By Pastor Terrell Pugh, Apr 1 2014 12:52AM
The importance of confession is not spoken about or taught in modern Christian circles. There is also a lack of understanding of what confession is and its usefulness. In this teaching we will take a look at what confession is, what it is not, its importance and how it is applied to our lives today as Christians.
First let us take a look at what confession is not. Typically when most hear the term confession, thoughts of sitting inside a room separated by a partition with a priest on the other side, comes to mind. This is the Catholic sacrament of confession or “Penance.” The problem with penance is that the Catholic Church places an emphasis on the person’s actions of confession being an act of atonement. This position is inconsistence with the atoning work of Christ on the Cross, that was done once for all sins, therefore there is no need for additional atonement. (Hebrews 9:28a). It is also taught that confessions to a priest reconciles man to God, and that we are restored to grace each time we confess to a priest. This also is inconsistence with 2 Corinthians 5:18 which tells us, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ...” Reconciliation, forgiveness and grace have already been dealt with and given to all men through Jesus’ atonement. There is no need for additional help from man; this is done so no one can boast and say they had a part in God forgiving them of their sins, it was done by Jesus alone (Ephesians 2:9).
Confession is also sometimes mistaken for reciting and verbally listing your sins. Which carries the same idea that a person’s actions of confession being an act of atonement. Many people, when they pray or interact with God, attempt to verbally cite all their sins; sometimes even saying “unknown sins.” This action is often done through a position of repentance, that is to say, some believers repent for every known and unknown sin they have committed each time they interact with God. Admitting to a sin and attempting to go through an official list of sins are two different actions, with two different understandings.
This practice comes from a misunderstanding of what repentance truly is. Repentance happens once at salvation, and is the act of changing your mind. Similar to making a life decision, once you make the choice to do something, it’s done. Everything else you do is simply in support of your initial decision. Likewise, is accepting what Christ did for you on the cross and believing (faith) that Jesus’ death was good enough for all your sins, once and for all (Romans 6:9, 1 Peter 3:18, Hebrews 10:10). This idea is made clear in throughout Romans 6, that we are no longer servants of sin, but servants of righteousness; we have been made alive with Jesus. We are no longer in slavery to every sin we commit; there is neither guilt nor condemnation. Peter also advises us to think of sin how God thinks of it, rejecting sin and living the will of God.
1 Peter 4:1-2 “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.” If we are dead to sin and living the will of God, why would we want to take on the burden of attempting to re-atone for our sins; this work has already been done.
Understanding 1 John 1:9
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Is this scripture instructing us to voice our sins to God every time we sin, so that we will be forgiven? I surely hope not, since the scripture does not say anything about the sins we do not know we committed or have forgotten. In addition the scripture say says “all,” which would beg the question way would you need to keep asking for forgiveness, over and over again? This idea would also be inconsistence with the entirety of scripture, which tells us that Jesus died once, for all of our sins. 1 John 1:9, when read in context of the entire chapter, is simply communicating the idea of initial repentance; when a person first comes to Jesus how, he forgives them of ALL of their sins; it is the picture of expiation.
This type of thinking creates a lifestyle of bondage. It causes many believers to feel that once they have committed a sin, they have fallen from God’s grace and must get saved again. The number of repeat alter calls from people “giving their lives to Christ every Sunday” is proof of this. Once you have repented (changed your mind), and made up in your heart who Jesus is…in the words of Christ, “It Is Finished!” You do not have to hit the reset button every time you fail; you do not have to start over your walk with Jesus; You do not have go back to the beginning, tear down your house and lay the foundation all over again! Jesus died once for sin!
So then, what exactly should you do if you fall into temptation and sin?
Confession in the plain sense of the word, simply means to admit. As Christians there are several things that we confess; our faith in Jesus (Romans 10-1-13), our faults (James 5:16), secret sins, (Psalms 32:3) and disputes we have with our fellow laborers (Matthew 5:23-24¬¬). In general confession is not limited to just one area of the believer’s life. Confession, or admitting to something, is a lost practice that every Christian should relearn and become humble enough to do it.
David tells us in Psalms 32:1-3, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.” Here we see that keeping in those secret sins and struggles will only destroy us. This is further supported by the words of James, in James 5:16a, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.” James is giving us instruction for a healthy Christian lifestyle and relationship with others and God. It is important that we get out, voice and share our struggles with other believers; transparency leads to healing. How can you ever get free from a struggle if no one ever knew what you were struggling with? How would others know what to pray for? How would others know what to do or not to do around you?
When a believer sins, the first thing they must understand is that Jesus has already took their place and paid the ultimate penalty of God’s full wrath, for that sin. Then, since they have already repented when they initially made the decision that Jesus’s sacrifice was enough and to follow him; they simply confess or “admit” they have veered from the narrow path, then return to their walk with Christ. The admission or confession can be done is any manner, as long as it’s understood that your confession is not saving you nor is it granting you grace…you are save by grace through faith, which is the gift of God!
The importance of confession with a group of fellow believer’s is critically important, as expressed in James 5:16. Sharing life with others, sharing your struggles and sins with others, will help aid you break addictions and habitual sins. This biblical truth has been copied by the world successfully, and many lives have benefited from it. Consider the effectiveness of, anger management, substance abuse, addictions and other types support groups. They share in each other’s burdens and struggles, and are transparent with their difficulties and sins. Scripturally this method was designed for the Church to fulfill the law of Christ, which is love (James 5:16; Galatians 6:1-2). This idea is further supported throughout the New Testament, including the end result, which is this type of love bringing about perfection -And above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness (Colossians 3:14).
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