Imagine hearing a sermon like this: “Marriage is wonderful. Marriage is a gift from God. God wants everyone to enjoy the gift of marriage. If you give Him just $50 today, God is so faithful that He will release upon you the blessed state of marriage.” How would you respond to that invitation? If you were a desperate single, you might reach for your wallet! But if you were married you would be a fool to pay. You would say, “I’m already married! Why should I pay for a gift I’m already enjoying?”
Now substitute the word “marriage” for “forgiveness,” and “$50” for “confess-your-sins,” and you have the standard sermon on confession. “Forgiveness is wonderful. Forgiveness is a gift from God. God is so faithful that whenever we confess our sins, He will forgive us and restore our fellowship with Him.” It sounds good but it’s not. Yes, forgiveness is wonderful and God is faithful. But you cannot put a price tag on the free gift of forgiveness. Don’t let anyone charge you for what God has already given you.
We were forgiven at the cross by the blood of Jesus. Jesus did not die merely to secure our forgiveness – salvation is so much more than that – but forgiveness is the gift that unlocks all the other gifts. The Bible tells us that those who are uncertain about their forgiveness remain weak and unproductive. You might be confused about confession if you think it’s the Holy Spirit who is convicting you of your sins. So far in this study, we have looked at eight reasons why Christians never need to confess-to-be-forgiven. Today we will pull out the big guns and hopefully do away for good the diabolical lie that says Christians must confess-to-be-forgiven. Here are the final four reasons to be thankful for God’s gift of forgiveness.
9. Confessing-to-be-forgiven puts us under law
For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. (Rms 6:14)
Would you sing a hymn like this: “Your sacrifice is not good enough to do away with sin, Your blood was not sufficient to redeem me, You will not finish what you started, But with my help we can save me. We are co-Saviors.” Of course no believer would ever sing such nonsense! Yet that is exactly what we’re saying if we think we must confess-to-be-forgiven.
Living under law means more than keeping the 10 commandments. It means living by the power of the flesh in the vain hope of earning what God has freely given us. At the cross God cancelled the law that stood against us (Col 2:14) and without the law there is no transgression (Rms 4:15). All who rely on the law are under a curse (Gal 3:10), but because of Jesus we are now the “blessed man” whose sins God is no longer imputing (Rms 4:8). Jesus went to the cross so that you can live under the grace of God. If you who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb still think that you must confess-to-be-forgiven, then you are setting aside grace and cursing what God has blessed.
10. Confessing-to-be-forgiven empowers sin and leads to death
…the strength of sin is the law. (1 Co 15:56)
If you live under the self-imposed law that says, “I must confess-to-be-forgiven,” then sin will have dominion over you (Rms 6:14). Rather than dealing with sin, this sort of confession actually makes things worse for it strengthens sin making it harder to resist the next time. Guess what happens when you follow this path to its logical conclusion? Romans 7:5 says that when we combine our fleshly performance with the law, sinful passions are aroused that work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. Confessing-to-be-forgiven, like any law-based ministry, ultimately brings death (2 Co 3:7).
We are called to live by faith in the Son of God who gave Himself for us (Gal 2:20). Our choice is simple: we can trust God that His work on the cross was sufficient, or we can trust the work of our flesh. When you sin it takes faith to look at the cross, listen to the Holy Spirit, and confess “I messed up, but because of Jesus I am still righteous! I am still forgiven!” It takes absolutely no faith to feel unrighteous and unforgiven. It takes faith to trust that God’s grace is greater than your sin; to trust that His grace will empower you to say no to ungodliness so you can go and sin no more (Tit 2:12). It takes no faith to believe you must make things right, perhaps through confession. Whatever is not of faith is sin (Rm 14:23). Call it for what it is: confessing-to-be-forgiven is the sin of unbelief in the goodness and grace of God.
11. Confessing-to-be-forgiven keeps us from God
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus… let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience… (Heb 10:19,22)
Another argument which is sometimes used to justify confession is that it restores our fellowship with God. Confessing our faults is certainly a good idea when we sin against each other (Jas 5:16). But don’t make the mistake of relating to God on human terms. God does not love us with human love. He doesn’t love us because we are lovable and open about our mistakes. He loves us because it’s in His nature to love us. He is love (1 Jn 4:16). Let’s not fool ourselves – even the best of us is wholly unworthy, wholly undeserving of His love. The good news is that He loves us anyway.
When you sin you may feel like you are distant from God even though He has promised to never leave nor forsake us (Heb 13:5). You messed up so you may feel like you need to do something to restore your relationship. But confessing-sins-to-get-rid-of-a-bad-feeling is to walk in the flesh; it is not the way of faith. It’s never a good idea to interpret your relationship with God through the filter of your feelings. Feelings should always follow facts and faith.
The facts of the matter are this: we had a debt we could not pay and Jesus paid it in full with His blood. All of our sins have been forgiven and we are now debt-free. The proper response in light of these facts is joy (Is 12:3). Faith looks at the cross and the empty tomb and shouts, “thank you Jesus!” If you are feeling bad because of a guilty conscience, you have misplaced your faith. You need to review the facts. According to Hebrews 10:22, the blood of Jesus is the best remedy for dealing with a guilty conscience. So instead of confessing your sins and reminding yourself of how unholy you are, confess the blood of Jesus that sanctifies you (Heb 9:13-14). Then draw near to God with the full assurance that faith brings.
12. We’re called to be Christ-conscious, not sin-conscious
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (Jn 17:3)
Confessing-to-be-forgiven distracts us from the purpose of life which is to know and enjoy God our Father and Jesus Christ whom He sent. Confession tends to make us introspective and gloomy. When you look at all you’ve done wrong, how could you not get depressed? Our heavenly Father doesn’t want us to live like that. God didn’t send His Son to make us self-aware but Christ-aware. We don’t need healthy self-esteem, but life-giving Christ-esteem. The law makes us conscious of sin, but we are to be conscious of Christ our righteousness (Rm 3:20-22).
Every minute you spend dwelling on your sin is a minute wasted. You could’ve spent that time praising God for His mighty works! Instead of testifying of your badness, praise Him for His goodness. Instead of examining your unworthiness, celebrate His worth! Jesus died to make unworthy men worthy. If you were worthy, He would never have died for you. But you weren’t and He did and now you are! Glory to God!
If this is not practical enough for you, let me finish with Matthew 6:33. When you seek His kingdom and His righteousness first, all your unrighteous hang-ups will get taken care of. Make Jesus your focus. Hebrews 10:2 says that we’re not supposed to be conscious of our sins. How can we confess something we’re not conscious of? As a man thinks, so he is (Pro 23:7). If you think of yourself as a reformed sinner saved by grace, you’ll never be anything more than just a sinner. It’s smart for sinners to confess their sins (1 Jn 1:9), when confession means agreeing with God about our need for a Savior. But when a Christian confesses-to-be-forgiven, he’s acting like a sinner. He has become an unbelieving believer, a living contradiction. He’s like a married person who still acts as if he’s single. See yourself as God sees you. God calls you a son (Gal 4:6). Confess what you are, not what you were. Confess your sonship not your sinnership.
God’s great gift of forgiveness
Knowing that you have been forgiven by the grace of God is just about the best thing in the world! Forgiveness is a great gift and worth protecting; don’t let anyone take it from you. Don’t let anyone charge you for what Jesus has already paid for.
Nowhere in the New Testament do you find believers confessing their sins to be forgiven. Confessing-to-be-forgiven is an extra-Biblical church tradition. It is one of those things that seems right to man, but in the end it leads to death (Pro 14:12). It is a work of the flesh that kills faith, nullifies grace, and treats as unholy the blood of the covenant that sanctifies us.
In this study we have reviewed 12 reasons why those who have been born again never need to confess-to-be-forgiven. You don’t have to do something you’ve already done to gain something you already have.
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