Concerning Sin & Confession

Jesus-Comforting-Large-650x280From Pastor Clark Whitten at PureGraceOnline.com:

Christians are not required to confess their sins to God in order to be forgiven, we already are forgiven when we put our faith in Christ for our salvation. There is no Biblical basis for believers to confess sins to God for forgiveness. To each other for healing, yes; but not to God for forgiveness. (Page 20 Pure Grace).

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Notice I said Christians. Our sins were not only forgiven by God but removed from us. We were cleansed of our sins–all of them! The only reference in the New Testament that refers to a Christian confessing sins is James 5:16 and that verse tells us to confess our sins to one another. 1 John 1:9 refers to the unbeliever confessing sins to be saved. When a Christian confesses sins to God it is not for forgiveness but for healing! It is for us not for Him.

While there is no requirement for Christians to confess sins to God, that does not mean it is forbidden!  In any and all relationships the “agreement” about sin or offense is necessary at times for healing. We must remember, however, that we are already forgiven and cleansed of all sin and therefore the confession of sin to God is only for us to be healed and helped. Another aspect of our healing is the freedom to confess our sins to one another according to James 5:16. All of this should and can take place in an atmosphere of love, acceptance, forgiveness, with the goal of becoming healthy and maintaining healthy and life giving relationships.

Confessing sins to God is a matter of “want to” not “have to.” 

After confessing Jesus as Lord and Savior and receiving Him as the atonement for my sin, I can from that point forward live in eternal peace knowing that I am forgiven of sins I had committed, just committed or have yet to commit. Eternal life doesn’t begin or end. Once it is received, it is forever or otherwise we wouldn’t call it “eternal.”

Concerning confession, I think it is clear from the above quote that confession is still a part of a healthy Christian life. The problem is that confession has been reduced to a ritual of re-crucifying Christ for sins that He was already crucified for in order for the penitent to feel forgiven for sins that have already been forgiven. That would be a self-righteous ritual because it denies the righteousness of Christ that is already present. Confession is something more life-giving, in-depth, and relational than that.

When seeking to understand and thus avoid sinful behavior, I first rest in my relationship with Him as a New Creation and have a conversation with Him. I thank God for His goodness. I thank Him for His finished work on the Cross. I thank Him for the glory of the Resurrection, the Power of which abides in me. I recognize how my sinful behavior is not who I am as a New Creation. I ask Him for wisdom and understanding concerning the matter. I ask for the gifts of the Spirit to manifest in a way that helps me to steward my life … that my focus would be on Him alone, not sin management. It’s in these transparent, not fear-filled, prayerful conversations that He has shown me depths of His love that have captured my heart and devotion. He has been very specific, non-shaming, and always loving.

While confession can be humbling, it is life-giving, relational, and without fear or shame. I don’t have to do anything else other than to believe in Christ’s sacrifice on my behalf to be “forgiven” but I do actually want to confess to God and my friends because I want further healing, love, and wisdom that only comes from transparent and healthy relationships.

Randy Thomas is the Executive Vice President of Exodus International. You can also follow his personal blog or online at Facebook and Twitter.

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