Recent events in the news have brought focus on the subject of confession. While there are certain political implications at this time, it is a matter that should be of con- stant concern for Christians. This is because our salvation is contingent upon effective confession whenever we become guilty of sin. First John 1:8-9 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all un- righteousness.” James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” True confession involves four actions:
First, true confession must be personal. It is easy enough to make general statements like, “We all sin,” or “We sin every day,” or “He sinned,” or “They sinned.” It is another matter altogether to say, “I have sinned.” But, this is what we must do (2 Samuel 12:13).
Second, true confession must name the sin. It won’t work to minimize our sin by calling it something that is considered less offensive or serious. For example, “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings” is an inadequate confession for one who is guilty of slander, gossip, envy, strife, etc. (Acts 8:22-24). Be honest and specific.
Third, true confession must actually admit sin. We have all heard people say, “If I have done anything wrong, please forgive me.” This is really not a confession at all. If you do not know for sure if you have sinned or not, find out first. Then, make a proper confes- sion (Luke 15:21).
Fourth, true confession must address the one sinned against. All sins are against God (Isaiah 59:1-2) and any confession must certainly be addressed to Him. But, many of our sins are also against others and we must make our confession to them (Matthew 5:23-24). Too often folks try to “take the easy way out” by making their confession to people who were not even involved in the situation. Go to the one(s) you sinned against and make the matter right.
True confession is hard! But it is necessary if we hope to retain a correct relationship and fellowship with God.