Confession, also called reconciliation or penance, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, The need for confession is frequently stressed in the Hebrew Bible. The mission of the Jewish prophets was to awaken in the people a sense of sinfulness and an acknowledgment of their guilt, both personal and collective. Before the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem (70 CE), the sin offerings on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) were prefaced by a collective expression of sinfulness (Leviticus 16:21), and, since the destruction of the Temple, the Day of Atonement has continued in Judaism as a day of prayer, fasting, and confession.
In the New Testament the public ministry of Jesus was prepared for by John the Baptist, who baptized the people; the baptism was accompanied by a public confession of sins (Matthew 3:6). The necessity of confession is discussed in many places in the New Testament (James 5:16; 1 John 1:9), although there is no direct evidence that confession had to be specific or detailed or that it had to be made to a priest.
Confession of sin is vital in the Christian life. It plays a powerful role in our coming to terms with ourselves and our sin, and in our attempts to reconcile ourselves with those we have wronged: ourselves, our neighbors and our God. But confession, it turns out, is far more than repentantly making our sin known to others.
When many people hear ‘confessing your sin’, they think it reserved for monks in a monastery or of paying penance to God by entering a church confessional.
But Scripture teaches us it is an important practice for the life of every Christian. The answers to these questions about confession in the Bible may surprise you:
Psalm 32 offers us several powerful reasons to confess our sins and shows us the consequences of unconfessed sin. David felt weak and was miserable when he did not confess. Verses 3-4 says, “3 When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.
4 For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.”
In addition to avoiding the negative effects of unconfessed sin, biblical confession is a way to experience more of God’s grace. Biblical confession should be a joy, in some ways, due to the rich benefits God gives us through it.
1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
This does not mean that God will forgive a sin only if it has been specifically confessed. When a Christian repents and believes the Gospel of Jesus Christ, all of their sins, past, present, and future are immediately forgiven!
Confessing is part of the sanctification process and aids Christians in dealing with sin and healing from it. James 5:16 says, “ Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
Christians confess their sins to God to practice humility before him and to fess up to the bad things they have done. It takes a humble person to admit their mistakes! Humility is a vital part of confession and aids the restoration of Christians who have quenched the Spirit of God. Peter in 1 Peter 5:6 says, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.”
SO, confession can be a list of sins that we bring before God and verbally tell him that we have sinned. But we cannot just stop here with a verbal listing of our sins. Just saying them out loud or silently in prayer to God doesn’t do anything with them except bring them to mind.
If we don’t deal with our sins we just end up feeling guilty. Likewise, when we confess to other Christian believers we cannot just confess and leave the sins as a list.
Confession is not just an acknowledgement of sin, it is also an agreement with what God has done with those sins. In confession, we can be reminded both by God and our Christian friends that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and his intervening on our behalf takes away our sins and makes them no more.
We boldly declare with our confession of sins that:
1- God has forgiven us,
2- we don’t have to stay bound by that sin,
3- Christ has set us free from sin, and
4- we are declared righteous before Him.
Times of confession, then, turns into something we should seek and be grateful to have.
That’s how the Scripture defines confession. The Apostle John writes that we should acknowledge that we sin, we should confess our sins, and know that God has forgiven us in Christ (1 John 1:8-9).
This in turn helps us break the power of sin over us and reminds us that Jesus Christ is constantly going in-between us and God forgiving us from all our sins. “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2).
† Confession with Maggie Khozam †