I remember being a little kid at a VBS or Sunday School event and hearing teachers try to re-pitch the ABCs to us. “To invite Jesus in your heart and be a Christian you have to A - admit that you are a sinner, B - believe that Jesus is God’s son, & C - confess that Jesus is Lord.” For many, there is an unintentional emphasis on one word over another, but I have always been hung up on the ‘C,’ confess. As I got older the word seemed to become a little more complex for me. “What does it actually mean to confess?”
Confession is used in a couple of different ways in scripture. The two ways to use the word is to admit something and to agree with something. Let’s see what the Bible says about both.
Confession is Admission
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. - 1 John 1:8-9
It is basic that if you believe in Jesus, you believe in him as Savior. That we have “all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23) And to accept him as Savior there must be some sort of confession, or admission of sin recognizing the reason he is your Savior. And in Romans 10:9, a passage usually considered part of the Romans Road to salvation, that confession or admission of sin is a beginning step to becoming a Christian. To pass from death to life, you start with an awakening by the Spirit of God that you are a sinner desperately in need of grace, you believe deep within your heart that Jesus is God’s Son, and you confess outwardly that Jesus is Lord over everything.
Although confession is a one time thing at the beginning of belief, does it stop there? I think King David from the Psalms can answer that. You know the story of David and Bathsheeba, right? David was already a worshipper of Yahweh. He was already a “believer” as we would call him. Yet he still sinned and sinned badly. In Psalm 51, he acknowledges this when he says, “For I know my sins and my transgression is ever before me.”
You might be thinking, “But that was before Jesus. Now that Jesus came and paid for our sin, we only need to confess once.” Well, yes, but that’s not the end of the story. James 5:16 says,“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” This passage doesn’t talk about a one time prayer or one time confession, but a continual confession. It is a lifestyle that remembers the sinfulness of man but reminds us that sin is defeated by the love of God!
The phrase that keeps coming to mind is this: if we are influenced by a sin nature while we are living, then as long as we are living we should be confessing.
Many passages about confession of sin speak of making a pattern and practice of confession, “that you may be healed.” There is power in being honest about your sinful nature and failings. Because in the many failings of people, there is abundantly more grace from a great God!
Confession is Agreeing
“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven” - Matthew 10:32
“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God” - 1 John 4:15
Confession has been a regular part of worship in the past. Not only as a confession or admission of sin, but also as an agreement with God. For centuries Christians have made confessions and creeds a crucial element of worship. Confessing the Lordship of God and the nature of God in worship has its roots in passages like the one in Matthew 10:32.
Jesus said, “Therefore everyone who confesses me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven.” (Mt 10:32)
Confessing that Jesus is the Son of God goes together with being a Christian and having God abide in you (1 Jn 4:15). When we confess the nature of God, we are agreeing with God about who he is, and that is a powerful thing. To stand in the middle of a culture that does not acknowledge God or tries to invent ways to explain God away and to be able to confidently agree “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,” (Ps 24:1) takes amazing faith and speaks volumes.
In our worship at Restoration Church, we desire to be of the same mind as Peter in Matthew 16:16 when Jesus asked, “who do you say I am?” and Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” Our goal is to have that kind of abandon. To see all that is happening around us and to confidently say, “Jesus, you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God and our faith is only in you!”
forgiveness and pardon
The one thing we want to always remember when we talk about confession, is that there is always forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jn 1:9) John did not say, “he might be faithful and just to forgive us.” No, he said, “he IS faithful and just to forgive.” In the confession of our sin, we find forgiveness for our soul.
Hidden in the Psalms is a marvelous passage, Psalm 32.
“For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.” Psalm 32:3-4
David recounts a time when he was stubborn and reluctant to confess his sin, and it’s as if his bones wasted away and was in pain all day long because of the conviction that comes from God. Then this happens:
“I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.” Psalm 32:5
Forgiveness did not become realized in David’s life until he confessed. Until he confessed, David was hurting. He was feeling convicted in his spirit to the point that he felt physically ill. But when he confessed to the Lord and sought God he said, “You forgave the iniquity of my sin.” Then everything about this Psalm changed and he gives the encouragement to be glad and rejoice because of that forgiveness! (Ps. 32:11)
Christian, remember that forgiveness IS in Jesus and it’s FREE for us. However, a natural response to confession of sin is repentance, the act of turning away from your sin and toward Christ. Confession of sin should drive us away from our sin and toward the graces of a loving Savior. God is loving and kind and he has promised forgiveness for all who believe, confess, and repent of sin. Be assured of that forgiveness today and if there’s any unconfessed sin in your life, it is my prayer that you have the strength and courage to confess so that you might find healing and forgiveness for your soul.
What to expect
So, why am I writing this? What can you expect from your Worship Team in light of this? We want to emphasize a full view of worship as we gather on Sundays. We want to teach confession as a healthy part of our weekly corporate and personal worship.
Starting on Sundays, we are planning to include times of confession together. Now, this does not mean you have to come up front and kneel in prayer. It does not mean that you have to come and confess all your sins to the elders. But what it does mean is that we will provide times for you to quiet your heart before God and confess. Whether it’s sin in your life or whether it’s a prayer of praise, confessing that he is Lord over your life. We also plan to read statements and passages together confessing that we love and adore him. That we acknowledge what he has done for us and what he plans to do with those who do not know him.
Here’s to developing a confessional life, one marked with deep faith and resulting in a strong response to the glorious gospel of Jesus that has rescued us from sin and has made us alive to a living hope.