Confession is an ongoing part of the Christian life. In 1 John 1:8-9, the apostle said this: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. [BUT] If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
It’s important to note that he was writing those words to Christians, because there are some who teach you never need to confess sin once you become a believer. Confession is a powerful part of walking in close fellowship with God. By confessing sin, we remove the barriers it creates between us and Him. When we fail to confess our sins, however, we separate ourselves from God and are vulnerable to the wiles of the devil.
Sin opens the door to the enemy and his evil schemes – but he can’t touch us when we dwell in the presence of God. Psalm 91 says, “He who dwell (live in) the secret place of the Most High shall abide under His shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” That’s awesome: When we walk close to God, the devil can’t touch us! However, the promises of Psalm 91 are not automatic. We have to do our part by actively choosing where we will live. If we want to live under the shadow of the Almighty, we need to pursue a pure heart.
God tells us in His Word that if we intentionally hold on to sin, He will not hear us. (Psalm 66:18) The Apostle John then wrote these words in I John 3:9: “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.” I remember reading that verse when I was a new believer and I thought, I’m in trouble. I knew that I had been born again, but I also knew that I sinned from time to time. So, I had to dig into that verse to better understand what John was actually saying. He was not talking about occasional sin, but rather a lifestyle of sin. If we continue to live in sin, as a way of life, the truth is not in us – and neither is God.
Today, a lot of people profess to be Christians, and yet continue to live in sin. Either they are deceived about what it means to be a Christian, or they are ignorant of God’s Word. However, according to John’s statement, a person who is born of God cannot continue in sin. Why? Because the Holy Spirit is now living in that person and He (the Holy Spirit) will convict them,. In other words, God will not allow us to live in sin if we truly belong to Him. He loves us too much to allow us to live in a pigsty! Besides, what fellowship has light with darkness? None, of course. Next time you go into a dark room and flip on the switch, see what happens to the darkness. It will flee! When the light of God comes into our life, darkness has to leave. That is what John was talking about. We cannot continue to allow darkness in our life, and at the same time, walk with God.
God hates sin. He loves the sinner, but He hates sin, because it brings death. Separation from Him, and death to our mortal beings. Sin has contaminated the world and has brought all manner of sickness and disease. When we live in sin, we expose ourselves to everything that has polluted our world. We forfeit that invisible barrier of protection that God provides when we dwell in His Presence. Instead of walking under His shadow, we become susceptible to the wages of sin. But even when that happens, God has promised a way out. Here is that verse again in I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Is that an awesome provision – or what!? Not only does God forgive our sins, but He also cleanses us from all unrighteousness. Confession works like a great big eraser that cleans the slate of our life. Not only does He remove our sin as far as the east from the west, but He removes the effects of sin…the sting of death.
Ultimately, to stay in the shadow of the Almighty, we need to pray one of my favorite prayers in the Bible, straight from the heart of King David: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Palm 139:23-24) This is actually a prayer of invitation – inviting God to search our hearts for anything that is displeasing to Him. If we pray that prayer with a sincere heart, God will indeed reveal our wicked ways to us. Then, if we confess what He reveals as sin, He will forgive us and cleanse us from the iniquity in our hearts. Now, that’s the power of confession!