“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)
As we have noted in our previous blog, confession is more than just verbally acknowledging that we have done something wrong or failed to do something right in the sight of God. Confession also means to acknowledge our sin to God and to have the same perspective towards it as God does. Confession means to see our sin as the cosmic treason against God that it is. We are to confess our sin to God while at the same time seeking to live lives which glorify Him. In other words, confession involves not only acknowledgment of sin but also a turning away, or repentance, of it.
Dr. Sinclair Ferguson explains that confession involves four basic disciplines.
First, admit sin for what it really is. “Call a spade a spade — call it “sexual immorality,” not “I’m being tempted a little”; call it “impurity,” not “I’m struggling with my thought life”; call it “evil desire, which is idolatry,” not “I think I need to order my priorities a bit better. How powerfully this unmasks self-deceit — and helps us to unmask sin lurking in the hidden corners of our hearts!”
Second, see sin for what your sin really is in God’s presence. “My sin leads to — not lasting pleasure — but holy divine displeasure. See the true nature of your sin in the light of its punishment. Too easily do we think that sin is less serious in Christians than it is in non-believers: “It’s forgiven, isn’t it?” Not if we continue in it (1 John 3:9)! Take a heaven’s-eye view of sin and feel the shame of that in which you once walked (Col. 3:7; see also Rom. 6:21).”
Third, recognize the inconsistency of your sin. “You put off the “old man,” and have put on the “new man” (3:9–10). You are no longer the “old man.” The identity you had “in Adam” is gone. The old man was “crucified with him [Christ] in order that the body of sin [probably “life in the body dominated by sin”] might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Rom. 6:6). New men live new lives. Anything less than this is a contradiction of who I am “in Christ.”
Fourth, put sin to death (Col. 3:5). “It is as “simple” as that. Refuse it, starve it, and reject it. You cannot “mortify” sin without the pain of the kill. There is no other way!”
Dr. Ferguson concludes by saying, “The negative task of putting sin to death will not be accomplished in isolation from the positive call of the Gospel to “put on” the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 13:14). Paul spells this out in Colossians 3:12–17. Sweeping the house clean simply leaves us open to a further invasion of sin. But when we understand the “glorious exchange” principle of the Gospel of grace, then we will begin to make some real advance in holiness. As sinful desires and habits are not only rejected, but exchanged for Christ-like graces (3:12) and actions (3:13); as we are clothed in Christ’s character and His graces are held together by love (v. 14), not only in our private life but also in the church fellowship (vv. 12–16), Christ’s name and glory are manifested and exalted in and among us (3:17).”
May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!