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Saturday, February 22, 2014

What Is Confession?

1 John 1:9 (ESV)
9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

I have struggled with this verse for a long time. I believe God knows what we have done. Why do we need to tell Him? There must be more.

Confession is a realization of our sin. The verb, confess, is a subjunctive. This means that it is a conditional "if- then" type statement. The "if" is our part. Our confession is not universal to all people. Not all people will confess. It is a decision that each person must make on his own.

Conviction precedes confession. Each person who confesses has realized his own sin. Conviction is not comfortable. It compels us to confess. There is no relief of sin by merely acknowledging them. There is no true relief of sin by simply recounting them before God. There must be more.

The word confession comes from two words. Homo in Greek means "the same." Logeo means "I say." It is plural. It is subjunctive meaning that "if" should be added. Since logos also means word, the logical understanding is "If we say the same words." What are the same words?

Confession must say the same words as God about our sin. Those words are more than admission of guilt though admitting guilt has its own value. These words must have a greater meaning to have value. These words must include repentance. This is what makes the confession valuable to God.

Let's say that your spouse has been unfaithful to you. He or she comes to tell you about an affair. What value would it be to you if there wasn't any repentance. In other words, what if your spouse said, "Yeah, I did it and I'm going to keep on doing it." Would you really say, "O, I'm so glad I know now," or "I see how hard it was for him (or her) to tell me and that means a lot?"

No. The only confession of value would be one that begged forgiveness, realized grace and repented of ever doing it again. Why would we expect any value in merely telling God what we have done? There is a whole lot more to it.

I am disappointed in my own denomination which does not have much of a place for confession. It is rarely preached or given opportunity. On the other hand, I am also disappointed in Christian groups which promote confession without repentance. My denomination hardly acknowledges the need for confession which restores righteousness. Others have a confession without repentance which has no value in restoring righteousness.

There is a big difference between being sorry for your sin and being sorry you got caught in your sin. There is a big difference between only acknowledging sin and repenting of sin.

Which one will cleanse us from all unrighteousness? Which one will restore our fellowship with the Lord? I'll let you choose.

1 comment:

Anthony Chia said...

The problem is the teaching of the overly grace or hypergrace preachers and teachers (enough of them) is that 1 John 1:9 is addressing non-believers, and that the Holy Spirit does NOT convict the believers of sin, and confession has no element of repentance, and the subjunctive angle of the verse has nothing to do with them, grace believers! The straw man is this: According to them, when one is saved (to them, there is no entry into salvation or conversion), at that very moment (a one-off moment) ALL the person’s sins, past, present (to me, actually there is no such a thing as a present sin!) and FUTURE ones, is forgiven him. This is the core theology of the overly grace brethren. When all has been forgiven at that ONE moment in the past of a believer, it mandates therefore, no more asking forgiveness, no more sin to forgive about, and so, no unrighteousness to be cleansed EVER!

One active overly grace preacher explained that confession is to be made to help us receive grace BEFORE a sin! Now, I said, there is no such thing as a present sin. If you sinned, it is past, if you have NOT sinned, there is no sin yet. Now, 1 John 1:9 is NOT about some “general confession” of “whatever”, but is specifically on confession of sins. This preacher talked about he was in a lust situation but had NOT sinned (he claimed NOT yet!), and he said he confessed to the Lord, and purportedly he received God’s grace and the lust situation vanished.

Please-lah, petitioning God for his help (his help is grace), is petitioning for help, NOT confessing of a sin! Why resist sin or run away from it, if one has believed that God already had forgiven him his sin that he is about to commit NOW; why make God out to have done something (forgave a sin NOT going to happen), He needn’t have done, because it won’t happen, for he is resisting the sin NOW. Actually, if he is true to his theology, he should go ahead to sin, so that he doesn’t make God out to doing the irrelevant (or even a liar!). Our lives are NOT a movie already directed and filmed, and now being screened, that we can change NOT anything in it, please. No wonder this same preacher taught “To he who overcomes” in Scripture, is just another way of “a believer”; nothing to overcome! Why overcome temptation then?

Of course, you are NOT in this category, Ps Prentis. You and I are NOT in some already directed and filmed, and now being screened movie, but we are living in real-time, as wheat in a world where tares, and all sorts of weeds are present (re: Parable of the wheat and tares), having our hands on the rope in a tug-of-war, one side beckoning us to overcome temptations to sin (with the help of the Spirit), the other, temptations (by evil) to go back to the “vomit or the mud”. 2 Pet 2:20-22 reads:

“20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.” “

Why the metaphor of “vomit” and “mud”? Because when we get back into such, we need to be cleansed again! And if we are recalcitrant and stubborn, numbing our conscience to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, refusing to repent, and confessing our sins, in contrite of heart and humility, we be warned. God is NOT mocked (Gal 6:7-9).

Anthony Chia, high.expressions
Those wanting to read my articles on 1 John 1:9 can hop over to:
1. 1 John 1:9 is for believers -
2. 1 john 1:9 – Q&As -