We have to realize who we really are in comparison to God in the relationship that we have with Him. The Greek word for confess 1 John 1:9 means to declare openly, acknowledging and agreeing with God that what you are doing or what you did was wrong God says if we confess our sins and turn from them, He’ll forgive us and bring us back into right relationship with Him. We confess in order to be right with God
You know that gross feeling you get when you know you’re in sin or you haven’t confessed a hidden sin from your past? It’s a slimy feeling in your gut that no matter how hard you try, you can’t get rid of. It’s always there, just under the surface of your skin, keeping you from feeling pure, from having a clear conscience.
It’s a severe mercy of God called conviction of sin. While it may be uncomfortable at times, conviction of sin is a kindness of the Holy Spirit—leading us back to God in repentance and faith, reminding us that God is not finished with us yet. He has plans for our future, and they are good. There is only one way to get rid of that feeling, of that grossness: confession.
What are we told to do in order to be forgiven?
We have to acknowledge that we are guilty. Many books on prayer emphasize the act of confession. It’s like David’s prayer of forgiveness after the affair with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah
Psalm 51:1-10 (NLT)1 Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins.2 Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin.3 For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night.4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.5 For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.6 But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there.7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.8 Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice.9 Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt.10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.
When we acknowledge that we are so very small we are in our imperfection, when compared to God who is perfect it establishes the right ground rules of how we relate to God. Confession makes for good psychology in addition to it being good theology.
God already knows who we are. It’s us who have to come to terms with who we really are. We need God’s help in digging out all the hidden things like selfishness, pride, deceit, unforgiveness, etc., and prayer is a way we can get that guilt out.
Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT)23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.24 Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
We have to admit that we are helpless. Human beings don’t ordinarily like to admit that we need help. I have had that problem most of my life. That can become the sin of pride which will short circuit our relationship with God and our ability to talk to Him in prayer.
James 4:6 (NLT)6 But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.”
Humility doesn’t mean that we grovel before God. It means that in the presence of God I see my true place in the universe which is so very small and at the same time acknowledges God’s greatness.
1 Peter 5:6-7 (NKJV)6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
We have to be honest. God wants us to be real. We all have two sides. One we show to the world the one everybody sees on the outside. Then there is the one we never let anybody see. Well that’s the one that God sees.
1 Samuel 16:7 (NKJV)7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
Psalm 139:4 (NKJV)4 For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. 7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
We need to not be afraid to expose ourselves in God’s presence. When we come to God in prayer we need to ask ourselves if we bare the deepest, most hidden parts of ourselves. Only when we do will we discover ourselves as we are. God knows the selfish motives behind everything that we do. Prayer invites us to bring our whole life into God’s presence for cleansing and restoration. It’s not easy to expose ourselves but when we do we give God the opportunity to clean and repair us. We don’t need to be afraid that God will reject us. Just think about it. Humans represent the only species on earth with whom God can hold a conversation. Only we can articulate praise or lament. Only we can form words in response to the miracle, and also the tragedy of life We dare not devalue our unique position.
Do we trust God with our exposed self or do we hide our real selves afraid that God will be displeased with it when in fact the hiding may be what displeases God most. What we think is protecting ourselves God sees as a lack of trust. When we finally acknowledge our need we will find that God is not a tyrant but a lover. Paul prayed that we begin to understand how much he loves us.
Ephesians 3:14-19 (NKJV)14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height--19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
The grossness, of sin, , only goes away when we confess and choose to walk in the light, no matter how scary, no matter the consequences. Nothing, no hidden sin or fear of exposure or awful outcome, is worth compromising the freedom you have when your conscience is clear and your heart is pure before the Lord.
We have to come clean and be real not like the hypocrites.
The one word for this clear and present danger that every follower of Christ faces is – hypocrisy. And hypocrisy is, in essence, about making the approval and praise of man our top priority.
Jesus’s warning about hypocrisy is this: What you seek is what you get. Whether it is in praying, fasting, or giving, if your motive is about getting the attention and praise of men, well, you will get that. Nothing more. Certainly not the attention and reward of God. And you shouldn’t be surprised; for you were not seeking attention or the reward of God. What you seek is what you get.
Matthew 6:1 (NLT2)1 “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.
Confession Isn’t Sufficient
Ezekiel 18:21 (NLT2)21 But if wicked people turn away from all their sins and begin to obey my decrees and do what is just and right, they will surely live and not die.
Confession is necessary, but it is not sufficient. Sufficiency is achieved only when confession is connected with repentance. You see, confession is making our sins known—to God, frienes, to trusted Christian brothers and sisters.
James 5:16 (NLT2)16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
Repentance, though . . . repentance involves a turning: turning away from those sins; turning our backs on our old selves. Repentance is saying, we don’t want to be those people anymore. Repentance is turning toward God. It’s a willingness to become new people, loyal followers.
2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (NLT2)16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
Confession is critical, but it’s only the first step. Repentance is the ultimate step.
Ironically, confession requires great courage, but repentance just requires a soft, willing heart. In the parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus taught that it’s not sin itself that imperils us, but rather a hard, stubborn heart, an unwillingness to turn, an unwillingness to repent. The younger son lived a life with ostensibly more sin. The older brother simply harboured resentment and jealousy. The younger repented of his sins, though; the older did not. The father welcomed the younger and celebrated his return:
Luke 15:32 (NLT2)32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”
The father pleaded with the older to also join in celebration, to soften his heart. He would not.
Luke 15:28-31 (NLT2)28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him,29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends.30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours.
Without repentance, we continue in our sin. Without repentance, we continue on our own path . . . toward death.
Luke 13:1-5 (NLT2)1 About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple.2 “Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?” Jesus asked. “Is that why they suffered?3 Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God.4 And what about the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem?5 No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too.”
Okay, so what do we do?
That stuff that you need/needed to confess, do that. Repent of it now. Turn your back on that person who committed those sins.
Then soften. Be willing to listen to God. Astonishingly, he’ll always let you start over.
Acts 3:19 (NLT2)19 Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.