James 5:16 (NKJV)16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Last week we learned that sickness is always a result of sin. As a result of our rebellion against God in the garden all evil things, including sin, sickness, and death, entered into human experience. As a result, when we are ill we are to look to God for healing, seeking his blessing and forgiveness through the voice of the Church.
Today James continues that exhortation and broadens it. He urges us, as the people of God, to confess our trespasses one to another. Why is this? Here’s the reason. Sins against our brothers and sisters are the most destructive to our personal health. While we can sometimes cover over our private sins for an extended period of time, living hypocritically, cherishing idols, etc. But when we sin against Sally, the consequences of my sin are right in front of me.
So I yell at my children – and what happens? I have to live not only with my own guilty conscience, I have to live with the estrangement that my yelling has created between me and my children. Sin destroys relationships. First and foremost it destroys our relationship with God. But sin also destroys our relationships with one another. And when relationships are destroyed, our health suffers as a result.
But notice that James holds out a great promise. Our ill health need not remain a fact of our existence. We can be healed. We can be made well. What is the cure? The cure is honest confession to one another and intercession for one another.
When you sin, go to the person against whom you sinned and ask their forgiveness. Reconcile the relationship. Do not permit the broken relationship to break your health as well. In Christ the broken relationship can be restored; and because the broken relationship is restored, our health need not suffer as a result.
But not only should we be confessing our sins to one another – we should be praying for those who have sinned against us. When our brother or sister comes and confesses a sin which they have committed against us, James exhorts us to pray for them. Pray for them that God would not only restore the relationship but preserve the health of our brother or sister. And the promise is that the effective, fervent prayer of the righteous man accomplishes much.
Reminded of our calling to confess our sins to one another, to deal with sin as it occurs rather than sitting on it and letting it destroy our health, let us confess our sins to the Lord and restore our relationship with Him.