© 1999 James A. Fowler

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I. Biblical statements.

    A. General.
         Lev. 5:5 - "he shall confess that in which he has sinned"
         Numb. 5:7 - "he shall confess his sins..., make restitution..."
         Prov. 28:13 - "he who confesses and forsakes his transgressions will find compassion."
         Acts 19:18 - "many kept coming and confessing and disclosing their practices."
         James 5:16 - "confess your sins to one another"
         I John 1:9 - "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins."
    B. Examples.
         Ps. 32:5 - "I acknowledge my sin to Thee...I will confess my transgressions to the Lord."
         Ps. 38:18 - "I confess my iniquity"
         Isa. 6:5 - "Woe is me...I am a man of unclean lips"
         Luke 15:21 - "I have sinned against heaven and in your sight"
         Luke 18:13 - "God, be merciful to me, the sinner!"

II. Defining confession.

    A. Greek word homologeo means "to say the same thing," to agree, concur.
    B. What confession of sin is NOT:
         1. Informing a human priest in the confession booth.
         2. Giving God information. "God, You won't believe what I've done."
         3. Speculating. "IF...I have sinned..." "I have...."
         4. Saying "I'm sorry..." "....just a joke!"
         5. Asking/pleading to God for forgiveness for our sins. Forgiveness already available in
             Christ's death.
         6. Plea-bargaining for a lesser charge. "Yes...but...."
         7. Emotional groveling; mental contortions.
         8. Psychological catharsis. "Feel good when you get it off your chest"
         9. Superficial or flippant incantation. (Sin was reason for Jesus' death).
        10. "Confessionalism" - (Excessive sin-consciousness; wallowing in weakness; focusing on
              'flesh'; navel-gazing introspection; "Worm-theology"; Pride of sinfulness; back-handed
              basis of spirituality; exhibitionism; revel in relating sinfulness in testimony; Who was the
        11. Based on false established attitudes which create false-guilt and false-confession. Some try
              to agree with God that something is wrong, when God never said it is sin. But, if not done
              in faith, it is sin. (Rom. 14:23).
    C. Confession is...
         1. Ceasing to deceive ourselves - I John 1:8
         2. Ceasing to continue the defense mechanisms of denial, avoidance, distortion, cover-up.
         3. Calling sin "sin." Calling a spade a spade!
         4. To recognize, admit, acknowledge, concede and declare our guilt of sin.
         5. Part of repentance. A change of mental attitude leading to changed behavioral action.
         6. Inclusive of asking forgiveness for wronging another person.
         7. Inclusive of restitution - Numb. 5:7; Lk. 19:8

III. Defining sin.

    A. Anything contrary to character of God.
    B. Any activity not done in faith (Rom. 14:23), and thus not derived from God.
    C. May include hidden, secret, unknown sins
         Ps. 19:12,13 - "hidden faults"
         Ps. 90:8 - "our secret sins"
         Eccl. 12:14 - "everything which is hidden"
    D. May include besetting sins; habituated, life-dominating sins (Heb. 12:1,2)

IV. Practical concerns of confession of sin.

    A. To whom do we confess our sin?
         1. To those wronged by our sin. Sphere of confession only as broad as context of sin.
             a. Intrapersonal sin confessed to God alone. (Ps. 32:5; Prov. 28:13; I John 1:9)
             b. Private interpersonal sin confessed to God and the one sinned against. (Matt. 5:23,24;
                 James 5:16).
             c. Public interpersonal sin confessed to God and those affected. (II Cor. 2:6; James 5:16).
    B. How long should we go before confessing sin?
         1. Unconfessed sin in past needs to be dealt with. (Eccl. 3:15; Phil. 3:13)
         2. Is God keeping ledger book of our sins? Those who encourage keeping "short sin
              accounts" seem to imply such.
         3. Confessing sin is like reacting to a stumbling on sidewalk. (Quick down; quick up!)
         4. Confessing sin is like rebounding a missed basketball shot.
    C. What happens if our sins is not confessed?
         1. Does unconfessed sin affect...
             a. Our redemption? (Isa. 59:2; Rom. 8:39)
             b. Our salvation? (Prov. 28:13)
             c. Our sanctification?
             d. Our eternal destiny?
             e. Our physical well-being? (Ps. 32:3)
             f. Our psychological well-being? (Ps. 32:4)
             g. Our prayer-life? (Isa. 59:2; 66:18)
         2. Confession of sin is not a "work" that has any merit before God.
    D. What if a person doesn't feel forgiven after he confesses his sin?
         1. We do not live by feelings, but by faith.
         2. God is faithful - I John 1:9
         3. When you still feel guilty of sin
             a. Examine the motives of your confession.
             b. Remember that Satan is the "accuser of the brethren" (Rev. 12:10).
             c. Have you forgiven others or asked for their forgiveness?
             d. Have you made necessary restitution?
         4. Have you forgiven yourself? "Who will bring a charge against God's elect?" (Rom. 8:33).



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