In an old covenant and legalistic sense, confession means admitting your crimes and sins. But in the new covenant, confession means agreeing with God. To agree with another is what the word confess literally means. Biblical confession is verbalizing faith in the goodness of God and acknowledging your dependence upon him (Rom. 10:9–10). It’s saying, “God, I believe you are faithful and true and will do all that you promised.”
Manmade religion lifts scriptures out of context and teaches that we must confess our sins one by one to purchase forgiveness for each one. This is an impossible work, and a dead work (see entry for 1 John 1:9). Religion also teaches that we must confess our sins lest God stop talking to us. That’s another dead work.
Confession is good for you, but only when it is done properly. Good or healthy confession is agreeing with God and acknowledging your total dependence on him, while bad or unhealthy confession is verbalizing unbelief in the goodness of God and the finished work of the cross. We can distinguish between healthy and unhealthy confession, as follows:
- Unhealthy confession is an admission of my badness, but healthy confession is a declaration of my trust in God’s goodness (Ps. 145:4–7).
- Unhealthy confession leaves me focused on my needs, my weaknesses, and my shortcomings; healthy confession connects my need with God’s grace, his strength and his limitless provision (Php. 4:19, 2 Cor. 12:9).
- Unhealthy confession puts the focus on me and what I have or haven’t done, but healthy confession puts the focus on Christ and what he has done for me (Rom. 10:9–13).
- Unhealthy confession is based on the hope that I can convince God to do something or give me something to make things better; healthy confession is based on the good news that God has already given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us (2 Pet. 1:3).
- Unhealthy confession is begging God to forgive me; healthy confession is only possible when I know he already has (2 Pet. 1:5–9).
- Unhealthy confession is begging God to bless me; healthy confession is thanking God that in Christ I am already the beneficiary of every blessing there is (Eph. 1:3).
- Unhealthy confession is motivated by a perceived need to restore relationship with God; healthy confession is only possible when I am secure in his promise that he will never leave nor forsake me (Heb. 13:5).
- Unhealthy confession is agreeing with the Accuser that I am still a miserable sinner (“look at what you did!”); healthy confession is agreeing with the Holy Spirit that I am still a saint despite what I did (John 16:10).
True confession is freely acknowledging your total dependence on God’s grace – grace for salvation, sanctification, and every other thing. True confession is faith put into words. Bad confession, such as religion teaches, seems right to man but ultimately leads to death. Good confession leads to life and godliness.
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