Last week we started a new message series called “Touching God.” The way that we touch and interact with God is through prayer. Prayer is how you can build a relationship with God. Speaking to God and listening to what He has to say.
Our message today is entitled “Confess Your Sins.” A prayer of confession of your sins is the most important prayer you will ever pray. Your first confession of your sins along with putting your trust in Jesus changes your eternal destiny as you become a child of God. But a prayer of confession is one of the most important prayers you need to keep on praying. Why? Because confession is the way to be forgiven and to change to become more like Jesus. Jesus began His ministry with the simple words we find in …
Matthew 4:17 (ESV) From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
After Jesus had ascended into heaven, the early church had the same message …
Acts 2:38 (ESV) And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
What is the first and most important thing commanded in these two verses? It is to repent. What does it mean to repent? The Greek word for repent is metanoeo which means to turn around. To repent therefore is to admit that you have sinned (confession) and then to turn away from that sin, turning to follow God’s direction. Sin in the Bible means to miss the mark. God’s will for your life is like a target. When you do something contrary to God’s Word, knowingly or unknowingly, you sin, you miss the mark. To repent is to confess that sin and turn to get your life back on target with God.
To clear up some misunderstanding about repentance, let’s talk about what it is not. To repent of a sin is not simply to be sorry that you did it. Some people knowingly sin, thinking that after they get what they want, they can say sorry and receive God’s forgiveness. That’s not the case. Repentance means that if you were in the same situation again, you wouldn’t sin. You have changed your mind about that sin, now realizing how wrong it was. Let’s look at a verse in the Lord’s prayer that deals with confession of sin.
Matthew 6:12 (ESV) and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
To truly pray this aspect of the Lord’s prayer, you must repent of specific sins that you have committed. Secondly, you must also forgive people who have sinned against you in order to be forgiven. Unforgiveness towards others means no forgiveness for you. Confession and repentance is letting go of the sin in our lives, including the sin of unforgiveness towards others.
This morning as we go through this message, God will be speaking to each one of us to let go of the known sin in our lives. For some it may be a sin of unforgiveness towards another person who has hurt you. For others it may be other kinds of sins that you have committed. How do we let go of sin? By confessing it specifically to God and repenting, turning away from that sin and seeking to follow God.
Today, we’re going to be looking at a passage of Scripture from 1 John 1-2. This passage will help us learn how to better walk with God without sin and how to deal with sin when we do fall into it. First we must …
1 John 1:5 (ESV) This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
In the Bible, light symbolizes purity and righteousness, that is lack of sin. Darkness symbolizes impurity, sin and unrighteousness. God is characterized by absolute purity, with not a trace of sin or imperfection in Him. This true of the three members of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So as believers, what should our lives and walk be like?
1 John 1:6 (ESV) If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
First John speaks of the negative, what we are not to be like. Some would say they are believers, they say that have fellowship with God. Yet, they walk in darkness. To walk in darkness is to repeatedly and knowingly engage in sin. To say that you are a believer when you are walking in sin is to commit another sin, to lie. To practice the truth is to tell the truth and to walk in the light by not sinning. That is the only way that you can …
1 John 1:7 (ESV) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
If we live or walk in the light, God’s light, then we can have fellowship in two dimensions. The first dimension of fellowship when we walk in the light is with other believers in your church family. To have fellowship is to have a relationship with others in the church family. A relationship rooted in your common beliefs and ministry in God’s kingdom.
Secondly, when we walk in the light, then we have fellowship with God. We can have fellowship with a holy God because Jesus’ blood cleanses us from our sin. If we’re walking in the light, why do we need to be cleansed from sin? We’ll discover the answer to that question as we continue in the passage.
How can we determine whether we are walking in the light or the darkness? Many people today say that they alone determine how they should live. If they are living according to their conscience, they say they are walking in the light. However, our passage began by telling us that God is light. God is the one who defines what is light and what is darkness or sin.
How does God define what is light and darkness for us? God has revealed what He is like and what sin is like in the pages of the Bible, written through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. If your conscience has been trained by God through the Scripture, you will have the inner witness of the Spirit as well, regarding light and darkness. God commands us to walk in the light as He has revealed the light that He dwells in. Next, we learn how to walk and keep walking in God’s light.
1 John 1:8 (ESV) If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
The Bible teaches that all people without exception have sinned. So to say or even believe that a person has no sin is to deceive themselves. The first step in having a relationship with God is to be truthful with Him. To admit that you do have sin in your life. Believers also must admit their sin. Sin in the life of a person damages their relationship with God, sin allows darkness to enter a life. It’s not enough to simply admit to yourself that you have sin, you must …
1 John 1:9-10 (ESV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
I’ve underlined 1 John 1:9 because it is a good verse to memorize. Let’s look at a it more closely. To confess your sin is to confess it to someone else, in this verse, to confess them to God. When we confess and repent of our sin, something wonderful happens. God forgives us, which means that we do not have to be separated from God and spend eternity in hell. Not only are we forgiven, but God goes inside of us and cleans us up. He cleanses our lives of the darkness of our sin. Once our sin is forgiven, we are back to walking in the light.
Let’s look at a verse from another passage to see the connection between confession of sin and how to …
James 5:16 (ESV) Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
When there is unconfessed sin in a person’s life, it allows spiritual darkness and at times physical illness to enter. We know from Jesus’ ministry that not all sickness is caused by sin in a person’s life, but some sickness is caused by a person’s sin.
The remedy is to confess your sins, not just to God, but to other believers. Then the other believers can pray for physical healing for your body. Notice, it says the prayer of a righteous person has great power. A righteous person is not a perfect person, but a person who has learned to quickly confess their sin and to be cleansed of unrighteousness.
Sin always brings darkness and separation from God and other believers. Confession of sin to God and others brings light and wholeness into a person’s life and relationships. When do we need to confess our sins to one another? One important case is when a person has a life-controlling problem or sin that they cannot break free of on their own.
That’s what happens in our Living Free group. People confess their sins that are dominating them to the group and the group prays for healing. If you have a friend or relative that needs to break free from a life-controlling problem, invite them to attend Living Free on Thursdays at 6:30 pm.
According to Jesus in the Lord’s prayer, our personal sins needs to be confessed to Him on a daily basis. Without confession, your life will never change. But with confession of your sins, the places in your life where you have missed God’s mark, God will cleanse you and help you become more the person He created you to be. Finally, we need to learn to …
1 John 2:1-2 (ESV) My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
As a believer, you don’t have to sin. In fact, as you grow in God, you should sin less and less. However, if you sin, which you will, it is not the end of the world. Why? Because Jesus Christ paid the price for your sins and the sins of everyone who puts their faith in Jesus Christ. How can we learn to sin less or not to sin? It’s by …
1 John 2:3-4 (ESV) And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,
What is the fruit of a believer’s life? Here John tells us the most obvious fruit of a believer’s life. A believer is to keep God’s commands, that is, he does what is right and shuns what is wrong in his lifestyle. If someone says that they know God, but don’t keep the commands written down in the Bible. Then, what they are saying is not true, they do not know God. Everyone who knows God will follow God’s commands and they will …
1 John 2:5-6 (ESV) but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
Keeping God’s Word is to keep or obey His commands. That is hitting the mark of God’s purpose for your life. As we confess our sins and are cleansed, God’s love is perfected in our lives. To have assurance of your salvation, to know that you truly are a believer who abides in Christ, you must walk in the light as Jesus did.
Some years ago, the acronym WWJD was popular, what would Jesus do in any situation. That is basically what these verses are saying. A true believer will do the things that Jesus did and will say the things that Jesus said. A true believer will walk in the light, confessing any sins of darkness and continuing to abide in Christ.
Many people pray earnestly for God to change their circumstances. There’s a place for those kinds of prayers. However, often, God is more interested in changing us then our circumstances. In fact, oftentimes God allows unpleasant circumstances into our lives to help us change. How does God change us through circumstances? Those unpleasant circumstances often reveal sin in our lives.
Sometimes difficult circumstances reveal the sins of worry and anxiety. Other times difficult circumstances with other people reveal the sins of anger, hatred and unforgiveness. In yet other times, financial difficulties reveal the sin of trusting in our finances rather than giving to God and trusting Him for our needs. As God reveals and convicts us of sin in our lives, we must repent, turn away from that sin and continue to abide in Christ.
God wants each of us to walk in the light, having fellowship with God and other believers in our church family. To keep walking in the light, we mustn’t deny our sin, but confess it. We always must confess to God and sometimes to other believers in order to receive healing in our lives. Finally, our lives should be lives of abiding in Christ, keeping His commands and seeking to walk as Jesus walked. As we do those things, God will continue to bless us so that we can be a blessing.