WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
FEBRUARY 8, 2022
TOPIC: HOW SHOULD CHRISTIANS CONFESS THEIR SINS TO ONE ANOTHER?
BY T. O. BANSO
“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” (James 5:16 New King James Version).
The original audience of the book of James was the Jewish Christians living outside of Palestine whom he referred to as the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad (James 1:1). In Chapter 5, one of the things the apostle James, the half-brother of Jesus and one of the leaders of the church in Jerusalem, dealt with were prayer and sin.
He said in James 5:13-15, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven” (New King James Version).
In this passage, we do not only see how the prayer of faith can heal the sick, but we also see a connection between sickness and sin. It appears from the passage that some sicknesses could be caused by sin and once the sins are forgiven there would be healing. However, forgiveness will be a sequel to confession as shown in the next verse.
Verses 16 says, “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” (New King James Version). Many people understand confessing their sins to God and have no problem with it, but the same cannot be said of confessing their sins to others. If they have confessed their sins to God, must they confess to other people again? Who must they confess their sins to? What sins should they confess to others? Why? These are questions that many people ask.
The Bible tells us in James 5:16 about being honest and confessing our sins to one another. None of us is perfect and we should be able to humble ourselves and admit our sins to one another. Where a Christian has sinned against another person, he should not only confess to God, he should also confess to the person he has sinned against. Jesus said, “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24 New King James Version).
Confessing our sins to the person we have sinned against will help to achieve reconciliation. God wants us to live together in peace and harmony. And where confession has been made, God expects that we forgive and pray for the person. Ephesians 4:32 talks about forgiving one another among other things. If a brother confesses to you his sin against you, forgive him and pray for him. You also have your sins, so nothing makes you superior to him. Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another. This will heal the person who has sinned physically, if he is sick, and heal him spiritually too. It will also heal the relationship.
That’s why Jesus also dealt with how to help a brother who sins against you to confess his sins. “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17 New King James Version). If the brother confesses his sin, he will be forgiven and the relationship will be healed.
In Genesis 20:7, God told King Abimelech to restore to Abraham his wife, Sarah. He said Abraham was a prophet, and Abraham would pray for him and he would live. But if he didn’t restore her, he would surely die and all who belonged to him. Abimelech didn’t know that Sarah was Abraham’s wife so he had acted innocently.
Nevertheless, he went to Abraham with gifts and restored his wife to him. “So Abraham prayed to God; and God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his female servants. Then they bore children; for the LORD had closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife” (verses 17-18 New King James Version). Abimelech obeyed God, Abraham prayed for him, and he was forgiven. Abimelech made his way right with God and Abraham, not God alone. Therefore, Abimelech’s home was healed.
In Job 42:8, God told the friends of Job, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, “Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has” (New King James Version). They went to do as the LORD commanded them, for the LORD had accepted Job.
The prayer of the righteous avails much. Psalm 34:15 says the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. The LORD is far from the wicked but He hears the prayer of the righteous (Proverbs 15:29). 1 John 3:22 says whatever we ask, we receive from Him because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. The man who was born blind and Jesus healed in John 9 said, “Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him” (John 9:31 New King James Version).
If you have sinned against somebody, go and confess to him where you can still reach the person. God expects him to forgive you and pray for you. Confess your sins to God, too. If you cannot reach the person you have sinned against and ask for forgiveness, it doesn’t mean God will not forgive you. Ultimately, every sin is against, so confess to God. David says in Psalm 51:4a that against God only had he sinned.
The thief who repented on the cross didn’t have the opportunity to confess his sins to those he had sinned against, yet Jesus said he would be with Him in Paradise that day (Luke 23:39-43). 1 John 1:8-9 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (New King James Version).
To confess your sins to one another and pray for one another is not talking about going to a priest to confess your sins. It is not when you confess your sins to the priest or pastor that God will forgive you. It is not mandatory to confess to a servant of God. He is not a mediator between God and man. 1 Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (New King James Version).
But that does not mean that you cannot voluntarily confess a recurring sin to your pastor or a trusted and mature believer for accountability and prayer for victory, especially if your conscience is troubling you. This is not compulsory if you can deal with the issue yourself.
The scripture to confess your trespasses to one another does not mean that you go about confessing your sins to every church member or Christian you know. It is not saying that you should open your life to people to know the details of your struggles with sin. Such information will neither help them nor you. The goal of confession is not to ridicule anyone but to bring about healing and restoration.
Proverbs 28:13 says he who covers his sins will not prosper but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. The guiding principle for confessing your sins should be this: If your sin does not hurt anyone, such as a sinful thought, an inward rather than outward sin, confess to God alone. If you have sinned against a person, confess to him. If you’re struggling with a recurring sin and you need help and support for victory, confess to a trusted and mature believer who can pray with you and hold you accountable, not someone who will gossip about you. If you have sinned against the whole church or the whole church is affected by your sin, confess it to the whole church. Where a sin is known to the public, confess it publicly and where you have sinned privately against someone, confess your sin privately. Don’t confess publicly private sins and don’t confess privately public sins.
Nobody can attain sinless perfection on this earth. Paul says if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it (1 Corinthians 12:26). He also says in Galatians 6:1 that if a man is overtaken in any trespass, those who are spiritual should restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness, considering themselves lest they also should be tempted. Verse 2 adds that we should bear one another’s burdens or troubles, and so fulfill the law of Christ. We should confess our sins to one another, and pray for one another.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner, and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner, and I cannot save myself. I believe Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Holy Spirit, help all the children of God to walk in love and humility and confess our sins to one another and pray for one another. Help us to confess our sins secretly and publicly where necessary. More importantly, Father, we receive grace to live victoriously over sin. Sin shall not have dominion over us in Jesus’ name.
(For over 800 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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