Nuts and Bolts of Confession
Why Confess Our Sin:
The glory of Jesus is at stake in our lives. Glory is the revealing of how great Jesus is. This is at stake in two ways, when we choose not to confess our sins.
- By sinning, we have said something else is more valuable than Jesus. We have chosen it rather than trusting, loving, obedience to Him. Confessing our sin to Him and others is saying this is not true. We were wrong, that which we hoped to attain in our sin is not better than Jesus.
- Confessing our sin proclaims that Jesus’ death and resurrection is sufficient for our forgiveness. Because of this we can be transparently honest with God and others. To withhold confession of sin is to say that Jesus did not accomplish what He intended to accomplish on the cross, the forgiveness of our sins. To withhold confession of our sin is to say that Jesus did not actually give us His righteous obedience as our own in His obedience and resurrection.
If we do not confess our sin to God and close friends in our church body, we are saying that our sin is better than Jesus, and that His death and resurrection is not sufficient for our forgiveness. He is better. We are completely and finally forgiven by faith in His life, death, and resurrection.
Confessing sin is like a deep refreshing breath because things are set right: Jesus, again, is declared the most wonderful thing in your life.
How to Confess Our Sins:
There are many ways to confess sins, below is one biblical pattern I have found helpful. We are sinful people, doing sinful things. In the confession of sin, we must address both realities.
- Confess the action of your sin specifically (“doing sinful things”). Confess the what of your sin. Think through your day, or after the immediate circumstance of sin, to confess the tangible details. I have found writing the specifics of my sin helpful in honestly facing my reality, receiving forgiveness, and moving towards joyful obedience.
Write it: What have you done? What have you not done? What did you say or not say? What did you think? What did you desire? How did you react? What have you loved? How have you treated others? How have you treated God? How have you used your time? How have you viewed people? How have you interacted with those who are far from God?
- Confess the motive of your sin honestly (“sinful people”). Confess the why of your sin. Sin sprouts from a distrust or undervaluing of God. Think and pray through why you have done, or not done, these things. Where do you not believe the good news of Christ? Where is He not enough for you?
Ex. I found myself angry with my kids, especially when other areas of my life where more tense or out of control. Over time I realized through confessing this action, why I was short tempered with them. I felt like I deserved full and immediate response. I did not believe the gospel, that I actually deserve the full and immediate wrath of God, hell and judgment. Yet, I have been rescued by grace. I don’t deserve anything; my motivations were off and self seeking. This led to confessing my anger (what) and my entitlement (why) and living in grace motivated obedience to patiently love and shape my children. Now when a screaming 3yr old wakes me up at 2am, I often remind myself that this precious (loud) child is much more than I actually deserve, which is hell.
To Whom Should I Confess:
There is one Mediator between God and men/women, Jesus Christ. Therefore, we must confess our sins to Christ (Heb 4.14-16). Though we are totally forgiven once for all in Jesus’ death, dishonesty in our relationship (unconfessed sin) hinders the enjoyment and influence of Christ in our lives.
James 5.16 and Matthew 5.21-24 commands us to confess our sins to each other, restoring relationship, health and wholeness to that which was broken by our sinful actions. We must restore relationship with those we have wronged, confessing the what and why of our actions and motivations.
We must confess to Christ and those we have sinned against. It also is wise to confess sins to someone in your church body (immediate context) with whom you have an ongoing friendship.