The Power of Confession

The Power of Confession

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (I John 1:5-10)

 I would like to think that Christians, who have been in the Word of God and have been faithful to participate in the Church, would understand the concept and dynamic of transformation. And while we would all, perhaps, say that we want to be transformed, I wonder how many of us really surrender to the things that God uses to do this in our lives. First of all, we need to understand what TRANSFORMATION really means.

The Bible is clear and best communicates the concept of TRANSFORMATION in Romans 12:2, where it says,

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

This simply means that transformation is when our minds are radically changed from an old way of thinking to a new way of thinking and the new way is able to discern and understand the will of God and do it. Transformation is an enlightenment, an empowerment and an expression! The renewing of our minds is an inward spiritual transformation that will manifest itself in outward actions. Colossians 1:10 gives us the results:

“So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;” (Colossians 1:10)

Evidence of transformation is in the way in which we reflect the likeness and glory of Christ! And this statement raises the question, ‘How well do we reflect the image and likeness of Christ?’ Paul stated to the Corinthians in II Corinthians 3:18,

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

And Romans 8:9 says, “… Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” (Romans 8:9).

In other words, for us to be considered as children of God, we must be led by the Spirit of God. And it is through the power of God’s Spirit that Christ lives within us. The transformed life reflects the attitude of the apostle Paul found in Galatians 2:20:

 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

The source of this transformation is the gospel. Paul says in I Corinthians 1:18,

 “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved (being transformed), it is the power of God.”

Transformed lives begin with the gospel message of Christ, for in it is the power of God. It is the gospel that brings us salvation and thus transforms our lives. Romans 1:16-17 says:

 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” (Romans 1:16-17)

But there are some means of grace that we must surrender to upon the calling of God for the fullness of transformation to take place. For example, let us understand …

The Work of God in Conversion 

Spiritual conversion is so profound that it involves many changes in a person. It involves a change at the very core of our being. For example, a change of mind - which is an intellectual change; a change of view - a new recognition of God, self, sin, and Christ; a change of affections which communicates an emotional change, a change of feeling, a sorrow for sin committed against a holy and just God. It involves a change of will which is a volitional change, an intentional turning away from sin and a turning to God through Christ to seek forgiveness. The entire person—mind, affections, and will—is radically, completely, and fully changed in conversion.

There is a coordination between regeneration and conversion. Theologically speaking, regeneration and conversion are two sides of the same coin. There is a regeneration in the soul. Regeneration is God’s sovereign activity by the Holy Spirit in the soul of one who is spiritually dead in sin. Regeneration is the implantation of new life in the soul. Regeneration gives the gifts of repentance and faith.

On the other side of the coin, conversion is the response of the one who is regenerated. Esteemed British pastor D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said: “Conversion is the first exercise of the new nature in ceasing from old forms of life and starting a new life. It is the first action of the regenerate soul in moving from something to something.” Regeneration precedes and produces conversion. There is a cause-and-effect relationship between these two. Regeneration is the cause, and conversion is the effect. Put another way, regeneration is the root and conversion is the fruit. All of this causes us to see then …

The Work of God in Consecration 

Consecration revealed in the New Testament is for every believer in Christ. It’s not something only for knowledgeable Christians or spiritually mature ones. In fact, we cannot subjectively know the life of Christ in us or reach spiritual maturity without consecrating ourselves to the Lord. This is because consecration is the basis for every spiritual experience.

So what is consecration? Consecration is our giving ourselves to the Lord to become “a living sacrifice,” as Paul says in Romans 12:1:

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

In the Old Testament, a sacrifice was something set apart for God by being put on the altar. When people offered that thing to God, it no longer belonged to the one offering it. It belonged to God, for His use and His satisfaction.

Today, when we consecrate ourselves to the Lord, we become a living sacrifice. We give up our own claims on ourselves and put ourselves completely in His hands. Previously, our life was for our use and our satisfaction; now it is for His.

When we present ourselves to the Lord as a living sacrifice, we’re simply saying, “Lord Jesus, I am for You. I’m no longer for myself, the world, or anything else. I am for Your use and Your satisfaction.” But CONSECRATION is an act of PURIFICATION! And purification requires a lifestyle of Confession and Repentance. So we consider …

The Work of God in Confession 

Confession is a response to the gift of grace given by the Holy Spirit! Yet, confession is so overlooked in our lives or at the very least, it is misunderstood and therefore not practiced properly. There is an old adage that says, ‘confession is good for the soul.’ This is, of course, very true. It liberates the soul if practiced sincerely and faithfully. But we need to understand this practice in order to live in freedom! We need to define what confession means and we also need to understand what absolution means.

Confession means to agree, acknowledge or to admit. It is to come into alignment with what God defines as sin and admit to it. Otherwise we will remain bound to the power of the particular sin. When we confess our sins, the faithful work of Christ on the cross is applied. Just as 1John 1:9 says,

“If we CONFESS our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.”

This verse was not written to unbelievers but to believers. Therefore, there is an ongoing responsibility to CONFESS our sins - not for the purpose of keeping our salvation but for the purpose of revealing our salvation. When we confess, Christ absolves us of our sin!

Absolution means that when we confess our sins, the gospel assures that our sins are forgiven. No priest on earth and no other human being can absolve you of your sins. Only Christ, our High Priest, can do that. Absolution is a formal release from guilt, obligation or punishment.And while absolution is the work of the gospel and the Spirit of Christ, there is significance in confessing before a witness that exercises spiritual authority in someone’s life. It provides for the proper accountability!

In order for this to make sense, we must take a deeper look into the concept of CONFESSION! There are different kinds of confession that also involves accountability. There is …

  • General Confession 

‘General Confession’ is when we collectively as a church confess our sinfulness in the communion liturgy. In this liturgy, like this morning, there is an exhortation to confess sin; a declaration that that the gospel absolves us of sin and a reaffirmation of our faith in Christ and His work in our lives.

  • Individual Confession 

Silent confession takes place daily when we acknowledge sin in our hearts during prayer, and when we are consistently open before God. We acknowledge ourselves guilty of all manner of sins, even of those which we do not perceive. We want to be open before God and acknowledge our sinfulness and not deny our sins. Proverbs 28:13 says,

 “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)

  • Private Confession 

Private confession is when the Spirit of God reveals sin in your life and you need a confessional witness for accountability purposes. This confession is not like that which takes place in the Catholic Church. Rather it is a means by which you are able to be more properly discipled.

Men need to have spiritual fathers in their lives to make themselves accountable to for the purpose of avoiding sin. Women need spiritual mothers for the same reason. But these father and mothers cannot absolve you of sin, but they can be. Witness of your confession and a help to encourage and strengthen you in your weakness. In James it is written:

“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

“My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and i will cover a multitude of sins”.(James 5:13-16; 19-20)

James shows us that spiritual leaders (Elders) took on significant roles in the spiritual work of the Cross in people’s lives. The work of healing and the forgiveness of sins resulted in the church when proper accountability and confessions were made.

I am convinced that many never get freedom over certain sins in their lives because they have been convinced that they can simply confess in private and that’s all that is required. This can certainly work but with a witness and and encourager, the strength of certain sins loses its grip because light is allowed in to the hidden places of the heart.

Martin Luther, the Great 15th Century Reformer writes: “Peoples whose consciences the devil holds captive in his snares and has fascinated and worn out so thoroughly that they do not know how to release and extricate themselves but only feel and see that they are bound to perish. For there is no greater misery in this life than the pains and anguish of a heart that lacks advice and consolation. Therefore such people should be given an open door to confession …”
We need to remember that in order for a conscience to operate properly it must be enlightened and guided by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.

  • Confession of Love 

Confession of love is when the Spirit of God reveals to us that we have sinned against another and we go to that person and confess seeking forgiveness. This is done is faith believing that in doing so, we activate forgiveness in heaven and are absolved.

 Confession of love is confessing and asking forgiveness when we offend a brother or sister, regardless how we feel about it. God’s Word requires us to care for offenses against a brother or sister. This preserves and strengthens mutual love and makes our journey with our brothers and sisters easier. When the gospel is preached, the love between brother and sister is restored and there is peace in their hearts.

Sometimes we do not know that we have offended another brother and that is why God has given us the Church Law of Christ. Jesus instructs the offended person to approach the one that has offended.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” (Matt 18:15-17)

 It is sometimes difficult to forgive. But remember Jesus’ words … “If ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”(Mark 11:26)

  • Public Confession 

Sin need only be confessed as far and wide as they have offended. For example, if a church member has fallen into repetitive, lifestyle sin, they have offended the body and broken their covenant with the Lord and His church. This kind of sin needs public confession before the congregation! A gospel preaching church can then be a gospel practicing church by releasing forgiveness while heaven releases absolution.

As we move forward to becoming a more gospel saturated community of believers, it is imperative that we practice these things in compliance with God’s Word. Only then will we see real TRANSFORMATION take place in people’s lives.

So, in conclusion, the Bible says, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” (Psalm 32:1).

Our salvation is established by Christ in the gospel and the belief that our sins are forgiven. All our sins, past, present and future are forgiven but this forgiveness is appropriated by faith expressed through CONFESSION and REPENTANCE.

We can thank our Lord Jesus Christ that He has taken our sins away. We can praise God that he has given us His only Son and that we can also be His child.

 “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, 12 that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!” (Psalm 30:11-12)

By the gospel, we receive the comforting assurance that these sins are forgiven. This is the mystery of the Gospel.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. “(Psalm 103:12)

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