Opening the Gate of Guilt
Researchers at the University of Toronto reported that people who are suffering from a guilty conscience experience "a powerful urge to wash themselves." To actually study this effect, the researchers asked volunteers to recall past sins. They were then given the opportunity to wash their hands as a symbol of cleansing their conscience. Those who had recalled their sins washed their hands at "twice the rate of study subjects who had not really thought about past sins.
The Bible indicates that the only way of dealing with sin is confession. In the Old Testament, one of the ways the Israelite population cleanse themselves and maintained purity before God and in their community was by confessing their sins. To confess means "to speak the same; to agree with; to admit the truth." When the people confessed to God, they were not telling Him anything He didn't already know. However, their confession was a demonstration of a change of heart. Refusing to confess their sins allowed sin to take total control within their lives and community.
Simply admitting our sin opens the gate of guilt so that we can have forgiveness, joy, and peace. If we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive (1 John 1:9).