Journey to The Cross: Surely Confessing to God Is Enough
Warning - today’s lesson is only for those courageous Christians who want to walk fully in grace. It is not for faint hearted.
Read Nehemiah 1:5-7
Nehemiah 1:5-7 NIV
O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father's house, have committed against you.
• Ask Him to let His ear be attentive and His eyes open to your prayers.
• Let yourself surrender to the humility of being a servant of God.
• Ask God for the courage to confess to one of your Christian brothers or sisters.
• Tell God your joys, fears, and needs. Praise Him in everything.
• Pray for knowledge of God’s will for you today and the power to carry that out.
• Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.
Morning Bible StudyThe Greek word for confess is homologeo. The meaning that applies to this devotion is “to confess by way of admitting oneself guilty of what one is accused of, the result of inward conviction." It also means “to agree with God.” In short, God accuses via our convicted spirit and we decide to agree with what He already knows.
(from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright (c)1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)
Read 1 John 1:8-10.
1 John 1:8-10 NIV
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
• What happens if we say we have not sinned?
Read James 5:15-16
James 5:15-16 NIV
If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
• What two things are we supposed to do with other Christians?
• What is God’s promise to us if we confess to God and each other?
Some churches have a formal way for confession and others depend on the sweet intimate fellowship of Christian brothers and sisters. Perhaps the method isn’t as important as the fact that we find a way to do it. To miss the experience of confession to “each other” is to miss the humbling bond of trust and love that develops when people share their souls.
We see many examples of public confessions in the Bible. Paul often confessed his sins to others. At one point, he admitted that he did things he did not wish to do. Read 2 Corinthians 11:20-21 for an example of his confession on behalf of himself and the people he was writing to.
2 Cor 11:20-21 NIV
In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or pushes himself forward or slaps you in the face. To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!
Read David’s sweet prayer of confession in Psalms 32:5.
Psalms 32:5 NIV
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.
Yes, David is confessing to God but he is also confessing to us since we are reading this confession. Who among us doesn’t appreciate David’s honesty with us?
No one enjoys the humility of confession until the rewards afterward are reaped. Confessing to God is usually easier than confessing to humans. After all, God loves us unconditionally but we aren’t so sure about everyone else. Besides, God already knew about our sin so what have we got to loose? The reward is that through complete obedience of confession to God and each other, we get to experience and enjoy the grace that was already ours.
Christians often struggle with guilt long after they have confessed to God. By confessing to humans, we become a humble sojourner with the family of God. Unwillingness to confess to humans demonstrates a lack of humility. If you are thinking about skipping confession to humans, remember that God tends to get us humble one way or another. Most prefer a willing act of obedience to the baseball bat of humiliation.
Read 1 John 1:9.
1 John 1:9 The Message
On the other hand, if we admit our sins — make a clean breast of them — he won't let us down; he'll be true to himself.
So – let’s “admit our sins” and “make a clean breast of them.” God will be true to Himself!
ApplicationKaren had a terrible secret. She was 29 and still tortured by it. As she lay in bed at night, the ghosts from past screamed so loudly that she couldn’t fall asleep. She begged God for forgiveness but could find no peace. Her church taught grace but she could not release her guilt.
Karen’s story of guilt goes back many years. She was a PK (a preacher’s kid). She was active in church and enjoying being a freshman in high school. She was excited because her father and allowed her to go to a high school football game. It was her first one. She went with her two best friends.
Like many teenagers, Karen enjoyed pranks. During the football game, Karen and her friends left the stands and went behind the bleachers. As Karen stood there, she realized that they were just a few feet from the smaller scoreboard. No one was standing near it. Karen dared her friends to climb the scoreboard, wave at the crowds, and climb down before anyone caught them. Her girlfriends accepted the dare and climbed the pole. As they reached the lights, Karen watched with horror as the lights flickered, flamed, and died. Her friends fell to the ground, dead from electrocution. Karen ran back to the stands in shock.
The entire school grieved the tragic loss of these precious fun loving girls. Racked by grief and guilt, everyone thought Karen’s hysteria normal for losing two close friends. No one questioned her about the deaths. In desperation, Karen confessed to her father. “It was my fault,” she sobbed. “They didn’t want to do it but I kept teasing them. I called them a chicken.”
The father listened quietly. When she finished, he said, “You can’t bring them back. Do not tell a soul. The scandal would hurt everyone. Ask God for forgiveness and drop it.”
Karen begged God for forgiveness, night after night, but could find no peace. She began overeating to mask the pain and gained weight rapidly. She became a recluse, focusing only on her studies. “I didn’t feel worthy of having a friend,” she told me. When she went to college, she began experimenting with drugs. She’d lost all respect for herself and had stopped taking care of her personal hygiene. “At age 29, I was addicted to food and drugs, overweight, alone, and hopeless.”
Someone told Karen about Overeaters Anonymous. “I attended meetings but they didn’t help. I couldn’t understand why others could recover and I could not. One of the steps of Overeaters Anonymous is to humbly admit to God, ourselves, and another person the exact nature of our wrongs.”
Out of desperation, she sat down and talked with a Christian woman who was also a recovering member of Overeaters Anonymous. The entire sordid story poured out of her. Her friend held her as she cried. This was the first time she had talked about the incident since the night she told her father.
“As I confessed, I could feel myself getting lighter. We talked about the grace of God. I left the meeting, knowing God loved me and had forgiven me. I realized I had forgiven myself for a childish prank that had destroyed over half of my life.”
Eventually, Karen even talked to the parents of the girls and neither set of parents blamed her. Karen had to go through a process of forgiving her father for his poor and possibly selfish advice to keep silent. Karen lost weight, stopped using drugs, and began taking care of herself. She continued to be active in Overeaters Anonymous and grew active in the church of her childhood.
Secrets kill the soul. Karen’s confession to God and her father was not enough because it perpetuated her secret. By opening up to someone who loved her unconditionally, Karen was able to experience the grace that was already hers. She said, “That woman was God with skin on.”
Here comes the hard part. Take your list from yesterday:
• Pick a loving and discrete trustworthy Christian. If your church has a formal way to do this, work within your church’s system.
• Immediately, call and ask if you can share something with them. Keep it short and simple. A phone call may be all that is necessary.
• After talking to the individual, get down on your knees and ask God for the willingness to allow Him to remove all of these sins.
• Offer them to Him in humility.
• Stand up and walk in grace.
Keep the list. We are not finished with it yet. If you thought today was hard, wait until tomorrow when we find out if you owe anyone an apology or amends. I warned you that Easter was a time for repentance and confession.