“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16).
Though Mable forgave Biff, she neglected to tell him that she was sinning against him because of what he did to her. Though she understood that it is never right to sin in response to being sinned against, she did sin against Biff—her initial reaction to his sin.
A double confession is when the one who sinned against you confesses his sin and asks for forgiveness, and you confess your sin and ask for forgiveness. Because of fallenness, “double sinning” happens more often than you might think. A husband, for example, can be harsh or unkind toward his wife. God brings conviction, and he repents. But rather than working through all the ramifications of his sin, the wife harbors sinful anger toward him. He confesses, but she does not.
There is no one-flesh reconciliation because of the “unresolved fracture” in their marriage. It is unwise to dismiss, justify, or ignore any sin in your one flesh. Sin is sin regardless of who does it, and there is only one right response to its encroachments: confess, forgive, reconcile. A well-loved wife lets her husband know about her sin and seeks his forgiveness, too. These attitudes and actions harmonize them, which releases them to enjoy the unencumbered fullness of what a “one flesh” union should be. Sounds great, but what if your spouse does not do this?
Many spouses have shared how their mates were brutish or insensitive. These spouses do not have the liberty to have this kind of dialogue because of their spouses’ retaliations. What these partners are admitting is a legitimate fear. If the husband and wife are not on the same “confessional page,” the stubborn spouse will inhibit the willing spouse from being vulnerable—a condition of confession, which is why every home should be a context of grace that permits the drawing out of each other.
Create a Context of Grace – Release your spouse from the fear of you by creating a context of grace in your home. Encourage and invite your spouse to bring critique into your life. Make it easy for your partner to serve you. After they critique you, support them and express your gratitude for their corrective care. Your spouse married you because they love you. Respect them enough to let them help you with your deficiencies (Genesis 2:18).
Carefully Draw Out Your Spouse After You Repent – As you perceive your spouse’s sin reaction to yours, humbly come alongside them with insightful questions. Never forget how the log in your eye is so much larger than the speck you are examining (Matthew 7:3-5). The context of grace you have created will release your spouse to respond to your redemptive questions.
The first five years of our marriage, I never confessed any sin to my wife. Remarkably, it did not occur that my lack of confession was tearing away at our relationship. As God began to dismantle my self-righteousness, I began to see how my habituation “swept things under the rug.” My first confession was to God. My second was to my wife. Then it was time to create an environment of grace that freed her to be vulnerable to me about her sins.
Talk to your spouse about the importance of an “environment of grace” in your home. Discuss how you both can work together to make it a place where everyone can confess their sins to each other.