Confession isn’t something we like doing. Well, it’s not something we like doing without making excuses for ourselves. But real and honest confession admits our faults without making any excuses.
When someone wrongs you and then apologizes but makes excuses for why they did it, doesn’t it just bug you and devalue their apology? “Hey, I’m sorry for not jumping in and correcting that rumor about you, but I figured people should’ve just known it wasn’t true.” Yeah… right.
When we come before God in prayer to confess our sins we sometimes don’t really know what to say or how to confess them? How specific should we be? Do we really need to confess every single little sin or else we might not be forgiven?
I think it’s important for us to remember that we don’t confess our sin to God for HIS sake, but for ours. When we confess our sin to God, I believe it’s mostly so that we remember how completely we need to rely on God’s grace and mercy and that we don’t deserve anything from Him. If you are a Christian and have placed your life in Christ’s hands, then your sins are all forgiven. They don’t pile back up until you confess them again and then they go away until your next confession… they’re all paid for (even the ones you haven’t actually committed yet) because of what Jesus did on the cross and through rising from the grave.
When we confess our sin to God, we’re reminded of how much we need God to transform us. Take a look at these few verses from the Psalms and what they teach us about prayers of confession:
- David prayed this right after the prophet Nathan “called him out” on the whole “Bathsheeba incident.” David recognizes that even while he sinned greatly against Uriah (aka: he had him killed!) and Bathsheeba, he had also sinned against God! All sin is both horizontal (it affects other people, not just us) but it is also vertical (and is an offense against God, who deserves our worship and obedience).
- We are never too far gone for God to love and forgive. This verse (also a part of David’s prayer of confession after the Bathsheeba incident) even goes so far as to say that the sacrifices that God desires most are hearts that are totally aware of their need for forgiveness! Don’t ever think that you’re too “bad” or sinful for God to forgive… if you’re thinking that, then you’re not too far away from where you need to be in order to confess and receive forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
- God does not want us to pretend that we’re something or someone we’re not. Don’t feel the need to act holier than you actually are, especially when you pray! You don’t need to air your dirty laundry to the world, but don’t keep skeletons in the closet either. Confess your sin to God, not just in broad and general ways, but openly and honestly confessing the ways you need him. And trust that God has truly forgiven your guilt because of Jesus’ victory over death and sin.
- If you start walking East, you could always keep going forever (if you could walk on water). God’s grace and forgiveness has completely separated us from our sins. That doesn’t mean that Christians don’t struggle with sin anymore (obviously, otherwise this whole post would be pretty unnecessary and we’d only need to confess once!). We continue to struggle to resist sin, but we trust that God has removed the guilt of our sin infinitely far away from us.
So ‘fess up. As Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We’re all sinners and in need of God’s grace and mercy. As a Christian, none of us have the right to think that we’re any better than anyone else because God has forgiven us… you didn’t do anything to earn it, all you did was receive the forgiveness!
We need to confess and repent. Confession is when we admit our sin to God; Repentance is when we turn away from our sin and commit ourselves to follow Jesus Christ. “Repent” literally means “To change one’s mind.” I like to think of it as doing an “about-face” – you stop marching towards sin, stop, turn around, and start marching towards Christ. That’s what’s necessary for saving faith… Confession (“I’m a sinner, Jesus is God and died for my sins on the cross and conquered death/sin and promises to give me victory by faith in Him.”) and Repentance (“I don’t want to live for myself anymore. God I trust you and want to live for Christ from today on.”).
When you pray, remember ACTS: ADORATION, CONFESSION, THANKSGIVING, SUPPLICATION. Remember who you’re praying to (Adoration); Remember your need for God (Confession); Thank Him for his grace and mercy and for all He has given you (Thanksgiving); and Share your heart and your needs with him (Supplication).