I saw this crossword clue in my paper today: “a 3-letter word for “stray morally.” Well, that’s easy- “S-I-N.” I think it may be easier for the puzzle maker to bring up sin than it is for most of us. I honestly admit that I have never said to my husband, “Honey, would you like to confess our sins to each other?” Thinking about confession of sin can be uncomfortable and unpleasant, which may be why we put it on the back burner.
So I am out to change your perspective! Hang in there with me while we explore how to receive spiritual refreshment through confession of sin.
Do you critique your sports play, analyze your goals and time management, or scrutinize your financial situation? Are you working on improving a hobby or skill? Why does it seem easier for us to be inspired to work on worldly things, but not our spiritual life?
Since we will never be sinless, how should we approach confession of sin?
Meaning of Confession in the Bible
The word confession comes from the Greek word “homologeo.” – “to say the same thing.” When we confess, we are saying the same thing about our sin as God does. We agree with him that what we did was wrong.
Struggling with Sin
I find it comforting that we’re all in the same sinking boat with sin. I love Paul’s candid honesty about his sin. In Romans 7:15 he confesses “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” He doesn’t give us any specific details. But it’s a great reminder that we all struggle with sin.
The First Sin
Let’s go back to sin’s origin- Genesis 3 and the story of Adam and Eve.
Eve had a desire to taste the fruit that “was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also for gaining wisdom.” (v6)
She knew God had instructed them not to eat the fruit, but… it looked tasty and she’d gain wisdom. She gave in to her desire and sinned.
Aren’t desires a huge part of our choices (good and bad)?
Satan Tempts Eve
Satan tempted her by suggesting:
- She should doubt what God had told her.
- God is keeping this enjoyment away from you. And, God lied to you. You won’t die.
- Bonus! You can be like God if you eat it!
Satan’s been on repeat ever since.
•He plants doubts in our minds.
•He pits God’s will against our own free will.
What is your strongest temptation of these three?
Dealing with Temptation
While Eve listened and interacted with Satan, she could have chosen at least two other options:
•She could have grabbed Adam and walked away or;
•Call for God to come near to her and give her some guidance.
I love this reminder that when the temptation to sin arises; there are options!
We can walk away from our temptation.
We can turn to God and ask him for guidance, direction, and help.
Consequences of Sin
Adam and Eve’s sin instantly caused them embarrassment, fear, and guilt. They sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves and hid from God.
While that sounds silly to us now, don’t we do the same thing when we refuse to confess and turn from sin? We sometimes try to cover up, deny, or ignore those guilty feelings.
Our sin, however, is not news to God. He knows them, sees them, and hears them.
“O God, You know my foolishness; And my sins are not hidden from You.” Psalm 69:5 (NKJV)
Cain and Abel
Let’s jump ahead one chapter to Genesis 4:4-7(NIV): Cain brings an offering to God, but He “did not look with favor,’ upon it. Cain gets “very angry,’ and his face showed it. “Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.’
God’s reaction to Cain’s sin surprised me a bit. There was no thunderbolt of condemnation or an angry, stern reproach. Why do I forget that God is the perfect Father; always ready to lovingly work through our problems with us?
•God calmly acknowledged Cain’s anger and tried to work through it with him. But Cain remains angry and resentful, and we know how this story ends- the first sin of premeditated murder.
•God showed a very tender understanding of Cain’s unhappiness. Anger is a natural human emotion. Cain shows us that sin can follow when we refuse to admit our mistakes.
Instead of working through his anger with God, he resisted God’s love and concern and rebelled with sin.
What is your attitude when someone points out a sin of yours? If the Holy Spirit convicts you?
Forgiveness of Sin
As believers, Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice gave us salvation and forgave our sins for all time. We can’t be “more forgiven.” We are fully united with him and fully forgiven.
Christians confess sin and seek forgiveness to maintain a clear conscience before God. We admit we have turned from his direction and forged ahead with our own path.
Jesus imparted his Holy Spirit within us, which includes His love for living a moral life and His hatred for sin.
Our faith has us working towards exhibiting the loving behavior of Jesus and obeying his teachings. When we do sin, we should feel the same way towards it as God does.
Our sin draws us away from God, just as it did for Adam and Eve. When we don’t see or acknowledge our own sin, it affects our lives and those around us. It can bring sadness and hurt and pain. And when we rationalize our sinful behavior, we don’t even see the need to change, i.e. “I was tired”, “I was stressed out”, etc.
Confessing our sin and asking for His forgiveness brings us closer to Jesus; acknowledging and thanking Him for paying our debt.
We’ve established the following:
•We all struggle with sin
•We have options when we’re tempted
•God understands our sin and desires to work through them with us.
•God promises forgiveness when we confess them.
Bible Verses About Confession of Sin
“Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.” Psalm 32:5 (NIV)
Psalm 32 is a testimony of the gratitude we experience for God’s gift of forgiveness when we confess our sins. There is no more guilt, worry, or shame. Instead, we are blessed with peace, confidence, and happiness.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 (NIV)
We can confess our sins freely and without fear because we know God is faithful, just, and merciful.
“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” Proverbs 28:13 (NIV)
God knows our sin but requires an acknowledgment of it. This also includes a heartfelt desire to part ways with it.
4 Step Process for Confession of Sin
•Realize your own personal sin– Own up! This takes a time of reflection and a humble spirit. No justifying, rationalizing, or generalizing. Listen to the Holy Spirit as He convicts you.
•Ask for forgiveness– anytime and anyplace. It can be as simple as a heartfelt “Forgive me, Lord, for ___. I know it was wrong. Help me hate it as much as you do. Help me to do better.”
When we feel convicted of sin, we can instantly acknowledge it and pray for forgiveness.
•Correct– confession has to be sincere and genuine. Confession is not an “oops, probably shouldn’t have done that” attitude. Be determined to use the help of the Holy Spirit to stop this sin.
•Keep trying– the process of “repenting” from our sin literally means to change direction and turn away. Jesus gave us the Lord’s prayer with the line “forgive us our sins” (with genuine remorse) for a reason. We need it often!
Benefits of Confession of Sin
•Our sin may make us uncomfortable- that’s a good thing! We’re trying to live our lives as ambassadors of Jesus. Being convicted of our sins, confessing them, and asking for forgiveness keeps us aligned with God.
•Confessing sin forces us to humble ourselves and shows gratitude for what Jesus has done. Confession tells God we acknowledge our need for his grace and forgiveness. It tells him we need his help and strength.
•Confession is a healing and mending process. Sin hurts us and those around us.
•Confession keeps us from living in embarrassment, fear, and guilt. It lifts the weight and burden of sin off our backs. It brings “spiritual refreshment” into our lives, like a cool glass of lemonade on a hot summer day:
“Repent then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” Acts 3:19 (NIV)
God pours out his grace on us daily! Confession of sin brings us a humble spirit in tune with His plans for our lives. “Humble yourselves and he will lift you up!” James 4:10 (NIV)
Replace the fear and guilt of sin with his rich mercy and love with the confession of sin.
“Search me O God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139:23-24.
All Scripture is taken from the NIV unless specified otherwise.
Photo Credit: AnnMarie Anderson