TO WHOM DO WE CONFESS?
WE CONFESS TO GOD.
Siin is an offense against God. Although David sinned against Bathsheba and Uriah, he wrote, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight…” (Psalm 51:4). Sin means breaking the law and holy will of God, so we are accountable ultimately to Him.
WE CONFESS TO THOSE WE HAVE WRONGED.
The prodigal said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you” (Luke 15:21). We can forgive people whether they confess wrongs to us or not, but Scripture does tell us to acknowledge our faults to those against whom we sin (Matthew 18:15). And that means saying more than, “I’m sorry.” We name the sin. It is so important to confess that not to do so eventually brings church discipline. It is in this context that Jesus says, “Where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (20). The presence of Christ is strengthened by walking in the light and denied by disunity.
Jesus regards this lifestyle of openness and brokenness with such importance that He places it as a priority for worship: “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23,24). Worship is impaired when relationships are out of order. I remember Graham Cooke saying, “If you want to upgrade your worship, upgrade your relationships.” How true!
WE CONFESS TO ONE ANOTHER.
Walking in the light (I John 1:7) does not mean walking without sin, because it yields forgiveness. It means walking without defensiveness and claiming we don’t have sin (verses 6, 8, and 10). It means exposing the darkness of our hearts in appropriate ways with people to whom we are accountable. Jesus said in the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12), showing that confession and forgiveness have both a vertical and horizontal direction. When Paul’s preaching brought a revival in Ephesus, “many of those who believed came and openly confessed their evil deeds” (Acts 19:18). Luke adds that “in this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power” (20). Revivals often begin when conviction of sin is followed by public confession.Let’s do it, Church!
James wrote, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:15,16). Sin blocks the unity of the Spirit. Sin could have a part to play in the sickness, or it could keep the “two or three” from agreeing. So James urges the confession of sin to one another for effectual prayer. I wonder what would happen if we started our prayer meetings with this exhortation: “Confess your sins to each other.” Vulnerability releases grace. The more willing we are to be weak the more we will experience the presence of Christ in our fellowship and see the power of Christ demonstrated in our ministry! Amen!