Confess Your Faults One To Another
The world of our day wants us to tone it down when we talk about sin. But we must speak out loud and clear that the thing that can most hurt us as Christians is sin. Sin can cause us to be lost eternally. Sin disturbs everything that is good and righteous. It brings wars, fightings, misery and heartache. Sin destroys relationships with both man and God. Sin pays such horrible wages. "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23) David's sad lament over sin describes the feeling of every conscientious Christian who has disappointed His maker. He wrote, "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation." (Psalms 51:1-12)
Sin, for anyone, is a destructive thing. This is especially true for Christians. Sin debases and destroys all that is good. Sin digs a deep grave for us! Sin is lawlessness or it is living as if there is no God. "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." (1 John 3:4) Transgression is lawlessness. Sin is a demonstration of a lack of faith on our part. It is a plague of our heart. Sin is "filthiness of the flesh and spirit." (2 Corinthians 7:1) Sin causes our heart to become "desperately wicked." (Jeremiah 17:9) Anguish over sin, an attitude of repentance and confession of sins are necessary qualities for Christian growth and development. Christians need both forgiveness and cleansing.
Confessing sins does good for the sinner. There is something healthy and refreshing for your soul to confess your sins. David said, ''I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah." (Psalms 32:5) The least we can do as Christians, if we would be forgiven, is to confess our faults to God and to others. Those who are too proud to do that deserve what ever punishment might come to them. God knows our thoughts, our words and our actions. Nothing is hidden from Him. "Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether." (Psalms 139:3-4) Yet, if we as Christians are willing to repent and confess our sins God is willing to forgive. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9) There is something spiritually healthy about Christians confessing their sins both to God and to other people. "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16)
Confessing sins demands a time and a place. Our sins must be confessed. Some sins can be dealt with between the person and God. All sins need to be confessed before God and some need to be confessed before the church. There is a time and place that the church needs to allow disciples to admit their sins. The most wonderful thing that I know is that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sins. Paul wrote, "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." (Ephesians 1:7) Observe 1 John 1:7-9, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." First John was written to combat false teaching. (1 John 4:1) The test for those who would serve God is seen first in the conduct of people. Do they walk in the light? (1 John 1:6-7) Second, do they recognize and confess their sins. (1 John 1:7-10). Third, do they hold to the correct creed? The correct creed is that Jesus Christ the righteous is our advocate with the Father and He is the propitiation for our sins. It is difficult, if not impossible, to experience personal intimacy with Jesus Christ when I am unwilling to repent of my sins and acknowledge them before God and others.
Confessing sins is necessary in order to receive forgiveness. Those that served God in both Old Testament and New Testament days disappointed Him and themselves. When this happened the solution was to repent of the sin and confess that wrong. David did this boldly and openly. Psalm 130 is a good example of David's actions. "Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD. Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning. Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.' (Psalms 130:1-8) In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught people to pray saying, "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." (Matthew 6:12) Divine displeasure over our sin brings discipline, reproof and correction. When the brokenhearted and penitent Christian confesses his sins he receives God's mercy and forgiveness and the forgiveness of brethren also.
Confessing sins publicly. The Bible says in James 5:16, "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16) It is proper for a Christian to make such a confession and it is equally proper to use the assembly of the saints for such a confession. Observe Matthew 18:15-18, "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 18:15-18) This started out as a private matter. One brother has sinned against another brother. The remedy was for the confronted brother to repent, confess the wrong and resolve the matter. "If he hear you, you have gained your brother." No public confession was needed because there was no public knowledge of the wrong. The sin would be made know in a public way only if the brother failed to make it right. If the brother does not repent one or two other are to plead with him also. If he still refuses repentance the church is told about the sin and should try to persuade the brother to repent. This man's confession should be just as public as the sin. When only two were involved the sinner confessed to the person against whom he had sinned. If he had repented when 1-2 others got involved, that small group would be the extent of the needed confession exists. If the church has to be involved the need for a public confession of that sin is in order. One purpose for the public confession of sins is to obtain the prayers of the righteous on behalf of the sinner. (James 5:16, Acts 8:22-24) Another reason for the public confession is to make knowledge of the brother's repentance as public as was the knowledge of his sin. These are universal principles from the word of God.
The universal principles of confessing sin explained. Suppose that I was so angry with a brother that I wanted to do him harm. Nothing was done or said that was wrong. It was only a thought. Should I confess that to him? I should definitely not do such. Suppose he and I quarreled and cursed each other. Should confession be made? Yes, to each other or if a small number heard it to them only. If it is a public matter then confess publicly and quickly. Suppose you see some a brother in Christ on TV news being arrested for drunkenness and he is resisting and cursing the policeman. He later repents and asks God to forgive him. He continues to teach or do other works in the church without any public confession. Would such an action please God? Never! A public confession becomes imperative in such cases. Let us be humble enough to make things right with God and others. (1 Peter 5:5) As we pray together for one another there is strength and there is confidence in God to forgive. Let us never become too proud or too sophisticated to confess our sins. "Faithful Christians, who know of our sin are concerned about our souls, cannot even pray for us to be forgiven unless we let them know we realize our sin and have repented."
Let us do our best as Christians not to sin. Even in doing that we should not deny that we are sinful. When we sin we should confess our sins to God. We should not try to hide our sins but we should repent of them and ask God for forgiveness. "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." (Proverbs 28:13)
Will you accept God's wonderful good news that Jesus died for your sins? Will you be baptized into Christ to put on Christ so that your sins can be forgiven by His blood? "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Galatians 3:26-27) Believers contact Christ's saving blood by being baptized into His death. Those that become children of God have reason to rejoice. (Acts 8:39) Rejoicing follows man's response to God's good news of forgiveness by the death of Jesus.
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA