The Sin Confess Cycle is bad theology and a faulty approach to effective Christian living. Most ministers are susceptible to it none the less. This cycle goes something like this: sin and confess, sin and confess, sin and confess and on and on in mindless repetitive cadence. Of course John taught us to confess our sins but the trap of the Sin Confess Cycle is confessing the same sin over and over while this sin becomes ever more engrained in our lives and deepens its strangle hold on our person and our Christianity. Despite the emphasis of Scripture on stopping our sins, not just confessing them it is easy to lull our selves into ever increasing self deception as we use the Sin Confess Cycle. The more we deal with sin by merely confessing it without stopping it the more we set our selves up to become imperceptibly but powerfully hooked on the sin.
For example, one may seek to confess his lust each time he has lustful thoughts. But lust as sin has a life of its own. When it is confessed and repeated over and over the very repetition of the sin becomes enslaving to the sinner even if the sinner is a sincerely repentant pastor. The repetition of the lust (despite it being confessed) builds up tolerance to the lust and because of the enslaving nature of sin seeks more titillating objects to feed the lust. This growing tolerance and the progressive nature of sin enslaves even as it is confessed. This progressive enslavement or addiction as it is commonly called is true whether the sin is arguably non physical like lust or actually physical like drinking alcohol.
If a person gets drunk regularly but is careful to confess it just as regularly he may well be regularly forgiven but he is likely to become a forgiven chemically dependent alcoholic. Every addictive process or substance carries with it all the blinding of self deception called denial. Assuming the sin is properly handled because it is confessed feeds this denial. The addiction takes over while we believe we are dealing with it.
Stopping the sin and effectively dealing with its addictive power in our lives is ignored by the Sin Confess Cycle but must become the real objective for a pastor to grow in grace and freedom. This faulty cycle also hurts ministers two more ways. One, the ever deepening hold of sin creates increased shame. There is always extra shame to go around for pastors who get hooked. Two, the Sin Confess Cycle allows ministers to avoid more useful methods of dealing with enslaving addictions. Telling the truth to safe people, seeking the support of others as a hurting member of the Body of Christ (not a leader but a member) and recognizing our neediness as powerless persons who must humbly rely on our Higher Power are all truncated by the false understanding that confession is all one does with sin.
If you are caught in the Sin Confess Cycle your telling the truth to someone safe is a great beginning. At CRN we are discovering few pastors are able to effectively address the powerful pull of enslavement which addictive processes and chemicals induce. If addiction is to be moved toward sobriety, whether one is hooked on lust or liquor, the well intentioned pastor and God are not going to achieve sobriety on their own. It will require what God has already required: honesty in community—not repeated confession.
If you are caught in the Sin Confess Cycle you are likely hooked in something else as well. It is time to break the shackles and move toward freedom. Go to the Finding Help page of this web site and start telling the truth to a safe someone who cares, someone who knows the strangle hold of destructive cycles and has taken the step you must take.
“…you are likely hooked in something else as well” I am finding this to be all too true of myself. I have been clean and sober for better than five years now, and am beginning to discover that the underlying issues that I used drugs and booze to hide from are FAR more insidious and at least as compulsive, if not more so.