The key factor in personal breakthrough is living the confessional life. Yes, that sounds a little strange, but real change begins with understanding confession from a Biblical standpoint. It’s probably not what you think!
What comes to mind when I say the word “Confession”?
• You might think of a police station with a cornered criminal in an interrogation room, finally admitting that he or she “did it.”
• You might think of a kid having a bout of conscience and telling his or her parents something they’ve done or not done.
• You might think about a religious practice with a priest if you’re from a Catholic upbringing.
• If you’re from a protestant denomination, you may have been taught historic confessions of the church, doctrinal statements that you memorized as a child.
The goal here today is to convince you that confession is the key for change, for breakthrough. To do that, we need to figure out what real, Biblical confession is.
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit.
When I kept silent, my bones grew old
Through my groaning all the day long.
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah
I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I have not hidden.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
And You forgave the iniquity of my sin.
David gives us the most important component of breakthrough change. And he does it by comparing a before and after picture from his own life.
When he kept silent, bones grew old, groaning, life drained out of him where he was like brown grass in a hot summer.
When he confessed, God’s release came. In the form of forgiveness, but it’s implied especially as you keep reading this Psalm that his whole situation changes for the better once he confesses the truth to God.
“Yadah” is the Hebrew word for acknowledging and confessing. It comes from a root which means to throw or cast or shoot with follow through. It’s from there that we get our first picture of what confession looks like.
Simply put, confession is a lot like archery.
When I was a teen my Dad got me into archery. He bought me a bow and target arrows and we started shooting those arrows. One Saturday afternoon we got in the car and went to an open field. Dad got out a kite and we put it up in the air. Then we stood back from the kite and shot at it.
• Confession knows its target and knows what it’s throwing or shooting at that target. You don’t shoot rocks with a bow, and you don’t throw arrows. We know to ‘Whom’ we’re confessing and we know what we’re bringing to Him. So confession is specific and throws genuine projectiles.
• Walking around your room, just saying out loud I’m no good may have some value but it’s not confession.
Confession has the audience of God as its aim no matter what human is in earshot. (When you confess to someone there is a power there because in your heart you’re really getting right with God.) The only proper thing to cast to Him is the truth, what agrees with His Word. Anything else won’t do.
If God’s word says that what you’re doing or saying is wrong, confessing is what we normally think confession is about. We tell Him we’re wrong, in accordance with His Word. If His Word says that what we’ve been thinking or believing is not what God’s word teaches, we put that honestly before Him.
In the New Testament, we get a similar idea.
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Here’s the New Testament word for confess: “homologeo”. It simply means to say the same thing as another. What God says, you say; to heaven, to another believer, to another person, from the heart, freely, openly, humbly, with the implication that you are going to do differently than you have been doing.
Living the confessing life is the key to change.
How do we confess?
There are three aspects of a Biblical confession.
1. A mouth confession. I say with my mouth what is true, whether I’m sinning and I’m wrong or I’m believing a lie about God or His good will for my life. We say it to Him directly and we say it to another person, one or more. To confess is to be healed.
Some of you need to open your mouth, humble yourself and tell someone the truth. There is at least one safe, important person that you need to confess the truth to, maybe more. I’m an alcoholic. I’m thinking of cheating on my spouse. I’m not being honest at work and I’m cheating my company, or cheating on my exams and papers.
But in the same way, with our mouths we need to confess what God says about us and Himself in a good way. The devil has power only when he convinces us that something is true that’s really a lie.
Here are some common lies: God isn’t for someone like you; He won’t forgive that; if anybody knew, I would never be looked at the same anywhere; He doesn’t love you nor has good plans for you. Jesus blew apart wrong thinking about the nature of God. Yes, He is holy, perfect and perfectly righteous all the time, but He’s also merciful. The story of the Prodigal Son is a radical picture of how God the Father reacts to someone who lives the confessing life. His arms are open wide.
We also need to confess what we know He has called us to. God initiates things when we confess with our mouths
2. A Decision confession. When I see that my way is not God’s way, I come to a place of decision.
Early in our marriage, Robin and I looked one January at our income from the previous year and compared it to what we gave back to the Lord. We had just learned about tithing and giving God the first fruits and we weren’t. So we emptied a bunch of money out of our savings, which wasn’t very big, and we brought it to the Lord at the local storehouse, this local church, with a gulp. We made a decision that matched God’s Word. The result? We have never lacked. Six kids, Christian schools, our fridge always had enough and we are able to pay our bills. God has been faithful and it began with a decision confession.
3. An action confession. To agree with God and confess what He says results in actions that fit what you’re confessing. That confession is especially powerful in trials or the opposite, in situations where you aren’t being pressed to change anything. In trials if you act in agreement with God you don’t do what others think you’ll do, you smile, you’re at peace, you keep worshiping, keep praying. You don’t panic, yell and scream or hurt someone else.
To become aware of the truth of God and say you agree with it, but make no confession or line up your words, your decisions, or your actions with God, what do we call that? Hypocrisy. Jesus saved some of His harshest words for hypocrites because they knew the truth, talked like they agreed with the truth, but lived another way in heart and action. We should fear being that.
The confessing life is a life of consistent, positive change, punctuated with amazing breakthroughs.
You have been examining your life while I’ve been talking. And you may know that you need to put to God what you’ve been wrestling with, what you’ve been doing and what you’ve been saying. You need to make a decision to put your life in agreement with God, to say what He says, to make your life agree with His Word and Person.
Some of you have been laboring under a “my life is horrible” delusion or you’ve believed what your Dad or Mom said or your teacher said or your boss said that doesn’t line up with what God says. You’ll never amount to much, you’re this and you’re that. Confess that lie and embrace the truth. Some of you are living a life of captivity and depression and addictions and God wants to set you free today. “I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” Jeremiah 29:11.