How does confession help us?
1. Confession clears the way for forgiveness.
2 Samuel 12:1-14
1 The LORD sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, "There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor.
2 The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle,
3 but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.
4 "Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him."
5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, "As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die!
6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity."
7 Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man! This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.
8 I gave your master's house to you, and your master's wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.
9 Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.
10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.'
11 "This is what the LORD says: 'Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight.
12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.'"
13 Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." Nathan replied, "The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.
14 But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die."
VERSE: Then David confessed to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord." Nathan replied, "Yes, but the Lord has forgiven you, and you won't die for this sin." (2 Samuel 12:13)
During this incident, David wrote Psalm 51, giving valuable insight into his character and offering hope for us as well.
No matter how miserable guilt makes you feel or how terribly you have sinned, you can pour out your heart to God and seek his forgiveness as David did.
There is forgiveness for us when we sin.
David also wrote Psalm 32 to express the joy he felt after he was forgiven.
Confession clears the way for worship.
1 On the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and having dust on their heads.
2 Those of Israelite descent had separated themselves from all foreigners. They stood in their places and confessed their sins and the wickedness of their fathers.
3 They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the LORD their God.
4 Standing on the stairs were the Levites--Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani and Kenani--who called with loud voices to the LORD their God.
5 And the Levites--Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah and Pethahiah--said: "Stand up and praise the LORD your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting. " "Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise.
6 You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.
7 "You are the LORD God, who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and named him Abraham.
8 You found his heart faithful to you, and you made a covenant with him to give to his descendants the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites and Girgashites. You have kept your promise because you are righteous.
9 "You saw the suffering of our forefathers in Egypt; you heard their cry at the Red Sea.
10 You sent miraculous signs and wonders against Pharaoh, against all his officials and all the people of his land, for you knew how arrogantly the Egyptians treated them. You made a name for yourself, which remains to this day.
11 You divided the sea before them, so that they passed through it on dry ground, but you hurled their pursuers into the depths, like a stone into mighty waters.
12 By day you led them with a pillar of cloud, and by night with a pillar of fire to give them light on the way they were to take.
13 "You came down on Mount Sinai; you spoke to them from heaven. You gave them regulations and laws that are just and right, and decrees and commands that are good.
14 You made known to them your holy Sabbath and gave them commands, decrees and laws through your servant Moses.
15 In their hunger you gave them bread from heaven and in their thirst you brought them water from the rock; you told them to go in and take possession of the land you had sworn with uplifted hand to give them.
16 "But they, our forefathers, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and did not obey your commands.
17 They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them,
18 even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf and said, 'This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt,' or when they committed awful blasphemies.
19 "Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the desert. By day the pillar of cloud did not cease to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take.
20 You gave your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst.
21 For forty years you sustained them in the desert; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet become swollen.
22 "You gave them kingdoms and nations, allotting to them even the remotest frontiers. They took over the country of Sihon king of Heshbon and the country of Og king of Bashan.
23 You made their sons as numerous as the stars in the sky, and you brought them into the land that you told their fathers to enter and possess.
24 Their sons went in and took possession of the land. You subdued before them the Canaanites, who lived in the land; you handed the Canaanites over to them, along with their kings and the peoples of the land, to deal with them as they pleased.
25 They captured fortified cities and fertile land; they took possession of houses filled with all kinds of good things, wells already dug, vineyards, olive groves and fruit trees in abundance. They ate to the full and were well-nourished; they reveled in your great goodness.
26 "But they were disobedient and rebelled against you; they put your law behind their backs. They killed your prophets, who had admonished them in order to turn them back to you; they committed awful blasphemies.
27 So you handed them over to their enemies, who oppressed them. But when they were oppressed they cried out to you. From heaven you heard them, and in your great compassion you gave them deliverers, who rescued them from the hand of their enemies.
28 "But as soon as they were at rest, they again did what was evil in your sight. Then you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies so that they ruled over them. And when they cried out to you again, you heard from heaven, and in your compassion you delivered them time after time.
29 "You warned them to return to your law, but they became arrogant and disobeyed your commands. They sinned against your ordinances, by which a man will live if he obeys them. Stubbornly they turned their backs on you, became stiff-necked and refused to listen.
30 For many years you were patient with them. By your Spirit you admonished them through your prophets. Yet they paid no attention, so you handed them over to the neighboring peoples.
31 But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.
32 "Now therefore, O our God, the great, mighty and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love, do not let all this hardship seem trifling in your eyes--the hardship that has come upon us, upon our kings and leaders, upon our priests and prophets, upon our fathers and all your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria until today.
33 In all that has happened to us, you have been just; you have acted faithfully, while we did wrong.
34 Our kings, our leaders, our priests and our fathers did not follow your law; they did not pay attention to your commands or the warnings you gave them.
35 Even while they were in their kingdom, enjoying your great goodness to them in the spacious and fertile land you gave them, they did not serve you or turn from their evil ways.
36 "But see, we are slaves today, slaves in the land you gave our forefathers so they could eat its fruit and the other good things it produces.
37 Because of our sins, its abundant harvest goes to the kings you have placed over us. They rule over our bodies and our cattle as they please. We are in great distress.
38 "In view of all this, we are making a binding agreement, putting it in writing, and our leaders, our Levites and our priests are affixing their seals to it."
VERSE: The Book of the Law of the Lord their God was read aloud to them for about three hours. Then for three more hours they took turns confessing their sins and worshiping the Lord their God. (Neh. 9:3)
The Hebrews practiced open confession, admitting their sins to one another.
Reading and studying God's Word should precede confession (see Neh. 8:18) because God can show us where we are sinning.
Honest confession should precede worship because we cannot have a right relationship with God if we hold on to sin.
2. Confession clears the way for real fellowship.
13 Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.
14 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.
15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.
16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
17 Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.
18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
19 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back,
20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
VERSE: 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 wonderful results.
Christ has made it possible for us to go directly to God for forgiveness.
But confessing our sins to one another still has an important place in the life of the church.
(1) If we have sinned against an individual, we must ask him or her to forgive us.
(2) If our sin has affected the church, we must confess it publicly.
(3) If we need loving support as we struggle with a sin, we should confess it to those who are able to provide that support.
(4) If, after confessing a private sin to God, we still don't feel his forgiveness, we may wish to confess that sin to a fellow believer and hear him or her assure us of God's pardon.
In Christ's kingdom, every believer is a priest to other believers (1 Peter 2:9).
Confession clears the way for freedom.
1 John 1:1-10
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.
2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.
3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
4 We write this to make our joy complete.
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by 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, purifies us from all sin.
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
VERSE: If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.
Confession is supposed to free us to enjoy fellowship with Christ.
It should ease our conscience and lighten our cares. But some Christians do not understand how it works.
They feel so guilty that they confess the same sins over and over; then they wonder if they might have forgotten something.
Other Christians believe that God forgives them when they confess, but if they died with unconfessed sins, they would be forever lost.
These Christians do not understand that God wants to forgive us.
He allowed his beloved Son to die just so he could pardon us.
When we come to Christ, he forgives all the sins we have committed or will ever commit.
We don't need to confess the sins of the past all over again, and we don't need to fear that God will reject us if we don't keep our slate perfectly clean.
Of course we should continue to confess our sins, but not because failure to do so will make us lose our salvation. Our relationship with Christ is secure.
Instead, we should confess our sins so that we can enjoy maximum fellowship and joy with him.
True confession also involves a commitment not to continue in sin.
We wouldn't be genuinely confessing our sins to God if we planned to commit them again and just wanted temporary forgiveness.
We should also pray for strength to defeat temptation the next time we face it.