Being a pastor’s wife, I have seen many people come clean over the years. It usually involves confessing to lying or stealing or cheating from years before. It could be a student confessing that he cheated on a test or lied about the reading he supposedly did or that he broke some school rule or other. It could be someone confessing that he slandered, harassed, or spread lies around about a teacher or co-worker or about a school or church. Or it may be confessing to stealing from a roommate, an employer,Â a friend or family member.
Sometimes coming clean means making restitution beyond the simple confession of wrong doing. It certainly requires returning the stolen article or money. But if the sin was cheating, it may mean that you will retroactively receive a poor grade. You could lose your degree or your job. If what you have done is really bad, you could even go to jail.
Coming clean takes courage and faith. It requires back bone because you have no guarantee how the confession will be received. But you are required to put things right, regardless of the outcome.Â Coming clean is evidence of a desire to have a clean conscience, which is connected to a desire to be right with God. I’ve never seen anyone regret coming clean. It is a huge relief to set the record straight. I have respect for the person who is putting things right because I know it isn’t an easy thing to do. But it is always the right thing to do.
Some people don’t want to come clean because they think it will hurt their family or their reputation. No doubt it will. But getting caught in sin will certainly hurt the family far more.Â Getting caught stealing or cheating or lying is a bad business. It never speaks well of the person, no matter what the excuse. If lying or cheating or stealing comes easily, this is a sign of spiritual decay. Putting things right is a sign of spiritual life.
Of course this takes wisdom. Sometimes coming clean is very complicated. If so, you may need your parents or your pastor to help you do it. Or, if you are the type who worries that maybe you saw the first letter of an answer to the test when someone walked past your desk in third grade, you should definitely get help before you go confessing to cheating.
So, to wrap this up. If you need to put things right, do it now. Don’t put it off. Don’t wait to be caught. Return the stolen goods. Confess to the lie. Acknowledge the plagiarism or the cheating. God always blesses obedience. “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Cor. 7:10).