Our church is talking about spiritual preparation and maturity. Last week we talked about repentance. Repentance is defined as “changing your mind about something”. If we desire to turn away from sin and turn towards God, then we must first change our mind about our sin and how we relate to God.
Today we want to talk about what comes next – Confession. After we change our mind about our sin by seeing it differently (as caustic and self-destructive as it really is) and how our relationship with God suffers from our present sin, the next step is to confess our sin. Of course, the first time we repent, confessing our sin to God, asking for forgiveness, and believing that Jesus died in our place, God responds by saving us (Rom 10:9). We are justified by our faith in Christ alone through confession.
But again, is that it? Is that all that’s required is to confess our sins once? Not at all. Not if we want to become spiritually mature. The first point of the 95-theses that Martin Luther nailed to the door of Wittenburg Castle church was as follows:
When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.Martin Luther
The life of a true believer is marked by continual repentance and confession. The Bible teaches that when we are saved, we are a “babe in Christ”. As we grow and mature spiritually, we become as children, then young men, and eventually referred to as mature or old men of faith. We grow and mature as we study and pray. God’s Word was given to us to make us mature (2 Tim 3:16-17). The intent of a Christian life is to never stop growing or maturing. In fact, if we’re not growing and maturing, then we are in a very bad and sorry place. We are in urgent need to repent and confess.
The need to confess is because sin is always present throughout our life. We never stop fighting sin. Even if/when we overcome sins that are common to our youth, the temptation to sin never stops, it only changes as we grow older. We may decrease in our sinning, but there is never an absence of sin, therefore we must always be repenting and confessing. We desperately need God’s Word to continually reveal where we’re disobedient (especially in ways we never considered before), help change our mind about it, and confess it to the Lord.
By doing this we’re doing more than just growing and maturing. 2 Corinthians 3:18 gives us a whole different and encouraging picture of our maturing.
18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.2 Cor 3:18
We are being transformed (maturing) into the image of Christ from one degree of glory to another. Do you see the picture here? As we submit to God’s Word in repenting and confessing, we are increasing in one degree of glory to another. Our maturing gives God glory for it is He that is working in us! And we get to experience His glory working through us! What a positive
visual! This comes about as we confess our sin.
The question for each of us is – is there something we need to confess? Surely there is. But maybe it would be helpful to look at it in this light – how much of God’s glory are you experiencing in your life? When is the last time you passed “from one degree of glory to another” as you made a big change towards God in your life? Do you have a fervent love for Christ and are filled with His glory? Or have you disengaged with God and become complacent in your walk with Christ? The glory of God shines very dimly in your life.
What about the local church? Is there something that a local church body might need to confess? We don’t often hear about corporate confession in a church. I wonder why that is? If the church is the collective sum of its Christian members who are struggling with sin, then the local church
is obviously affected by the sins its members have in common. It must affect the church’s offering of worship and the mission of the church. I wonder if our fear is because many pastors are afraid of what their members might think if we called out sins that might be considered individual or private, but that we all have in common as a church. Or they’re afraid of not putting on a good face for the community who might think of us as hypocrites.
Last week, we looked at our Lord’s letters to the seven churches in Revelation chapters 2 & 3. Jesus called on five of those churches to repent. Confession is the first step following repentance (after changing your mind about sin). How can a church ignore the call of the Lord to confess as a corporate body? They can’t. We can’t. To ignore corporate confession leads to nothing but a superficial congregation who doesn’t take sin seriously. There’s no increasing from one degree of glory to another for a church like that. There’s nothing sanctifying, only dead works. I encourage you to consider how often you confess to the Lord and are experiencing passing from one degree of glory to another. I encourage our church members to take a step in love, humility, and transparency, where corporate sins are shared and confessed. God is greatly glorified by a church who thrives by confessing its sins.