I remember the day I met Jesus. It was in a basement in Chicago. I was invited by a friend and when I got there and swung the door open I saw other 20-something people like me. They were sitting around long tables that had Bibles piled on the ends. There were bowls of snacks as well and pens and paper.
That day in September would change my life forever. I would go from a self-righteous young woman who one day hoped to go to heaven, to someone who knew she was a sinner in need of a Savior. And the things we’d learn week after week would open my mind to the truths of God’s Word. Every class I was there—Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights, and fellowship that was so sweet we hated it to end so we’d move it over to the International House of Pancakes, affectionately called, IHOP. And we’d sit for a couple of hours more.
We couldn’t get enough of sharing about what God was doing in our lives.
Why Confess Sins?
We were encouraged to bring our questions to Lois, the woman with the jeans and the long dangling earrings. And bring them we did. I remember clearly when the subject of confession came up.
“Do we need to confess our sins?” someone bravely asked.
Lois explained that for those of us who had put our trust in Jesus and what he did on the cross, our sins were forgiven. He washed them away with his perfect blood. The only thing that satisfied the heart of God.
“So we don’t need to confess our sins?” The girl asked.
Lois answered, “When we blow it after trusting in Christ, the accuser, Satan, stands there and points it out. But Jesus says to God, ‘Father, she believes in me.’”
Sure enough someone in the group brought up 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
All eyes were on Lois. If our sins were forgiven, why do we need to confess them?
The Purpose of Confession
Our confession isn’t something we do in order to be forgiven. It’s an acknowledgement to God that we did sin. So when we blow it and God’s Holy Spirit points it out, we agree that we sinned and then thank God that it was forgiven.
As I’ve walked with the Lord all these years, looking back on that wonderfully sweet time, I am forever thankful for all the teaching we received. And I’ve found that God is still faithful in pointing out when I’ve sinned. But with God it’s never a shaming thing. Instead, he tells me that what I did does not look good on me.
It’s then I can agree with God and once again thank him for sending Jesus for me. If we sinned and never acknowledged it, we would somehow devalue the payment Jesus made. We would perhaps act like entitled children who don’t care if we blow it. After all, it’s forgiven, isn’t it?
Living in Righteousness
I’m so thankful that God gave me the gift of salvation and attributed his righteousness to me because I accepted that invaluable gift. No one has ever loved us as he does (John 15:13).
Confession gives us the opportunity to admit when we’ve chosen the wrong path, thank God for the great sacrifice his Son made for us, and rest in the fact that we are works in progress. For Paul told us in Philippians 1:6, that he who began a work in us will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Knowing that we’re forgiven doesn’t make us want to sin, but instead reminds us of what it was that nailed Jesus to that cross; what it was that made the Father look away when he bore our sins. Jesus went through all of that because he was looking at the joy set before him. He was looking at those who would someday believe. He was looking at you and me (Hebrews 12:2).
I remember asking God one day if there had been any other way this could be accomplished and as he often does, he gave me a poem. And here is just one part:
He whispers, I love you, that’s why I died for thee.
He whispers, I love you, that’s why on Calvary.
I hung there, and bled there, your sins to wash away.
Believe me when I tell you this, there was no other way.
Confession, to me, is just agreeing with God that what he did was necessary and I know it.