It’s easy to talk about the importance of confessing our faults but to actually do it takes a lot of courage let alone humility. When it actually comes down to the moment of making our confession, we are tempted to back out of it. It’s like this humorous illustration I found:
Several years ago the Peanuts comic strip had Lucy and Charlie Brown practicing football. Lucy would hold the ball for Charlie’s placekicking and then Charlie would kick the ball. But every time Lucy had ever held the ball for Charlie, he would approach the ball and kick with all his might. At the precise moment of the point of no return, Lucy would pick up the ball and Charlie would kick and his momentum unchecked by the ball, which was not there to kick, would cause him to fall flat on his back.
This strip opened with Lucy holding the ball, but Charlie Brown would not kick the ball. Lucy begged him to kick the ball. But Charlie Brown said, “Every time I try to kick the ball you remove it and I fall on my back.”
They went back and forth for the longest time and finally Lucy broke down in tears and admitted, “Charlie Brown I have been so terrible to you over the years, picking up the football like I have. I have played so many cruel tricks on you, but I’ve seen the error of my ways! I’ve seen the hurt look in your eyes when I’ve deceived you. I’ve been wrong, so wrong. Won’t you give a poor penitent girl another chance?”
Charlie Brown was moved by her display of grief and responded to her, “Of course, I’ll give you another chance.” He stepped back as she held the ball, and he ran. At the last moment, Lucy picked up the ball and Charlie Brown fell flat on his back.
Lucy’s last words were, “Recognizing your faults and actually changing your ways are two different things, Charlie Brown!” (contributed by Jeeva Sam, as cited in Sermon Central)
Lucy just couldn’t help herself. She confessed her past misdeeds. But she did not change her mischievous ways.
Lucy could not be trusted. And Charlie would probably think twice whenever she might admit something or make a promise. Sadly, Lucy missed the blessing of confessing when she deceived Charlie Brown.
Lest we should make the same mistake and miss the blessing of confessing, let’s look at the benefits of this important requirement for Christians. We understand that confession is an integral part being a kingdom seeker according to the scriptures. In Matthew 6:33, Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things shall be added to you,” New American Standard Bible, NASB). In the process of seeking God’s kingdom we also seek God’s righteousness. Kingdom seekers want to pursue what is right and just. Why? Because the anxieties of life can weigh us down. “Therefore, do not be anxious for tomorrow,” Jesus said, “for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own,” (v. 34).
Confessing our anxieties will enable us to be better seekers of God’s kingdom and his righteousness (compare First Peter 5:6-7). That’s why Jesus said, “Stop being anxious for your life,” (v. 25), “do not be anxious” about basic necessities like food and clothing (v. 31), and “do not be anxious for tomorrow,” (v. 34). Confessing our worries will lift the burden we carry and put us in a position to overcome such difficulties as conflict, health problems, fear, and deception.
Confessing our faults or sins, such as worrying too much, is part of being a follower of Christ. In the King James Version, James 5:16 says, “Confess your faults one to another and pray for one another, that ye may be healed.” The New American Standard Bible reads, “Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another that you may be healed.” Some say that confession of our “sins” is to be to God whereas confession of our “faults” is to be to another person when appropriate. Either way, confession brings healing along with fervent, effectual prayer. It mends our broken relationship with God as well as with our fellow human beings. It also provides for a better community in which we can grow and prosper (James 4:1-10).
In the same vein, confessing sins will help to fulfill our need for forgiveness and cleansing. It’s when we deny ourselves the blessing of confessing that we block this need. Saying that one does not need to confess one’s sins is denial and denial leads to deception and deception leads to a refusal to accept the truth. For example, First John 1:8-10 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us.”
Christians who are seriously seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness do not take confessing their sins lightly. We’re not really making a confession just to give an impression. Nor are we truly making a confession if it’s done in a half-hearted manner.
For instance, a man returned to his car in a parking lot and found a note under his windshield wiper. The note read as follows, “I just smashed into your car. The people who witnessed the collision are watching me. They probably think that I am writing down my name and address. I am not. They are wrong.” There was nothing more written on the note. (selected) An insincere confession is, in reality, no confession at all.
The greatest blessing of confessing starts with sincerely confessing Jesus in our lives. Let’s look at three essential confessions of a believer in Christ:
(1) Confessing Jesus as Lord is required for salvation: “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved,” (Romans 10:9). Note that this verse includes believing that God raised Jesus from the dead. The three ingredients of receiving Jesus as the living Lord and Savior—namely, faith, repentance, and baptism—is based on confessing with our mouth and believing in our heart: By faith we accept God’s gift of grace through Christ, (Eph. 2:8). We repent by recognizing the sin we’re in (Psa. 139:23, 24), regretting the sin we’re in (Psalm 51:17), and renouncing the sin we’re in (Isaiah 55:7). Then, we enter into Christ by being baptized by immersion in water which symbolizes that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and was raised by God to immortality (Romans 6:3-7).
Once one has accepted Jesus through faith, repentance, and baptism, one can experience God’s forgiveness as way to deal with one’s sins. As I pointed out earlier, when we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins according to First John 1:9. Thus, we are able to constructively deal with our sins by confessing them to God through his Son who acts as our Advocate with our heavenly father, (1 John 2:1-2).
(2) Another blessing is confessing Jesus as the Son of God for it enables God to abide in us. According to First John 4:15, “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” Christianity is the only religion that teaches Jesus is God’s son and that he is Christ, “the anointed one,” or Messiah of God. There may be other religions that assert the existence of a higher being or beings but none of them confess that Jesus not only is Lord but God’s Son, as well. Therefore, since those from other religions do no confessing Jesus as the Son of God, they leave out the one, true Source for God to abide in them and they in God. But our confession that Jesus is the Son of God opens up the wonderful opportunity to abide in God and God to abide in us through love, confidence, and spiritual maturity (1 John 4:16-21).
(3) Confessing Jesus before others brings a heavenly blessing. Jesus declared, “And I say to you, everyone who confesses me before men, the Son of man shall confess him also before the angels of God,” (Luke 12:8). We have nothing to be ashamed of when we confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior and our hope in him before others who do not know him. In fact, it is an honor knowing that Jesus is also confessing us before the Father’s heavenly host. What a sharp contrast for those who deny Jesus before others: “But he who denies me before men shall be denied before the angels of God,” (Luke 12:9).
Indeed, confessing is a blessing in so many wonderful ways as we have seen from God’s Word. It is not only a responsibility, it is a privilege. We cannot afford to dismiss it or deny it. As the late Dr. Alva Huffer wrote, “Daily examination of one’s thoughts, words, and actions, and the confession of sin to God are necessary for all Christians. As a merchant, at the end of the day, checks the condition of his business, believers need daily to examine their lives in the light of God’s standards for mankind,” (see Psalm 139:23-24). (Systematic Theology)
Here are the Cathedrals in a live performance singing, “Search Me, O God“:
Good News to YOU!