Alright, I Confess

Growing up in varied Christian circles, I’ve often wondered the meaning behind many of the doctrines with which we are presented… one… the idea of confession.

I always reasoned in my head, “If God knows everything, then, confession is unnecessary.  He already knows what wrong I have committed and the remorse I feel.”

It makes sense… right?

So many different perspectives on confession that I’ve seen… here’s a few:

  1. The belief that it takes place in a chamber between a parishioner and his priest.
  2. “God already knows” so there’s no need.
  3. You should point out faults in order to bring about repentance and confession.

All of these perspectives have one commonality… they are all misunderstanding of the reason and concept of confession of sins.

View #1 believes there is a required act to receive God’s forgiveness for a transgression.

View #2 would have you ignore the sin.

View #3 does nothing but shows a disbelief in the ability of the Spirit of God to counsel.

Some scholars would argue with me, they’d ask… “Well, what about James 5:16?  It says that confession brings ‘healing’” (which is also interpreted “forgiveness” by some).

James 5:16

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

So, here’s my belief (in case you care)…

At the point of Jesus’ death, my sins were forgiven… the only catch?  I hand over my life to God.  That means ALL has been forgiven… everything I have done, am doing right now, and will do in the future has been forgiven… God is bigger.

So where does that leave verses such as James 5:16?

To gain understanding you have to start in a different place… a garden… the night Jesus was arrested.  Before his arrest, he was praying…

John 17:21

“I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one.”

….the book of James expounds a little further…

James 4:11

Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law

See a common theme between these two verses?  They speak of unity among the followers of the Christ.  Throughout the Bible there is a common theme of God’s people living together in unity… and in peace.

Is it no wonder that each time “sin” is referred to in the New Testament, it refers to an action that causes disunity between people?

The examples are endless of named sins… the commonality?  They all cause division.

What then (in my belief) is the purpose of confession?

…to restore unity.

A favorite portion of scripture amongst adherents to view #3 (You should point out faults in order to bring about repentance and confession) is Matthew 18:15…

Matthew 18:15

“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.”

Ironically, they largely ignore the “against you” part of Matthew 18:15… they choose to make it a blanket statement, allowing the constant tearing down of a person under the auspice of “iron sharpening iron.”

Regardless, I go back to my earlier statement “God is bigger.”  God knows you are going to mess up… he’s already provided forgiveness.

Confession is the avenue to reparation/restoration between two people.

God sees us as a model of Him on earth… referring to us as “His Body.”  What happens when your body is not at peace?  Same concept when those who are on the same team begin fighting with each other.  Now read James 5:16 again…

James 5:16

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

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