The Practices of Jesus:

Confession

The Practice of Confession

Teachings

If you want spiritual, emotional and relational breakthrough, get into the rhythm of confession.  When we confess our sins and resentments, Jesus releases love and power into us every time.  And afterwards we find ourselves free in ways we didn’t realise we were bound.

Of all the practices, confession to another person is the most strange to evangelicals. It’s so foreign to our experience that some people think it’s wrong! But James 5:16 says “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.“  And 1 John 1:9 says “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” Confession first to God, and then to another person is both biblical and critical for our growth and for our experience of God’s love.

 

Before you begin the practice with your family and support group, listen to this sermon to understand more about the importance of service and how it is essential to shaping you to become more like Jesus.

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Practice

Here is how to practise Confession in a safe and simple way:


1.) Open your heart and mind to God and invite him to reveal any sin in you.

David says 

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

    test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Point out anything in me that offends you,

    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Psalm 139:23-24

We know we are safe to invite God to point out our sins because, if we have faith in Christ, God’s intention is always to give us grace and purify us – never to condemn us.  The Apostle Paul says “There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) and Hebrews 4:16 says “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” 

You can use these questions to search your mind with God:
  1. Have you been a testimony to the greatness of Jesus Christ through your thoughts, words and actions?
  2. Have you lacked integrity in your words, or financial dealings?
  3. Have you been honouring, understanding and generous in your important relationships?
  4. Have you continued to remain angry toward another?
  5. Have you harmed or meant harm to another person by your words, either behind their backs, or face to face?
  6. Have you been exposed to sexually alluring material, or allowed your mind to entertain inappropriate sexual thoughts?
  7. Have you given in to addictive behaviour or allowed your mind to be controlled by obsessive thoughts?
2. Write down specific sinful attitudes, behaviours, and resentments that come to mind. 
General confessions like “I’m a sinner” or “I have been angry” are often avoiding true confession. An example of a specific confession would be “In my anger I shouted at my wife” or “I was angry and so I gave the silent treatment to my friend who hurt me.”  Write down specifics.  We want to confess sinful thoughts and attitudes and also resentments.  Resentments are when someone hurt us and we haven’t forgiven them.  We know we are resenting someone when we find ourselves thinking about them angrily or critically.  The only way to get past resentments us to forgive the people who hurt us.  So write down people you find yourself resenting, and what specifically you  resent them for.

3. Identify and set up a meeting with your accountability partner
Think of who you want to confess to. We can think of this person as our accountability partner. Confession is a vulnerable process and so you want your accountability partner to be a person whom you trust and feel safe with.  The best is if they are willing to confess to you also.  That will help you both feel safe.  But they don’t have confess to you for them to be a safe person.  
Once you have some options for a potential partner, go ahead and ask your first pick to be your accountability partner.  If they say no, that’s ok.  You can ask the next person on your list. Make sure your accountability partner is a person of the same sex as you.  That will keep you from any temptation.  We don’t recommend using your spouse as your accountability partner.  Though we should confess sins to our spouse it might cause problems in the marriage if our spouse is our accountability partner.  

4. Confess your sins to your accountability partner.
Be as ruthlessly honest as you can about every specific sin.  If you are the one who is listening to someone else confess, just listen.  Don’t speak.  Don’t excuse their sins, or give advice or counsel.  That may harm.  Just listen and when your partner is done confessing say “Thank you for being open with me and sharing.  All your sins have been paid for and forgiven in Christ.”  

5. Share how you are going to act differently. 
Confession and repentance go together.  If we just confess our sins but don’t make changes so we don’t sin again we are not being honest before God.  You don’t necessarily need to have a plan to repent from every sin committed.  But you most likely know the sins that you keep repeating. These are the ones you need to repent of.   This is part of the reason why we should confess regularly.  Regular confession exposes sin strongholds in our lives where we need help to change.  As you keep confessing and repenting you will discover strongholds where you will need to ask for more support to change.  These supports might involve pastoral counselling, Celebrate Recovery, or written plans to remove temptations from your environment.