Confession

We all sin. We all have done or do things that we need to get off our chest and confess to people who we have wronged or who is willing to listen. There is no coincidence that psychological research finds confession very therapeutic. But do we have to? And if so, how and when?

Who Do We Actually Sin Against?

When we sin, either in private or public, alone or with others; we are actually sinning against God himself first and foremost. It does not matter if the world finds our acts sinful or not. It does not matter if the person we sin with finds it sinful or not. Sin does not depend on the thoughts and feelings of the world. Sin is dependent on what God finds offensive in His sight.

(Psalm 51:4) 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.

Confession To God

Because we sin against God first and foremost, he is the one we need to go to, to confess. Holy Scripture is explicit here (Psalm 41:4; 130:4; Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9). We need to get on our hands and feet, on our face, before our Holy and Righteous God and confess what we have done against him. We can rest a sure that when we genuinely confess our sin before God, that he is perfect in his faithfulness to forgive us. He CAN and WILL forgive us because he is perfectly just, and his perfect justice has been satisfied by Jesus’ payment on the cross for the sin you are confessing.

We do not need someone else to mediate our approach to God. All those who believe in Jesus Christ are now considered priests and we can all come to the throne of God with boldness because of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5-9; Revelation 1:6, 5:10; Hebrews 4:16; 1 Timothy 2:5).

When we genuinely confess our sins to God he is the only one who blots out and removes our sins and does not remember them (Isaiah 43:25; Psalm 103:12). We can rest a sure that there is no more guilt for our sin. We do not need to feel guilty anymore. Any remaining guilt is false guilt. This false guilt comes from our own hearts, from others to continually make us feel guilty, and even from Satan (Psalm 51:12). That continual false guilt needs to be rebuked because of the promises of God.

When quietly spending time with God; read His word. Psalm 41, 51, 103, 130; 1 John 1. Think about each statement God makes. Tell him what you have done that makes you feel shameful, guilty, and what you know you have done that goes against his holiness.

What Then?

Once we confess our sin to God we need to take every necessary step to remove ourselves from the sin. The Holy Spirit explicitly tells us to “flee” from that which leads us to sin. If its a person, we need to flee from that person. If its a thing, we need to flee from that thing. What ever it is, we need to flee from it (1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22, 3:1-5; 1 Corinthians 6:18). We need to remove the person, thing, or what ever from our lives. Jesus explicitly tells us to “cut it off” and says that the consequences of cutting it off are better than not cutting it off and continually living in sin (Matthew 5:29–30). We need to inform the person that is leading us into sin that you confessed it to God and need to distance yourself from them in a kind loving manner. Then actually cutting ties needs to happen. Block social media, deleting contact information, and avoid places that the person frequently visits. All these steps are not to punish the person, but to prevent yourself from falling back into sin. This needs to be explained as well. If it is a thing that continually leads to sin, it needs to be gotten rid of. If it is a computer, its use needs to be done in the open or not used. If it is a phone, it needs to be replaced with something that does not allow for the same ability. If it is a car, it needs to be sold and replaced with something that does not have the same effect. In the end, Jesus said, it is better to enter heaven missing an arm than having both arms and not entering heaven.

Take immediate action. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good (Romans 12:9). With that mindset, take calculated steps to cut off that which leads you to sin. If a ‘loop hole’ in your mind is realized, hate it, and take steps to close any sort of conscious loop hole that will lead you back to the same sin your are actively fighting. Fasting also helps us see what has taken our hearts and minds captive.

Do We Need To Confess to One Another?

We are told to walk in light to have true fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7) and James even tells us to confess our sins to one another and pray for each other (James 5:1). If someone sees you sin, they are called to rebuke you; as instructed by Jesus (Luke 17:3-4) and when you confess, they are called to forgive you (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13). Not confessing and keeping it secret will lead to its discovery anyway. Your sin will come to light either way (Numbers 32:23; Luke 8:17).

“The extent of the apology for a sin should match the extent of the impact of the sin. In other words, we should seek forgiveness from whoever was directly involved in order to ensure healing. For example, if a man looks with lust at a woman, he should immediately confess the sin to the Lord. It would not be needed or appropriate to confess that sin to the woman. That sin is between the man and the Lord. However, if a man breaks a promise, or does something that directly impacts the woman, he must confess to her and seek her forgiveness. If a sin involves a large number of people, such as a church, a man or woman must then extend the confession to the members of the church. So the confession and apology should match the impact. Those impacted by the sin should hear the confession.” (http://ift.tt/2xKb3aj)

When addressing all those who are impacted by your sin you must remember to be kind, thoughtful, and loving of the timing and location of your confession. You need to express your guilt, remorse, and be genuinely apologetic. You need to discuss that you have confessed to God and know you have been forgive already but that you seek the forgiveness of those who it impacted as well. Also explaining the steps and actions taken to disassociate and disconnect from the sin and ask for help and accountability in the future.

Understand that depending on the deepness of the betrayal and sin, some of those whom the sin impacted may take longer to forgive. But those who are deeply hurt and unable to forgive at that time need to be encouraged to seek God as well.

What If I Forget Or Do Not Get The Chance to Confess?

This fear is based on a faulty assumption that a failure of confession may lead to not being saved. We should confess and ask for forgiveness when ever we are made aware of sin but Jesus paid for all our sin, past, present, and future. The sins we are not aware of or forget to confess, have already been paid (Colossians 1:14; Acts 10:43). We do not and can not lose our salvation once we have placed genuine faith in the person and works of Jesus Christ. Because one of his works, is the absolute eternal forgiveness of all sins for all those who believe.

What Happens When We Confess?

Sometimes in our stubbornness we avoid confessing because of fear and shame. But all those who believe in Christ and are children of God will be disciplined and brought to confession at some point (Hebrews 12:7–11) by our Father in heaven. God longs for restored fellowship even more than we do (Isaiah 65:2; 66:13; Matthew 23:37; Joel 2:12–13). He pursues us, disciplines us, and loves us even in our sin (Romans 5:8). When we confess, this frees us from the true guilt. It empowers us free ourselves from that which causes us to sin. It shows our genuine desire for holiness and fellowship with God the Father and love for those who we have sinned against. This freedom enables us to grow in faith.

What Happens If We Refuse to Confess?

We then must face the consequences of sin and the growing effects of it. Broken fellowship persists, and lack of growth continues. But those who genuinely know God do not continue in the sin and do not continue to refuse to confess it (1 John 2:3–6; 3:7–10). Ultimately genuine believers desire holiness and love for God (Matthew 22:37–38). To love God is the desire to pleases him (John 14:15). When we refuse to confess our sins, we are unable to love and please him and the sin stifles our pursuit of holiness. Unwillingness to confess will ultimately harden our hearts and lead us into a greater distance from God and fellowship with other genuine believers.

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