Confession and the Christian Life
“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:5 to 10).
1 Confession is Critical as you Walk in the Light of Christ 1 John 1:5 to 10
Exposed in the Light Verses 5 to 7
Verse 5 He is fully holy
In Him is no darkness
Verse 6 If you walk with Him while you are walking in darkness, you lie
If you say, “I am in a relationship with this girl…I am walking with her.” Yet I see you, and while she is walking, you are on the other side of the street a few yards back—you are stalking, not walking. And if you say, “This is my team—you wear the jersey and you know the stats, the plays…but you don’t run plays, you don’t make those stats. You would be arrested if you walked on the field with them. You are not walking with them–you are stalking them.
You might know all the information about Jesus–His stats. But you are not walking with Christ.
Verse 7 Walking with Christ
(1) Fellowship with one another
(2) The blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin
This is standard assurance of salvation–faith in Christ and love for the saints (Ephesians 1:15, Colossians 1:4, John 13:35)
One thing that happens as you walk in fellowship—your sin is exposed. Like a dark restaurant when the lights go on at the end of the shift. Whoa! Is that what it looked like in here! The places you don’t see all the time, like on top of your fridge. But He is light–He sees all and in Him is no darkness, nothing evil, and nothing hidden. And walking with Him exposes you. As you walk in the light, the light exposes you. You know it is true—you can’t deny that.
There are two categories of denying sin
Transgression–active sin Verse 8
Transgression is current action in rebellion to what you know is evil–rebelling against the law. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (verse 8).
Iniquity–inherited sin Verse 10
Iniquity is the condition of being broken in sin–for all humanity, not just some. This broken condition came about by the fall. “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (verse 10).
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Walking in the light exposes us so our sin is most clear. It’s not seeing the evil out there, but the sin in you. The closer you are to Christ, the clearer your sin will become. You will be continually humbled and thankful for the grace and mercy of God in Christ.
Confident in Christ the righteous Verse 9
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
You do not need to hide your battle with sin, because Christ has won the war. When walking in the light exposes your sin, as it will, you are free from its power–free to confess it. And because the payment of His precious blood and His faithfulness and righteousness, He will continue to cleanse you from it.
Freedom to confess your sin because He is faithful and just, or righteous—He the righteous does what He says. There is no darkness in Him–no deceit in what He has said. He will do as He said–save and sanctify His people. So we confess, and He is faithful and righteous to forgive us and cleanse.
“’If we confess our sins,’ says John, ‘he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins’ (1 John 1:9). To whom are we to confess? To Him, surely–that is, we are to fall down before him with a grieved and humbled heart, and sincerely accusing and condemning ourselves, seek forgiveness of his goodness and mercy.
10. He who has adopted this confession from the heart and as in the presence of God, will doubtless have a tongue ready to confess whenever there is occasion among men to publish the mercy of God. He will not be satisfied to whisper the secret of his heart for once into the ear of one individual, but will often, and openly, and in the hearing of the whole world, unpretentiously make mention both of his own humiliation, and of the greatness and glory of the Lord” Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion
He will celebrate God’s mercy and grace! Psalm 32 (ESV), “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah 5I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah 6Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. 7You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah 8I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. 9Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. 10Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord. 11Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”
2 Confession Brings Celebration as you Walk in God’s Mercy through Christ Psalm 32
Concealing sin consumes us (verses 3 to 4). “My strength was dried up as by the heat of summer” (verse 4). We get this in Menifee. When we try to hide our sin rather than confess, it crushes us–consumes us. But when we have confessed, we proclaim what He has taught us of His mercy and grace.
Confessing sin commends His mercy (verses 1 to 2, 5 and 11). “Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven” (verse 1). “The Lord counts no iniquity . . . in whose spirit there is found no deceit” (verse 2). “I acknowledged my sin” (verse 5).
“He will not be satisfied to whisper the secret of his heart for once into the ear of one individual, but will often, and openly, and in the hearing of the whole world, unpretentiously make mention both of his own humiliation, and of the greatness and glory of the Lord” (Calvin). You can’t declare His mercy and grace if you lie and hide your sin, or pretend you have no sin and call Him a liar.
“9 Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. 10Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord. 11Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”
But do you rejoice—do you declare? A theologian–Dietrich Bonhoeffer (a great name, but no relation) helps give insight why this mentality fails us in our battle against sin. “Why is it easier to confess our sin to a dreadfully holy God than to another justified sinner? The answer is simple. We are actually confessing our sins to ourselves, not God, and then granting ourselves absolution. Unfortunately, this sort of self-forgiveness can never lead to a breach with sin. We need others in the body of Christ to declare God’s promises in the gospel for His people. We need others to help us wage war against the deceitfulness of sin.”
Could it be that you are living in sin, and only confessing your sin to yourself, unwilling to really humble yourself? Trying to hide your sin in your own knowledge and absolve yourself–rather than confess and repent of sin, fleeing it? You don’t want others to know–not just because of the shame, but because you don’t want to leave it.
James 5:13 to 16 (ESV), “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
3 Confession Brings Cleansing as you Walk in the Community of Christ’s Church James 5:13 to 18
Prayer is the diet of Christian strength–prayer and praise. John MacArthur helpfully gives clarity to this passage, that the word “sick” in verses 14 to 15 should be translated weak or weary, rather than sick. This is not about physical illness, but spiritual weakness–suffering of spirit. Go to spiritual leaders (elders) who care for your soul (Hebrews 13:7 and 17) who will pray and encourage, comfort you.
As James goes to prayer, he encourages those suffering to go to the elders for prayer and oil—literally to rub oil, or massage. I don’t get it, I think it’s creepy to have someone else touch my feet—but clearly I’m in the wrong.
We will let Chris go into greater detail, but look with me at verse 16. We all confess–it is not just the elders that pray, it is the church. “Confess your sins one to another and pray for one another.” One to another—mutual confession of sin. This is not a sinner confessing to a holy priest–this is the body functioning, caring for one another in the regular confession of sin one to another.
Confession is detox of Christian sin (verse 16)
The practice of confession is simple, not complicated! Praying together, pursuing what we know is His purpose and plan to make us holy and blameless before Him. Not just recognizing the truth of your iniquity–you are broken, imperfect. But confessing your sin, your transgression, your pride, your anger, your harsh language, you immorality to one another and pray–that you may be healed!