Confession – Discipline 2014-18
“We aren’t sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners; it is our nature” Do you agree with this statement or understand it?
What is Confession and why is this “Corporate” Discipline?
The simple explanation for the word Confession is “the acknowledgment or disclosure of sin or sinfulness” as it relates to religious undertakings. You can “confess” many things outside of religion though, such as confessing to your spouse that you forgot to do something.
We confess openly at church as a group, which would be with others as one body. We also can confess to another person, such as a Pastor, or even to one another. It is not just a private matter, but is the act of confessing to others, openly. The act of confessing just to God directly also makes us understand that “there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).
Is Confession difficult to do in an open way?
Well, it can be a difficult Discipline, if we look at each other as saints instead of as a fellowship of sinners. We cannot hide from one another with veiled lies and hypocrisy and to be honest and admit our doing something contrary to God’s love is not easy. It is much easier to think we are the only ones who have not messed up and we sometimes cannot bear to reveal our failings to others, including God. But, He already knows your sins.
What about private confession to another? We can, but usually do not do so in our church, other than to our Pastor, perhaps. The followers of Jesus Christ have been given the authority to receive the confession of sin and to forgive it in his name. “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20: 23). Luther believed in private confession, but that was in his day.
“And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those that trespass against us.” (Matthew 6: 9-13) Is this a confession to God asking for forgiveness and does He welcome this way of confessing?
I can remember in the past, praying the Lord’s Prayer, by rote. It was stated, usually with others, as part of the religious service. It was somewhat my confessing to God and asking for forgiveness of sins known and unknown at the time.
God loves to forgive and forget the sin at the same time and delights in forgiving us our sins. When a person asks for forgiveness His unconditional love for us shines and radiates to us. BUT, confession should NOT be by rote as I did in the past, but do not do so now. I now confess my sins, known and unknown, in a different way.
In any confession, what are the things that should be considered when doing so, including the Lord’s Prayer?
First of all, is “An examination of conscience.” This is a time, as Douglas Steere, a Quaker ecumenist (1901-1995), wrote, “where a soul comes under the gaze of God and where in His silent and loving Presence this soul is pierced to the quick and becomes conscious of the things that must be forgiven and put right before it can continue to love One whose care has been so constant.” We invite God to move upon the heart and show us areas that need his forgiving and healing touch.
It is far too easy to avoid our real guilt in a general confession. In our confession we bring concrete sins. This means not just the easy general confession sins, but definite sins, the sins of the heart— pride, avarice, anger, fear— as well as the sins of the flesh— sloth, gluttony, adultery, murder, the real and nasty ones we commit.
Second, let us bring “Sorrow” into our confession with God or with others. This is necessary and is not just an emotion, but abhorrence that we have committed the sin, regretful as having offended the heart of our Father. In fact, being sorrowful in the emotions without a godly sorrow in the will destroys the confession. If we have sorrow as part of our confession we are taking the confession seriously.
The third essential for a good confession is “A determination to avoid sin”. In the Discipline of confession we ask God to give us a yearning for holy living, a hatred for unholy living. It is the will to be delivered from sin that we seek from God as we prepare to make confession. We must desire to be conquered and ruled by God, or if we do not desire it, to desire to desire it. Such a desire is a gracious gift from God. The seeking of this gift is one of the preliminaries for confessing
I heard one time that “Confession is good for the soul”, or words something like that. Well, it may be true, but it amounts to the fact that confessing does not hurt anything and has much for a person to gain from this practice or discipline. What can it hurt? How much can it help? Try it and find out.