|If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9|
Some observations about confessing our sins to our Heavenly Father.
Confession does not regain God's favor.
As His children, we never lost it in the first place. God always loves us. We are always favored by God. Paul teaches that nothing can separate us from His love. "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39. As a child, many times I feared the loss of my parents love when I did something wrong. Even discipline was then sometimes viewed as an expression of anger towards me by my parents. Now that I am an adult and a parent I know that discipline is an act of love to correct the wayward child. As a child of my Heavenly Father I can come confidently albeit contritely into His presence knowing that He loves me. I am free from fear of God's anger.
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16
Confession should not be a promise
to never to commit that sin again.
That is not the purpose of confession. Confession is being honest before Him that you have committed a specific sin. Witness Peter's bragging that he would never deny his Lord.(1) Overcoming recurring sins is a process of growth - to make a promise that you may very well not be able to keep introduces a denial of your struggle in your prayer life with Him. Dealing with recurring sins requires an honesty with ourselves and our Heavenly Father that we need help in our struggle to overcome our sin. Recurring sin often requires the prayers and support of others. A common malady of today is that of Internet pornography. If a man is addicted to anything this may very well be where discipleship and accountability is needed. Let's be honest as Paul was - Read Romans 7:14-25.
God does not get tired of our Confessions,
especially the ones regarding sins that we repeat.
 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"  Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Mat18:21, 22, NIV
When the disciples asked Jesus how many times they should forgive sins that were repeated against them Jesus' answer was forever. This certainly reveals God's attitude toward us when we sin. Please remember the important phrase "...he is faithful and just to forgive us..." in 1 John 1:9. Faithful means we can always count on Him to forgive us - "just" means that it is within the boundaries of His character to always forgive us when we come to him in confession. Jonah complained to God after Ninivah was spared judgment because of a revival that God was "...a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity."(2) It is His basic nature to forgive, based, of course on the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
Confession of our personal sins does not
necessarily require a deep emotional response.
The use of the Greek homologeo which is translated "confess" in our passage means to agree with - literally to say the same word. When the Holy Spirit convicts us of our personal sin (s) we are not to deny that we have sinned but are to agree with the Holy Spirit that we have committed that specific sin. It is natural for a man to have a deep emotional response when he commits sins that are especially repugnant to him or that have affected others greatly or that he has been denying such as David sin with Bathsheba. His confession in Psalm 51 is the result of the severity of his sin, his own repugnance to it as witnessed in 2 Samuel 12:5. And rightly so - Paul speaks of godly sorrow in 2 Cor 7:10, 11. However, this is in reference to sins that have caused great offence in the church and when convicted should cause this sorrow. However, if a believer is keeping "short accounts" it may just be that there will be no deep emotional response. That in no way takes away from the genuineness of the confession.
Confession Should Direct our Focus
Toward Jesus Christ.
(Read Hebrews 12:1-3 - Occupation with Christ!)
We do have occasions where recurring sins are a constant occupation of our thinking. The writer of Hebrews is urging us to not only think about our recurring sins that weigh us down but to look at Jesus, in prayer, and in the occupation of our thinking. If we bring our recurring sins to Him and worship Him knowing that He knows our weaknesses laying aside those sins becomes more an exercise of growing up and accountability to our Lord. It's when we hide from Him in shame as Adam and Eve did in the garden that we set ourselves up for defeat.
Confession of our sins should direct our focus toward Jesus. If it does not, we stand in jeopardy of becoming neurotic about our repeating sins - a sure formula for constant defeat.
Confession should not be reserved
for the end of the day.
Pray without ceasing. 1 Thess 5:17.
This does not teach that we should constantly close our eyes or act in some sort of sanctimonious way that looks like we are praying. No. But since confession is a part of our communion with our Heavenly Father - Paul is teaching here that whenever the need arises we should take out the time to "check in with the Lord" regarding any matter including the moment we have offended a friend or spouse. This habit opens up all kinds of possibilities including asking for wisdom on-the-fly regarding any matter including matters at the work place. This constant looking for opportunities for communion with the Father greatly enhances our dealing with recurring sins, by the way.
Confession can be used
while discipling another.
Please read Neh.. 1:3-11. We have to be careful where we go with this but let me take this approach. Many times when a person is dealing with a particularly difficult temptation he will seek the help of another brother. Paul pointed out this ministry in Galatians 6:1-5.
 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.  Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else,  for each one should carry his own load. NIV.
Nehemiah felt a burden for the sins of Israel after hearing of the deplorable conditions at home. When he goes to the Lord in prayer, however, notice the approach he takes. He enters into Judah's sins as though he, himself, had participated in them. Knowing his own sinfulness, he entered into intercessory prayer for the Jews at Jerusalem with a heart that had been open before the Lord. This ministry can be powerful in the area of accountability between a person dealing with a persistent sin and another who had become a friend who is sharing his spiritual life in ministry. We must enter into this kind of ministry knowing that we, too, have weaknesses and may need the same kind of compassion in the future.
Nehemiah is teaching us a valuable lesson about being transparent and honest before our Heavenly Father and our own conscience. Another important point to recall is that Nehemiah's prayer was not made before his brothers but between himself and the Lord. I think we can make a connection between Nehemiah's prayer and verse one of our passage in Galatians 6. This is the proper attitude / prayer of one who is about to assist a brother who is in need.
|A word about the content of this devotional: I am basing some of the content for this devotional on an article, Confession Misconceptions, written by Manfred Koehler, Discipleship Journal, Issue 119 Sep/Oct 2000, Page 91.|
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1. Matt. 26:35.
2. Jonah 4:2b.