Ready for life change?
When I was a kid, like a lot of boys my age, I got a bb gun for Christmas. I had a lot of fun with it; and though I came close a time or two, thankfully, I didn’t shoot my eye out. But I must confess, I did something with that bb gun that I’m not proud of; I don’t know what I was thinking… maybe I was bored, or curious, or just plain stupid, but one day I was wondering what might happen if I shot a bb at our neighbor’s bathroom window.
Our neighbors were in Florida for the winter, so I knew they weren’t home… and from where I stood, across the road, 100 plus feet away, I thought surely the bb would just ping off the window, no big deal; but I never thought about what would happen if it didn’t. Stupidly, I fired the shot. The window splintered; my heart jumped in my chest and I quickly looked around to make sure no one had seen me fire that round, then I retreated into the house. I never spoke of that shot to anyone… I kept it to myself… Shortly after my neighbor’s returned home that Spring, I waited for the police or FBI to show up at our door. They never came.
Sometime later, the window was replaced. I felt like the coast was clear; but there was something else that wasn’t clear… my conscience. I could not escape the sin I knew I had committed. I was a young Christ-Follower and I knew what I had done was wrong. I had to come clean with God. My relationship with Him was as broken as that window. I confessed to Him my treacherous sin. It was my first memorable confession; sadly, it would not be my last.
The truth is, we all have fired those foolish shots in our lives. We have all broken windows with our very poor choices… we have broken relationships with those we love most, including our relationship with God.
When we sin, we have two options. We can live with the sin, the regret, guilt, and loss of joy that comes with it; or we can confess the sin, and allow God to restore our lost joy and change our lives going forward!
The Bible is clear about that… 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23. I don’t think I have to convince you that you, like me, are a sinner desperately in need of God’s grace and forgiveness. When we confess, we have the opportunity to experience God’s amazing grace…. 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:24
What happens when we confess?
1) We are justified freely or delivered from the penalty of sin by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. (Romans 4:25)
2) We are generously offered God’s gift of grace, which we don’t deserve. (Ephesians 2:8)
3) We are redeemed and our sin debt is paid in full! (Ephesians 1:7)
When we confess, we experience God’s amazing grace! Who doesn’t want that? But why is confessing so important for us? Confession is essential for healing and life change. God is not done with us! Just because we believe and have been saved doesn't mean we are perfect. God is still at work in us… this is the process of sanctification. To sanctify is to set apart or to make holy. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. Hebrews 10:14
Even though we are set free from the grip of sin by Christ’s sacrifice, we still sin. We make foolish choices; we are not perfect… we break windows. We confess so God can continue His sanctifying work in us… so He can change us!
Some people see confession as rattling off a laundry list of mistakes they have made… Another pastor said a “mistake” is something we make on a math test; a sin is not a mistake; it is a transgression and rebellion against God Himself. It is never to be treated flippantly or parenthetically, but seriously and confessionally. It is an essential first step toward healing and change. It is necessary for transformation to happen! (Romans 12:2)
I don’t have a lot of room left in this article, but I want to offer you seven steps to take when confessing. For much more detail, I encourage you to take time to listen to the sermon link below. It will be time well spent.
7 Steps for Confessing
Step 1 - Prepare my heart. If I’m going to authentically confess my sin, my heart must be in it. Confession is not a mechanical ritual. It is not some mythical act with magical words. Too many people see confession as some kind of a religious box to check off so they can clear their conscience or get back on God’s good side. Confession begins with a desire to align your heart with God’s heart and His expectations for you, to mend the broken relationship with Him that has been created by your own sin. It is to pray as the Psalmist… 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
Step 2 - Examine my life. Take a really close look at my thoughts, my words, and my actions to determine where I have fallen short, missed the mark, sinned. 2 Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; Psalm 26:2. Invite the Holy Spirit to convict you; examine your actions in light of the expectations in God’s Word, including the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3ff)
Step 3 - Avoid excusing your sin by judging others. It is easy to get atop our moral high horse and look down at someone else and say, “Well, at least I didn’t do that!” Jesus rebuked those who were quick to excuse their own sin by comparing themselves to others. (Luke 6:41-42).
Step 4 - Share the specifics of your sin. It is easier to be generic than specific when it comes to sin. God is looking for specifics because that forces us to face our sin and to take responsibility for our actions. Read what David discovered about sin and confessing in Psalm 32:3-5.
Step 5 - Express godly sorrow over sin because it leads to life change! True confession is about life change. Confession always involves repentance… turning in the other direction! But you won’t change without godly sorrow. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 2 Corinthians 7:10. Godly sorrow is produced by the Holy Spirit. It leads to repentance, salvation, restored joy and life change. Worldly sorrow is just about feeling badly or embarrassed or guilty because you were caught. It doesn’t change anything.
Step 6 - Commit to change! Wanting to change is not enough… Knowing you need to change is not enough… Commit to do whatever it takes to really change, to steer clear of that sin going forward. Read about the life change Zacchaeus experienced in Luke 19. His life change was the fruit of his salvation. True confession always involve a commitment to change going forward.
Step 7 - Experience God’s amazing grace! This is the wonderful payoff of confession. When we authentically confess, we fully understand and appreciate the words of that beautiful hymn, Amazing Grace.
For much more, please click here to listen to or watch Best Practices - Part 4 - The Practice of Confessing.