with a heavy heart I ask

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INsearch

Puritan Board Freshman
I took a perusal of "true repentance" its one of those puritan books, and it mentioned 3 times he believes its proper to confess your sins to another person. Well this has me troubled, and sick to my stomach...am I correct in assuming that absolution and forgiveness of sins is for those who confess to the Father, yet the decrees in scripture to "confess to one another" are more there for healing? I'm sure i'm not the only one that has dark secret sins of ones past....I feel so troubled...I feel sick to my stomach.
 

INsearch

Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you...I suppose the fear, and presumption comes from the severity of my secret sin..that automatically pushes itself up to the front of the mind.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
its proper to confess your sins to another person

You won't get forgiveness by confessing your sins to another person, unless you have sinned against that other person. Even then you'll have to go to your Heavenly Father to be forgiven for any and all of your sins by Him.

I've tended to assume that the isolated injunction to "confess your sins to one another" was in order to get spiritual counsel as necessary from someone you could trust.
 

JonathanHunt

Puritan Board Senior
Yes, I would agree with Richard. To put it in context - I was reading a book recently on pastors who are addicted to p*rn - a very sad thing (and I'm not suggesting ANYTHING by using it as an example). And one of the most important pieces of advice was that in order to deal with and fight against this problem in a current context, one should 'confess' to someone who would hold you accountable and pray for you. That is how I too would understand the 'isolated injunction' of James 5.16.
 
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Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
The context of the confession of sins James mentions is so that we may pray for one another. This means it's more than just therapeutic or to get counsel. In our struggle against sin we are to enlist Christian brothers and sisters to pray for us. And such prayers, James says, are powerful and effective.

Such confession also brings glory to God. How could we bear to tell our sins to each other if we didn't already know that we were forgiven, accepted and made pure by the work of Christ? A community of believers that's honest about their sin—having no need for pretense or to keep up righteous appearances because all the righteousness they need is already theirs in Christ—is a strong witness to the grace of the Savior.
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
The question I would ask is: what do Protestant writers see as James' reason for advocating the practice?

Although the relevant passage in William Williams pamphlet, The Experience Meeting, written to guide the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists fellowship meetings of the 1740's does not mention the James verse, he alludes to the following benefits of the practice. ". . . these fellowship meetings give us an opportunity of bearing one another's burdens. How many of the godly are bearing heavy burdens . . . And what better way is there of lightening the burden . . . then to let them relate the account of thier crosses, their troubles and their tribulations to the people of God. For through this they will not merely get sympathy, but in addition they will have brethren to pray for them, to comfort them and to be kind to them, and to instruct htme how to ehave under burdens and tribulations and it gives great relief to every burdened man, when another comes under the yoke with him and takes on himself some of the burden." (p.15)
 

INsearch

Puritan Board Freshman
Oh man guys....you don't know how much of a burden feels lifted off of me! I am thankful for this community of biblicaly sound Christians :) Thank you so much for writing out the context of those scriptures...goes to show that my initial assumption was correct....I however have gone a little "dry" in my scripture studies, that I didn't put any weight on my interpretation...I can't say enough how relieved I am. Thank you all, and God Bless.
 

INsearch

Puritan Board Freshman
unless you have sinned against that other person

Forgive me for my paranoid obsessive questions...but by this you mean person personal forgiveness right? which absolution from the Father is not dependent on correct? man I don't know why I'm asking this...nothing is dependent on the Father forgiving me other than that I confess my sins, and repent! why am I placing so much emphasis on needing to do some kinda work for forgiveness....must be from my small relapse when I was attempting to convert to Eastern Orthodoxy. :/
 

JennyG

Puritan Board Graduate
I'm another sinner who still has trouble being haunted by the things I did before I was converted. Reading this thread has been cheering :)
Thank you Jonathan and all of you (and Joshua for starting it)
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
Forgive me for my paranoid obsessive questions...but by this you mean person personal forgiveness right? which absolution from the Father is not dependent on correct? man I don't know why I'm asking this...nothing is dependent on the Father forgiving me other than that I confess my sins, and repent! why am I placing so much emphasis on needing to do some kinda work for forgiveness....must be from my small relapse when I was attempting to convert to Eastern Orthodoxy. :/

Your eternal forgiveness is once for all. It is based on Christ taking the punishment for your sin, which you received by faith. Once this has happened, it is done. No more fretting over whether or not you're eternally forgiven for anything, ever.

But this is not all God gives you in Christ. He also gives you a relationship as a son, with himself as your heavenly Father. And because you're in relationship with your Father, there's ongoing confession and asking and receiving forgiveness that happens as a part of the relationship, as there would be if you wronged anyone in any relationship. This sort of ongoing forgiveness is one of the sweet aspects of life with God. It strengthens your faith and continually draws you back to him, causing you to recall again and again your once-for-all forgiveness in Christ, knowing that the Father will surely forgive you when you ask.

What if you fail to confess a sin? Well, we all do that all the time. But it doesn't put your salvation in jeopardy. You're God's child, and your forgiveness has been taken care of at the cross, again, once for all. It does, however, mean you have missed an opportunity to draw closer to your Father by asking and feeling his forgiveness anew.

This is why we should keep confessing our sins to God. Confessing to others when we've wronged them is also a part of healthy relationships with others. And confessing generally to other beleivers is helpful too for reasons already mentioned here. In fact, a person who resists ongoing confession at all is hardly acting like a child of God, and we might in fact doubt whether or not he is truly saved.

So keep confessing, but please don't do it out of fear that your once-for-all forgiveness in Christ is in jeopardy.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
unless you have sinned against that other person

Forgive me for my paranoid obsessive questions...but by this you mean person personal forgiveness right? which absolution from the Father is not dependent on correct? man I don't know why I'm asking this...nothing is dependent on the Father forgiving me other than that I confess my sins, and repent! why am I placing so much emphasis on needing to do some kinda work for forgiveness....must be from my small relapse when I was attempting to convert to Eastern Orthodoxy. :/

I think Jack's probably answered this but the important thing with sin is to be right with God through faith in the righteousness and blood of Jesus Christ.

Some of our sins are not just against God but also against our fellow human beings.

The Bible teaches that where possible and appropriate Christian people should resolve or make amends for such situations. E.g. Zacchaeus paid back four times the amount he had defrauded people.

And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold." (Luke 19:8, ESV)

Our eternal salvation isn't dependent on resolving these personal situations perfectly. Nothing we do is sinless, and if we have exercised faith in Christ we are justified freely by God's grace on the basis of Christ's perfect life and death, and are ready for Heaven.

But an unforgiving attitude to another person - whether a brother or not - can lead to a felt withdrawal of the Spirit's presence and is bad for our spiritual lives and an unforgiving spirit hinders our prayers and fellowship with God. Christians should seek to cultivate forgiveness and an unbegrudging spirit as part of their sanctification, especially when they remember how God has forgiven them.

E.g.

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matt 5:23-24)

And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses."(Matt 11:25, ESV)

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.(II Cor 13:11)

It's hypocritical for the true Christian to accept forgiveness from God and yet not seek to forgive things that others do to him, by God's grace. Of course this forgiveness will be imperfect - and extremely difficult sometimes even for someone with grace - but as we try by God's grace we reveal the fact that we have been forgiven by God.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
Joshua, anyone who first came to know Christ as an adult, or a Christian who has ever seriously lapsed in his faith, is likely to have deeds they don't want anyone else to know about. You're not alone. I do think it's extremely healthy that you are sensitive to the "sinfulness" of that sin, and that you are concerned about how to best handle the situation within the body of believers.

Much of the power of unconfessed sin is the worry that someone will find out or think less of you. I have discovered that confession takes a major worry off of me -- the truth is out there. If you are talking with a mature believer, he's likely to have dealt with his own "major" sins and would not, or should not, be judgmental. I'm not saying that there is anything that binds you to confess that sin to anyone but God, but I am saying you could find spiritual benefit in doing so.

This is not to mean you should grab the first believer you see and let it all out -- the closeness of your relationship to that person, their maturity, and whether or not the confession could actually hurt him (a critical consideration within marriage) should determine who you would confess to. And as others have shown, the benefit of knowing that someone is praying for you, especially if the sin remains a temptation to you, can far out way the benefit of saving face.
 

INsearch

Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you guys for further spelling it out to me, it makes me feel very relieved, God bless you all!!
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
unless you have sinned against that other person

Forgive me for my paranoid obsessive questions...but by this you mean person personal forgiveness right? which absolution from the Father is not dependent on correct? man I don't know why I'm asking this...nothing is dependent on the Father forgiving me other than that I confess my sins, and repent! why am I placing so much emphasis on needing to do some kinda work for forgiveness....must be from my small relapse when I was attempting to convert to Eastern Orthodoxy. :/

I can tell you the reason why you are asking this: we all have an inner Pharisee within us that wants to steal just a sliver of glory from God, whether it be by making forgiveness dependent on our work, or simply by redefining faith to include faithfulness, or by some other means. The problem is that the moment we try to steal that sliver of glory from God is the very moment the law jumps in to condemn us for trying to do it. And that is the source of the heaviness and guilt that you have been experiencing. But then, that heaviness tries to hang on even after you have confessed your sin to God and repented, because it is trying to whisper (and this is straight from Satan) that Jesus' blood really isn't enough to take ALL the guilt of your sin away. It tries to tell you that you still have something left to do. This whisper is Satan twisting the law. It is not the law itself speaking. After all, He has hushed the law's loud thunder, and He has quenched Mount Sinai's flame. Immerse yourself (pun intended) in the efficacy of the blood of Christ. Remember how powerful it is.
 
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INsearch

Puritan Board Freshman
Indeed, very powerful Pastor K. Thank you very much for pointing out that, it is the whispers of Satan that are trying to say I must do something else other than confessing to Christ my sins and repenting in order to be forgiven. I'm known for being scrupulous, so I'm sure it will be a little while before I am able to completely destroy this false burden. Pray for me friends.
 

InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
Indeed, very powerful Pastor K. Thank you very much for pointing out that, it is the whispers of Satan that are trying to say I must do something else other than confessing to Christ my sins and repenting in order to be forgiven. I'm known for being scrupulous, so I'm sure it will be a little while before I am able to completely destroy this false burden. Pray for me friends.

:pray2:
 

INsearch

Puritan Board Freshman
Indeed. It seems that a lot of my fear also came from the idea that I first must confess my sins to others, before Christ will forgive me...thats a completely works based assumption and is so wrong...I'm still struggling to pick myself up and walk away from all this...Satan sure tried to cripple me..and he did a good job for about a week.
 

FCC

Puritan Board Freshman
"For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight." I John 3:20-22

We all struggle with sins, both past and present. While we are dealing with these sins we must remember that God's mercy and grace and ability to deliver us from the bondage of sin is far greater than anything we know! His strength is without bounds, His love is never failing and His longsuffering with us is endless. He knows our hearts far better than we do and He is able to forgive us. Sometimes the heavy burden of our past sins affects our ability to grasp these concepts and thus John wrote the above verses to remind us. God is greater than our heart! He tells us to cast all our burdens upon His Son and He will carry them for us! What a great blessing this is.

The sins of our past do damage us, make no mistake about that. We carry the scars and injuries with us for the rest of our earthly life and sometimes these threaten to overwhelm us, but it is preciously then that we must look to Christ! He died so that we could live and live more abundantly! Dear brother, look to Christ our Great Physician for He is able to heal you and to take the sins of your past unto Himself.

I will be praying for you.
 

INsearch

Puritan Board Freshman
thank you very much David. I know I keep rambling on, and on, but it helps for me to sometimes identify my problems and spell them out. I noticed last night that I have been treating it like some sort of pennince (sp?) a good part of why I was despairing was that God would withhold forgiveness from me until I first confessed my sins to others...in which THEN He would forgive me....Satan sure planted a lot of false assumptions, and fear into my life this week....laaaame.
 

torstar

Puritan Board Sophomore
I wouldn't completely write off the need to confess.

There are egregious sins committed that may require the intervention of the clergy (and the legal authorities) for confession and restitution.

That doesn't appear to be the case here, but sometimes the mechanism is required.
 

INsearch

Puritan Board Freshman
Yes, some things are better confessed, but its still not needed to be forgiven by the father. I may have committed and illegal act when I was 12 or 13...and not a day goes by that I don't think about it, but Thank God in his mercy...in his amazing grace that I need to only confess to him to have those sins blotted out. (right?)
 
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Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
Yes, some things are better confessed, but its still not needed to be forgiven by the father. I may have committed and illegal act when I was 12 or 13...and not a day goes by that I don't think about it, but Thank God in his mercy...in his amazing grace that I need to only confess to him to have those sins blotted out. (right?)

Is it a case where restitution ought to be made, or where your confession might bring healing to someone who was wronged? If so, it may be that you ought to confess the sin, seek forgiveness from another, make resititution, etc. But NOT in order to be forgiven by God, which is already taken care of. Rather, you would do such things out of a desire for justice and a concern for your fellow man.

And if it is NOT such a case, there's no more for you to do but to rest in your Father's forgiveness and to go and sin no more. By the way, those two are connected in Scripture. The more deeply you acknowledge God's sure forgiveness, the more you will praise your Savior and the more delighted you will be going forward to live in ways that honor him.
 

INsearch

Puritan Board Freshman
Is it a case where restitution ought to be made, or where your confession might bring healing to someone who was wronged?

There can be no restitution made for what I had done, and being that i don't think they know about it...(based on how the act around me ect) then I believe confessing to them would cause heart ache...it would open a wound that i believe hasn't formed.

Thank you for your answer though. You specifically helped answer my question, because yes I understand that we are implored to confess to man our sins...but I was hoping for someone to address that we don't do such in order for the Father to forgive us..but rather for healing ect......Thank you Jack, you have really helped. Same goes to everyone else. I feel at peace now..not as depressed.
 

dudley

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
its proper to confess your sins to another person

You won't get forgiveness by confessing your sins to another person, unless you have sinned against that other person. Even then you'll have to go to your Heavenly Father to be forgiven for any and all of your sins by Him.

I've tended to assume that the isolated injunction to "confess your sins to one another" was in order to get spiritual counsel as necessary from someone you could trust.

I agree with Richard and I also say as an ex Roman catholic I left the catholic church in 2006 but I stopped going to confession about 1980. I found very littke value in confessing to another man..and my penance was always to say some prayers or a rosary.....When I needed advice I talked to other good christian..but I believe we confess our sins directly to the Father in heaven and only He forgives and forgets no man has that power..that is one of the false teachings of Roman catholicism...which again is a mis interpretation of the scriptures...
 
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