How many of you love being wrong? None of us genuinely enjoy admitting when we’ve blown it. We’d instead make excuses and point the finger at someone else than admit we messed up. There’s a lot of shame when acknowledging that we’re wrong. This stunts our spiritual growth and connection with God.
We’re in the fourth week of a series called Pray Like This… We want to build on whatever foundation of prayer you started with a month ago. We’re taking The Lord’s Prayer and breaking it down line-by-line to learn about different tools and ways to pray. Today, we’re talking about confession. Which means we’ve got to talk about the s-word this morning.
“Forgive us of our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.” – Matthew 6:12 (NLT)
What Is Sin?
Sin is the actions and thoughts that create space between us, God, and other people. Sometimes sin is objective. “Do not murder” is pretty objective. Murdering is a sin that creates space between you and God. Another one is “Do not steal.” While less obvious than murder, theft creates distance between you, God, and others (like the person robbed). Other times, sin is more subjective. The answer could be yes, depending on who you are; it could be no, depending on who you are.
The Bible isn’t a giant cosmic rulebook. It’s the story of God. In that story are people and our sins. We need help fixing it. That’s the humble part of Christianity. Being a Jesus follower is recognizing and acknowledging that we can’t fix ourselves on our own – we’re just not good enough. God does the work of redemption for us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Our faith is not about doing something; our faith is about something that has been done. If you could have saved yourself, Jesus could have saved the trip. Author Pete Greig writes that the book on which the series is based,
“Our greatest need and God’s greatest gift are the same thing: the forgiveness of sins.”
And a little bit of bad news today. I will sin again. You will sin again. We’re all gonna sin again. Which is why confession is so important. Confession is about becoming more like Jesus, and receiving forgiveness.
John, one of Jesus’s disciples and closest friends, writes:
“If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—simply come clean about them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we’ve never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God” (1 John 1:8-10, MSG).
Responding To Our Sin
Unfortunately, many respond to sin by denying it or dwelling on it. Too often, we live in denial for long periods and then feel like God is distant. We wonder why did God Leave us? God didn’t leave anyone. We took small steps away from God every day by denying our wrongdoings. It was a little journey for an extended period. Confession can help close the gap again. If you feel far from God, confession is the prayer for you.
Other times we dwell on our sins. Some of us deny it, and others of us obsess about it. I’m more on this side of it. I will think about my mistakes. All the things I said that I shouldn’t have said or how I should have said that differently, or how I should have handled that situation differently. The beautiful thing about confession is it’s just giving it to God.
When it comes to confessing our sins. It’s not about feeling robbed, dead, or destroyed. If, when confessing to God your sins, you feel any of those things, you’re confessing to the wrong entity. When we confess our sins to God, we should feel more alive. That’s the power of confession.
It’s not about denying or dwelling on sin. Confession is about giving it to God. It begins to heal the fracture between God and us. This prayer is for you, and it’s for our good.
How To Practice Confession
How do we practice confession? The first thing we do is reflect. David says,
“Search me, O God, and know my heart. test me and know my anxious thoughts” (Psalm 139:23).
We invite God to search us and make us aware of aspects of our lives that we are unaware of. We don’t just reflect alone; we ask God to join us. God, help me understand what’s going on in my heart. What do I need to confess?
In the New Testament, repentance comes from the Greek word metanoia, which means to change one’s mind. In the Old Testament, the word is a teshuva, which means returning to where I originally came from. Repentance and confession cause me to return to my true self.
When we repent and confess our sins, it’s about changing our minds. We reflect we repent, and then we are restored.
The First Confession
Ongoing confession is what I’ve spent most of today talking about. To be clear, there’s a difference between the first and ongoing confessions. The first confession is the first time you acknowledge your sin. It’s when we recognize our need for a Savior and ask for forgiveness. At which point in the New Testament, we’re told to be baptized. For some of you, your next step is to confess and be baptized. If you want more information about this step, fill out this form.