Confession – Sharing our deepest weakness and failures with God and trusted others, so that we may enter into God’s grace and mercy and experience his ready forgiveness and healing.
If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
When Jesus died on the cross, he took in all the sins of the world past and present. We are freed from sin if we but confess and ask for forgiveness. Confession requires us to be honest. Perhaps we are ashamed of our sin., so we hide our sin from others. Or perhaps we are unwilling to turn from our sin, so we hide it even from ourselves, denying that our thoughts or actions are wrong. In either case, sin can do untold damage to our souls, if we do not have the courage to shine God’s healing light upon it.
Confession can be a private matter between an individual and God; nothing more is required for forgiveness. As 1 Timothy 2:5 tells us, For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human. But we can also confess to others, to a trusted friend or pastor, as James 5:16 instructs: Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another.
Confession has three distinct parts: “an examination of conscience, sorrow, and a determination to avoid sin.” First, we invite God to show us areas where we need forgiveness and healing, focusing is possible on specific sins rather than general confessions. Next, we feel sorrow, in the sense that we deeply regret our sin and the grief it has caused God and others. Finally, we resolve to turn away from our sin. We ask God for the strength and courage to love and desire God’s way and to hate anything that keeps us from it.
As Richard Foster writes in Celebration of Discipline, “Confession is a difficult Discipline for us because we all too often view the believing community as a fellowship of saints before we see it as a fellowship of sinners. We feel that everyone else has advanced so far into holiness that we are isolated and alone in our sin.” (Page 145)