I frequently get asked what my opinion is on confession. It seems that a lot of people are concerned that people aren’t taking confession seriously enough these days to which I have to say I agree.
The primary question I get asked revolving around this topic is “do you believe confession is essential for believers”.
It gets asked because there are so many views people have on how important “confession” is.
- Some think that confession is not important in light of what Jesus did on the cross – “why would we need to say sorry for sins already taken care of” they might say.
- Others think that if you do not list all your past your sins in a sinners prayer then you are not really “born-again”.
- Many think it’s important that you should confession your sins as you remember them so you can be “right with God”
- Others still think that without confessing each and every sin you commit you will not be forgiven, they beg God to convict them of their sins so they can make sure they confess each and every one.
And that’s just scratching the surface of the varied views and opinions people have.
I personally think that most of these varied views come from a lack of understanding of what confession actually means.
Let’s face it, if we do not correctly understand what confession means we are bound to end up with some weird views of what role it takes in the life of the believer.
9 times out of 10, in my experience, if I ask a Christian what they think confession means they would say that it is the action of listing our sins and mistakes, working your way through a laundry list of sins. This is done in order to appease God and cause Him to forgive us, that we might have “right relationship” with Him.
However, the truth is that Biblical confession has nothing to do with listing sins.
So what does it mean?
The word in the Greek which we translate as “confess” is the word “homologeo”. This word is commonly translated as “agree with”, “not to deny”, “not to refuse”, “to concede” as well as “confess”.
This word homologeo comes from the root words “homou”, which means “to be together”, and “logos” which means “a spoken word”.
A fleshed out, literal translation would basically be – “to be in agreement over what is being said”.
Now let me clarify who is doing the agreeing here.
We are not trying to get God to agree with what we say in confession. We are not trying to convince Him of our sins! In fact He says He remembers them no more. He says they are completely forgiven in Christ (long before we even did them!).
No. Confession is for us to agree with God. It is a tool given to us for our benefit so that we might renew our minds to the truth and disempower sin in our life.
What should it look like?
When we confess our sins to God we are outwardly declaring what God says about our sins.
Confession is not just listing our sins in order to be forgiven, but rather declaring our forgiveness for those sins in Christ!
When we confess our sins we proudly proclaim that God has forgiven us, the power of sin is not something we have to remain under, Christ has set us free from sin and given us freely His righteousness.
We remind ourselves of these truths (and more) and renew our minds that we would believe them.
That is true biblical confession! And that is what I’m talking about whenever I talk about confession – not the laundry list!
From the place of understanding this Greek word homologeo we can read that word “confession” in the Bible with the right meaning and thus our theology will start to fall into place.
The problem with the laundry list of sins
If we stop and think about it this idea of listing all our sins is a really bad one. I mean, let’s face it, when do we ever feel better because we just list all our sins? I don’t know about you but I just feel worse about myself! Why? Because just listing you sins doesn’t deal with the sin, it simply reminds us of them. It is a lifestyle of focusing on sin rather than focusing on Jesus.
It causes us to feel guilty, to feel condemnation, to feel sinful as a person.
That is not God’s desire for you!
There is no condemnation in Christ. No guilt whatsoever.
In fact, God has promised that He will remember our sins no more. He has literally chosen to forget our sins!
That’s good news.
I mean what do we think we are doing when we go to God and just list our sins to Him? Reminding Him of what He chose to forget?
That doesn’t seem too helpful.
If He has chosen to forget them, perhaps that might be a way we should try and be more “God-like”.
So how should I confess my sins?
As we “confess” our sins we do the following:
- 1. We acknowledge that we have messed up. (this is where most people stop)
- 2. We acknowledge that in Christ we are completely forgiven.
- 3) We thank God that our sins are not a part of who we are anymore and that He has made us the righteousness of Christ.
- 4) We ask God what lies we are believing that are causing the sinful action in our lives.
- 5) We ask what truths we need to embrace that will help us not repeat these sinful actions and walk in who we really are in Him.
- 6) We thank God that He has chosen to forget this sin completely and ask Him to help us to do the same.
What is the fruit of this Biblical model of confession?
Let me tell you – if you confess your sins in this way I guarantee you will start to experience these fruits in your life:
- 1. You will feel better and have the weight of guilt and condemnation lifted from your shoulders.
- 2. You will actually stop repeating the same sins over and over.
- 3. You will feel closer to God and experience His presence and His goodness so much more.
What about you?
What does confession look in your life? What journey has God taken you on in your understanding of confession and how has it helped you in your relationship with Him?