Much of what Augustine had written in his Confessions does not resonate with a generation convinced that they have to learn how to believe in and to like themselves:
- By confessing our own miserable state and acknowledging your mercy towards us, we open our hearts to you, so that you may free us wholly, as you have already begun to do. Then we shall no longer be miserable in ourselves but will find true happiness in you (Book XI:1).
Augustine represents what is pejoratively called “dirty rotten sinner” religion. Instead of building himself up so that he could feel good about himself, it seems that Augustine was doing the very opposite thing – groveling in his “miserable state.”
However, according to Augustine, the way down was really the way up to finding “true happiness.”
How can this be? When we humble ourselves to make a complete confession of our sins, it is like lancing a festering sore, squeezing out the puss, and exposing it to the light, The festering sore cannot simply be covered with some positive affirmations like, “I am not going to worry about it. It will go away on its own.” Instead, it must be cleansed.
Our relationship with our Savior must also be regularly cleansed, or it too will fester and possibly poison our entire spirit. The Psalmist wrote about this cleansing:
· For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. (Psalm 32:3-5; ESV)
Any form of healing must address the underlying problem. In the case of our relationship with God, it always begins by going to the root of our alienation from our Healer by confessing our sins.