What Confession Is and Isn’t

“Confession of sin is one of the missing ingredients in the life of today’s Christian. We feel bad all the time, but often it’s over the wrong things. And when we do feel sorry for our sin, we don’t know what to do with it. We feel like we would be cheapening the blood of Christ if we confessed again. So we hesitate to repent. We feel bad, but we don’t confess and enjoy a clean conscience.” Kevin DeYoung

“Repentance is not usually a moment wrought in high drama. It is the steady drumbeat of a life in Christ and, therefore, a day in Christ.” Tish Warren

“The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works.” Augustine

Confession is the acknowledgement to God of our sin, brokenness, and waywardness in order to be cleansed and restored to him. It’s an essential practice of the Christian, even though it’s often neglected or relegated to when we feel like we’ve really blown it. But with all the misunderstandings of confession, what is it?

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First We Confess, Then We Cling

(Below is a Communion Meditation I shared at my local church. This was one way to remember and rejoice in Christ through Communion, not a detailed explanation of it.)

Follow the logic of 1 John as we think about how confession of our sin should lead to clinging to our savior.

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Confession of Sin

There are things we take for granted until we really need them. Like windshield wipers. I vividly remember driving down the interstate in a downpour. Rain pounded my car. As I flipped my wipers into high-speed, they suddenly caught on one another. Not good. I pulled over to the shoulder, jumped out of the safety of my dry car, and got soaked as I separated the wipers like two fighting children. They worked after that, and as I exhaled a deep, grateful breath, I grasped the value of windshield wipers.

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A Fitting Response when Sinners See God’s Glory

What is the proper response to seeing God? When we consider His glory, holiness, righteousness, faithfulness, power, knowledge, patience, and grace, what’s the right way to react? To add another factor, when we take this vision of God, and put next to it a realistic vision of who we are, then what’s a fitting response? What do sinful, limited, selfish, weak, broken, flawed, and impure creatures like us do before the infinite and almighty God?

Seeing God’s holiness and glory, and recognizing our sinfulness and frailty, is why people in the Bible commonly respond in humility and brokenness.

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Seven Elements of Biblical Repentance

I know, repentance isn’t your favorite word. It’s not mine either. No doubt it conjures up something like an angry turn-or-burn “preacher” (either pounding the pulpit or screaming in the streets) letting people have it or an ultra-fundamentalist family member unhappy with your choices of what’s right or wrong. Despite the bad taste that might be lingering in your mouth for words like “repent” and “repentance”, let’s together seek to move past those barriers and rediscover what God actually says about repentance. It might never be for your favorite word or your favorite part of being a Christian, but as we look into God’s Word I think we’ll see that repentance is meant to be a life-giving, sin-replacing, gospel-rooted posture of the Christian life. Easy? No. Good? Yes.

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