If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. Psalm 66:18, KJV
The issue never really goes away: How much should you confess to your husband or wife about your past life? Or even your present life? Following a series dealing with the consequences of infidelity, we were bombarded with several variations of the same question. One person wrote, "I have confessed my sins to the Lord and truly experienced the joy of His forgiveness as I claimed His blessings, but I always thought I did not need to confess to my husband or to anyone. Am I wrong to believe that I'm completely forgiven of my sins even without having to confess this to my husband?"
First, confront the issue of confession and God's forgiveness. The Bible says that sin means you have violated God's standard. You have gone astray "as sheep" turning from His will to your selfish will, and because you have sinned against Him, your confession of wrongdoing needs to be to Him. And what does God do? He forgives you and treats the offense as though it had never happened. John wrote, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). That's good news in any language.
In Isaiah 43:25, God gave a promise. He says, "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more." OK, so God doesn't remember, but you do.
Many feel that if they don't confess infidelity to a husband or a wife, God will not forgive them either. Actually, this is a gray area. God's forgiveness doesn't depend upon your confession to anyone but to Himself. So, should you "tell everything?"
True, there is a feeling of purging when you confess; but the damage that it may do to your relationship – that includes the pain of betrayal that your spouse will feel – may well offset the emotional good that comes by your feeling better about confessing what you have done. If you have broken off a relationship, put the wrong behind you, and know it is under the blood, forgiven by God and your heart has been cleansed by His Spirit; then put the affair behind you once and for all. If you feel you must confess, talk to a trusted professional--a pastor, a counselor, a spiritual leader who will keep your confidence. But again, if you are reasonably sure that your husband or wife will find out, you had better be the one to tell him or her--not someone else.
With confession, there is usually reason to shut things off, so if you lack the strength to say goodbye forever, you had better get help – whether it comes from your mate or someone else who will hold you accountable. So, the issue of what or what not to say is not always clear, but what you need to do is clear, and that is to close the door forever to a relationship which you know is wrong. Then make straight paths for your feet. My father-in-law, Guy Duffield, used to say that secret sin should be confessed secretly, private sin should be confessed privately, and public sin should be confessed publicly. So you have to decide where you are, ask God for strength and then do right.
The Psalmist said, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me" (Psalm 66:18), meaning where there is wrongdoing and I hold on to it, God doesn't hear me. The relationship is crippled and I need to confess to Him and turn to Him for help and strength. It's still true.
Resource reading: Psalm 51:1-19