In Step Four we began to challenge our behaviors and addictions as we have reached down and identified the root cause of our compulsive addictive behaviors. Step Five now calls for an open disclosure of the wrongful behaviors we have uncovered. Realizing that we may encounter feelings of shame and guilt, we must commit to move forward boldly if any significant changes are to be made in the way we have been living.
Part of Step Five is to share our inventory with God. Through prayer, we confess to Heavenly Father our personal responsibility for our past behaviors. As we do this, we begin to feel the burden of weight lifted from our past wrongful actions. By admitting that we are responsible for our actions we become able to have a measure of control over them. We now feel free to do whatever may be necessary to change our behavior. Our humble prayer of admission and recognition of our sinful past will open a door to the Savior, enabling Him to enter in so He may heal our hearts and restore our lives. This simple act initiates the process of repentance.
No doubt, the most difficult part of this step is the sharing of our moral inventory, the exact nature of our wrongs, with another person. Though disclosing our inventories with a close friend or associate is entirely appropriate, eventually, when the time is right, we will need to confess the ungodly behaviors of our past to our Priesthood Leader. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Bishop is “the common judge in Israel.” The Bishop holds the keys of repentance and he will assist us in reconciling our sinful behaviors before God. He is responsible for judging Church members who have transgressed God’s laws. Remember, however, that it is only Jesus Christ, because of His Atonement, who holds the keys of forgiveness.
The blessing attached to working Step Five is relief from the burden of sin, shame, and guilt that we have been carrying. The healing process of repentance starts to take place and our desire for a change of heart allows the Savior to open the way before us.
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
How can confessing your faults to another, and praying for another, help you to heal?
The scriptures teach us that we are to confess our sins (see D&C 19:20), our iniquity (see Psalms 32:5), and our faults (see James 5:16). Since God knows everything to begin with, why would He require us to confess to Him?
“...verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, forgive sins unto those who confess their sins before me, and ask forgiveness…”
What do we learn about the nature and character of God as we pray to confess our sins and weaknesses to the Lord?
What does confession do for you and your compulsive nature?
“And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”
Forgiveness from the Lord is the result of great personal effort. It takes courage to face the reality of inappropriate behavior, to take responsibility for the wrongful actions of the past and to accept the consequences of that wrongful behavior. What efforts are you making at this time to take ownership of your inappropriate behavior?
“...they took their swords, and all the weapons...and they did bury them up deep
in the earth.”
Taken from the story of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, a powerful lesson is taught by a group of people who came to recognize the consequences of their personal behaviors. How does the honest acceptance of your personal confession help you to “bury the weapons” of your character?
“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth, and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”
On March 29, 1992 in an address given at BYU, Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles taught that the Lord has designated the Bishop to be the common judge in Israel. Elder Packer said,
“If your transgression is serious, and your conscience will tell you whether it is or not, seek out the Bishop. The Bishop represents the Lord in extending forgiveness for the Church.”
What are your feelings and concerns at the prospect of visiting with your Bishop?
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
How does knowing that God will stay with you and strengthen you at all times, even during the difficult process of confession, bring you peace and comfort?