Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Agreeing with God About Sin

It’s a hot summer day, and several of the neighborhood kids are playing in your backyard. You glance out the window, just in time to see your six-year-old son angrily whack his buddy with the nozzle end of the garden hose.

You race outside to find both boys angrily shouting, but only one bleeding. With a bandage applied to the youngster’s head, you walk the friend home and apologetically explain to his mom what happened. Back at home, although you know your son was at fault, you realize that there’s something he needs to learn from this incident.

It takes a while, but once Billy realizes that you saw everything that happened, he is finally willing to confess: “I got mad and hit Sam with the hose.”

Up until that moment, Billy had not confessed. Only when his words matched what you saw did confession occur. Only after he had confessed was he ready to seek and receive forgiveness.

We sometimes try to pull the same trick on God that Billy tried to pull on his mother—forgetting in the process that God already sees and knows everything! In many churches today, confession (often in the form of creeds) remains a regular part of the service, as it has been for generations. But confession isn’t meant to be a ritual. It’s a vitally important part of our relationship with God because, in confessing, we learn to see and describe life as He does.

Understanding Confession

The Bible tells us what happens when we say the same thing God says about our sins:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 (NASB)

Not used to the idea of regular confession? Or so used to the idea that you’re not really sure about its purpose anymore? An easy way to understand confession is to realize two facts:

  1. God sees everything; and
  2. Scripture tells us to confess, both to God (1 John 1:9) and to fellow believers (James 5:16).

In 1 John 1:9, the Greek word for confess means “to say the same as.” When John says, “If we confess our sins,” he means, “If we say the same thing about our sin that God says about it.” And once we agree with God about the presence of sin, we can agree with Him about the need for its removal and, ultimately, walk in victory over that sin.

As for the role of confession to other people, I wrote in my book Conformed to His Image,

“When we uncover and name our secrets, failures, and weaknesses, they lose their dominion by virtue of being exposed. We are generally more concerned about the disapproval of people whom we can see than we are about the disapproval of God whom we cannot see, and this makes repentance and confession before others difficult.”

Confession to others, of course, should be done with much discretion (not confessing anything or everything to just anyone!), but the idea is that it frees us from the burden of hidden sin. If we fail to confess our sin regularly, we will be increasingly vulnerable to temptation and to sinful thoughts and actions; we may become desensitized to the seriousness of our sin in God’s eyes and even begin rationalizing it.

I encourage you to commit to making confession a regular part of your daily prayer time with God, if it’s not already. Ask His Spirit to search your heart and reveal any areas of unconfessed sin; then acknowledge those to Him. Finally, thank Him for His forgiveness!

Copyright © 2019 Ken Boa, used with permission.

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