Confess to One Another

Confess to One Another

Confess to One Another.

“Confess your sins to each other.” (James 5:16).

Confess: to acknowledge openly; to freely admit to wrongdoing; to announce one’s guilt; to concede one’s shortcomings; to repent of sins; to agree with God that the sin is a sin.

a. Mutual Confession. The research of the Orthodox Church states that the ancient Christian custom was to confess sins mutually, to one another, as an act of repentance. As the church grew, though, this practice became more difficult as they had to consider confessing to strangers. So the priest of the Body would represent the people of the Church and hear the confession. The Orthodox Church believes that a mere private confession to God alone was not supported in scripture. We need to somehow acknowledge our sin to the community, whether privately or publically. The Orthodox believe that 1 John 1:9 is in the context of mutual confession, in community: “If we confess our sins to Him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

b. “Confess and acknowledge how you have offended one another, and then pray for one another to be instantly restored, for tremendous power is released through the passionate heartfelt prayer of a godly believer.” (James 5:16, TPT).

c. Don’t keep your sins a secret. When we are hiding our wrongdoings from one another, there’s a good chance we are keeping our sin from God, and even from ourself. Confession is good for the soul, it clears the conscience and gives us peace, it strengthens our emotions, and stabilizes the mind. If our sin has harmed the community in some way, we need to consider a more public confession. If we have sinfully offended an individual, we need to seek out that person and confess privately. If we are on intimate terms with a small group and want them to support us as we seek to overcome a troublesome sin, confess to the small group. If we have a spiritual director or a deep friend who understands our life journey, confess to him/her. If we want a spiritual authority to represent us to God, and who thus will reassure us of God’s forgiveness and mercy, confess to our priest, pastor, or other minister. Confess our sins to one another, and be forgiven by the Lord of Love.

d. “People who conceal their sins will not prosper; but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13, NLT).

e. “He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone. In confession the break-through to community takes place. Sin demands to have a man by himself. It withdraws him from the community. The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous is his isolation. The sin must be brought into the light. The sin concealed separated him from the fellowship; the sin confessed has helped him to find true fellowship in Jesus Christ. Now he stands in the fellowship of sinners who live by the grace of God in the Cross of Jesus Christ.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together; a note: since his book was written to the community of men living in his charge, he refers solely to the masculine gender).

f. “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed.” (James 5:16, Message).

g. Generally, a private time with God for self-examination and acknowledgement of sins is helpful before confession. The following is an excerpt from the “Exhortation” before Communion in the Book of Common Prayer: “Examine your lives and conduct by the rule of God’s commandments, that you may perceive wherein you have offended in what you have done or left undone, whether in thought, word, or deed. And acknowledge your sins before Almighty God, with full purpose of amendment of life, being ready to make restitution for all injuries and wrongs done by you to others.”

h. “As the open confession of my sins to a brother insures me against self-deception, so, too, the assurance of forgiveness becomes fully certain to me only when it is spoken by a brother in the name of God.” (Bonhoeffer, Life Together).

i. Public General Confession: “Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy upon us and forgive us, that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.” (BCP).

And the Priest’s Response: Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in eternal life. Amen.” (BCP).

j. “Where there is deep anxiety and trouble over one’s own sins, where the certainty of forgiveness is sought, there comes the invitation in the Name of Jesus to come to brotherly confession.” (Bonhoeffer, Life Together).

k. A private confession of particular sins before a brother or sister in the Lord: (Confession of sins) … “Therefore, O Lord, from these and all other sins I cannot now remember, I turn to you in sorrow and repentance. Receive me again into the arms of your mercy, and restore me to the blessed company of your faithful people, through Him in whom you have redeemed the world, your Son our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.” (BCP).

l. “Confess to one another therefore your faults, your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins…” (James 5:16a, Amplified).

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