioned.

So what does God do with a confession, if there’s no nose-rubbing involved in the whole concept? Back to 1 John, if you please: “He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

That’s it.

That’s all.

Remember the father’s outstretched arms for the prodigal son?

God is so like that.

Believe me. I’ve tested Him on it.



WORD NERD CHALLENGE OF THE WEEK: Find another word using the fess/fateri root word and explain how its definition uses the concept of acknowledgement.

[BONUS: Here’s a much more useful and humane way to housebreak your dog. They don’t really understand why you’re rubbing their nose in it, and because of their heightened sense of smell, it’s not really a very kind method, anyway–both things were not understood by dog trainers in Dad’s time:  http://www.clickertraining.com/housetraining]