A few months ago I started covering the 11 spiritual disciplines. So far we have covered 6 of the 11.
Today I would like to explore one of the lesser-known spiritual disciplines, confession.
What is Biblical Confession?
There are several definitions for the word, ‘confession’. However, we will only focus on two:
- A formal statement admitting that one is guilty of a crime.
- A statement setting out essential religious doctrine.
As believers, the spiritual discipline of confession includes both of these definitions.
One of the first steps to salvation is confession according to Romans 10:9-10.
“…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (KJV) ”
To receive salvation you have to make a statement about who Jesus is, which is an essential doctrine of Christianity.
However, this is not the same as the spiritual discipline of confession.
What is the Spiritual Discipline of Confession?
The New Testament Greek word for confession is exomologeo, which means to publicly acknowledge or confess your sins.
The spiritual discipline of confession is the frequent and habitual practice of acknowledging and confessing your sins.
Why is it Important to Confess Your Sins?
1.Sin separates you from God and hinders your prayers.
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.Isa 59:2,NIV
2.Unconfessed sin will take away your peace.
When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.Psm 32:3-4,NIV
3.When we confess our sins we receive forgiveness.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.Psm 32:5,NIV
4.Confession purifies us from unrighteousness.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:9,NIV
How Do You Confess Your Sins?
If you’ve ever seen a mob movie someone eventually goes to a Catholic church to confess their sins to the priest on duty.
Well, the good news is that you don’t have to go to a confessional booth to confess your sins.
Who Do You Confess Your Sins To?
One thing that has always bothered me about the Catholic confessional method is that people were going to the priest to have their sins absolved.
When technically, the only one that can absolve you of your sins is God.
It is nice to have a person to confide in, but at the end of the day when we sin we are sinning against God first then any people that may have been involved.
You should always confess your sins directly to God.
James 5:16 tells us,” to confess our sins one to another…”(NIV)
As believers, we should have trusted brothers and sisters that we should be able to share our personal struggles with.
People who will come alongside us to encourage and lift us up when we stumble and fall.
I believe that when you confess to other saints it provides you with a source of accountability. Especially, if you’re struggling with sexual immorality, fornication, alcohol, etc.
Having other people that know what you’re going through and help hold you accountable in a godly and loving way can make all of the difference between struggling with sin and conquering it.
Outside of the Catholic church, I am not aware of any Pastors or church leaders that have a specific space for confession.
However, if you’re struggling with a particular sin issue, your church leader or Pastor should be able to provide you with the resources and support you need to be victorious.
I caution you to use wisdom when confessing to other people. Pray and ask God to show you to whom you should confess.
Many people have been hurt because they confessed to a “mature” saint and instead of praying for them they gossiped and preyed on that person.
How & When Do I Confess?
The Bible does not give a specific prayer to say when we confess our sins. However, it does give us a few examples of what we should say.
Leviticus 5:5 says,”…when anyone becomes aware that they are guilty in any of these matters, they must confess in what way they have sinned.” (NIV)
In context, this passage is referring to finding out that something is a sin and confessing once you’ve discovered it’s a sin.
In Matt 3:6 we find John the Baptist baptizing people. As part of the baptism process, the people specifically confessed their sins before they were baptized.
When we confess our sins we should be specific about what sin we have committed.
That’s why it’s important to confess and repent as soon as you’ve sinned.
If you need a confessional prayer you can use the one below.
Lord, your word says that if I confess my sins you are faithful and just to forgive me of my sins and purify me from all unrighteousness. Father, I confess that I have (insert sin) and I repent. Holy Spirit help me to resist the enemy so that I will not give in to temptation and sin.
I ask that you would continue to create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.
In Jesus’ name. Amen
As you may have noticed earlier I mentioned the terms confession and repentance together. In essence, you can have confession without repentance.
However, without it, you will live a shallow and unfruitful life as a Christian.
In my next blog post, we will cover the spiritual discipline of repentance and how it works with the discipline of confession.
As always,keep Jesus in the center of everything you do.
Your Sister in Christ,