Confession & Forgiveness
The Bible tells us Satan is a deceiver and a liar. He is, in fact, the ‘father of lies’. He lied to and deceived Adam and Eve, and he has been lying to, and successfully deceiving, all the people of the world ever since.
There are without a doubt vastly more people in the world today who believe Satan’s lies than do God’s truth. One of the ways Satan deceives us is by blinding our eyes to the truth of the Word of God. Those who are in this condition can even read the Bible and casually pass over the most profound truths. For example, the Bible is filled with covenant references and stories, yet most people who read the Bible from cover to cover usually miss the truth of the necessity of entering into a blood covenant relationship with Jesus Christ. In a similar way, many know about confession and forgiveness, but few practice it diligently.
Practicing your faith by walking the walk of sanctification in obedience to the Holy Spirit is not an option. Confession of our sins and forgiveness of transgressions committed against us is also required and equally important. The following are true statements.
- The covenant with Jesus Christ is entered into by repentance.
- The walk of sanctification is the way we keep the covenant we’ve entered.
- Confession and forgiveness are the ways we continue and grow in the sanctification we’ve gained.
Confession and forgiveness are necessary for three reasons:
- Confession and forgiveness are integral characteristics of covenant. Anyone who loves someone to such a great degree they choose to make a blood covenant with that person would not hold any of their past sins against them. They would forgive all. Their covenant partner would do the same for them. Jesus forgives the sin of all who repent because of His great love for them. Therefore, all who repent and enter into covenant with Jesus Christ should also forgive in the same manner. Of course, Jesus has no sin to forgive. However, believers are to forgive others because Jesus died that their own sin could also be forgiven, and our behavior is to be just like His.
- We must confess and forgive because we will all fall short even though we desire with all our heart not to do so. Paul reports of facing just that dilemma.
- Finally, we are simply commanded in the Scriptures to confess and forgive.
Forgiveness of sin is integrally linked to entering and keeping covenant. Jesus, in one of His post-crucifixion appearances to the disciples, declared that forgiveness of sin was linked to repentance.
45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,
46 and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day,
47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name [that is, through a covenant relationship] to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:45-47)
Luke, the writer of Acts, and Paul, author of Romans and Ephesians, concur.
“Of Him [Jesus] all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him [makes covenant with Him] receives forgiveness of sins.” (Acts 10:43)
“Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him [by His covenant sacrifice of all on the cross] forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.” (Acts 13:38)
“Blessed are those [the blessings go to the one in covenant with Jesus] whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered.” (Romans 4:7)
In Him [in covenant with Jesus] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.(Ephesians 1:7)
Jesus Christ sacrificed ALL to complete the covenant between God and Abraham, thereby bringing everyone who would do likewise, i.e., join Jesus on the cross by sacrificing all, into the same covenant. And to all those who choose to cut this covenant with Jesus, He gives forgiveness of their sins against Him.
Jesus forgives because of His great love for us, and because it is required by the mandate of the blood covenant. He is willing to forgive us of a multitude of sins when even the slightest of them is worthy of death. We were sinners from before birth because we are all descendants of Adam and Eve who made covenant with Satan in the Garden of Eden. David said in Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.” Yet, Jesus forgives us when we repent and come into covenant with Him. It is in the heart of Jesus to forgive all. How can our heart, after we repent, be any less forgiving? Forgiveness is the covenant way.
Forgiving And Confessing Are Commanded
We are commanded to forgive others. It is not an option for a covenant person.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32)
And there is a consequence for unforgiveness. Jesus said:
14 “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
15 But if you [who has repented and entered into covenant with Jesus] do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
When a person repents they are redeemed and forgiven. However, being born again does not mean you live in a sin-free zone. The apostle John wrote:
If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8)
If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him [Jesus] a liar and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:10)
We can also conclude from Jesus’ statement in Matthew 6:15 that believers do in fact sin. If that were not so, why did He tell us our Father in heaven will not forgive our sins? Committing sin is an inevitable consequence of living life as a born again believer whose rejuvenated spirit resides in a house of flesh.
While we are to forgive those who sin against us, we are to confess our own sin. Any thought embraced, word spoken or behavior carried out that is contrary to God’s Law is a sin. Any such sin left unconfessed once again gives place (authority) to Satan to exercise influence in the life of a believer. Even unforgiveness must be confessed. In the passage below we see that unconfessed sin, and unforgiveness of others, leads to a satanic stronghold called the root of bitterness.
14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.
15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God [by allowing sin to remain]; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled [the result is to become like Esau];
16 that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.
17 For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears. (Hebrews 12:14-17)
Being sorry is not confession. Esau found no place for repentance because he did not confess his sin in a sincere effort to receive God’s forgiveness.
The way to remain in covenant (living in a repentant state, walking in sanctification and experiencing the grace of God in your life) is to let no sin remain in your life. In this way you will give no place for Satan to re-establish a stronghold in your life.
Confession of sin is a command of both the Old and New Covenants.
‘Or if a person swears thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good, in whatever matter a man may speak thoughtlessly with an oath, and it is hidden from him, and then he comes to know it, he will be guilty in one of these. So it shall be when he becomes guilty in one of these, that he shall confess that in which he has sinned.’ (Leviticus 5:4-6)
“Now therefore, make confession to the Lord God of your fathers and do His will; and separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.” (Ezra 10:11)
Then Jerusalem was going out to him [John the Baptist], and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins. (Matthew 3:5-6)
Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. (James 5:16)
Then there is this promise:
If we confess our sins, He [Jesus Christ] is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
If you are in covenant with Jesus Christ your sins will be forgiven, without exception, if you confess them.
Why are we commanded to forgive the wrongs of others committed against us and to confess our own sin? Is it just a way for an all-powerful God to make us do something unpleasant? Not hardly! God knows what the consequence is for us, and He wants us to be free from the condemnation of sin. That is the whole reason Jesus suffered and died on a cross. God also knows that our worries and anxieties, cares and woes, and sicknesses and diseases, all come through the Satanic strongholds we allow to be re-established in our life. James 5:16 quoted above says we will be healed if we confess our sins and pray for one another.
There Is Hope
The idea that you are to keep ALL of the commandments is clearly an impossibility. Only one person has ever done it. I am speaking of course of Jesus Christ, and He is the only person who ever will. “What hope is there for me,” you may rightly ask? You have no hope at all EXCEPT for confession and forgiveness. Let me say that another way. You have no hope of walking perfectly in sanctification, and thereby keeping the covenant you made with Jesus were it not for confession of sin and forgiveness of transgressions against you. David, the psalmist, learned about the power of confession.
1 How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered!
2 How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit!
3 When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah.
5 I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah. (Psalm 32:1-10)
The one whose transgression is forgiven is blessed. Since blessings are a covenant reward for obedience, the one who is blessed is the one who is in covenant with the Lord. David learned that unless he confessed his sin there would be no forgiveness. He also learned that life was not pleasant while he was concealing his sin from God.
Confession of sin is part of the covenant. That means God knew there would have to be a provision to counteract our certain unintentional failures. If you desire to be a covenant keeper, you simply must develop a lifestyle of confessing sin and forgiving transgressions.
The inevitability of sinning by repentant believers has led many to adopt the idea that sinning is an acceptable activity for believers. The rationale goes something like this: You know you’re going to sin, God knows you’re going to sin, so don’t be surprised by it and don’t feel guilty because of it. Just accept sinning as a normal part of being a believer. In time, you’ll mature in your faith, and little by little some of your pet sins will disappear. In other words, you can continue to live a carnal life and still be a believer. That may sound like an appealing idea except for one thing … it isn’t Biblical. We are not to commit intentional sin after we are born again. The reason we can say this is that immediately following repentance, we receive a new, righteous nature in place of the old sinful one. For a repentant believer to intentionally sin is to perform an act that is counter to their new, righteous nature. Paul dispels the idea that believers are to continue in sin (intentionally) in the sixth chapter of his letter to the Romans.
1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?
2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:1-2)
Paul continues by describing the completeness of a believer’s covenant-making death.
3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into [made covenant with] Christ Jesus have been baptized [initiated or brought into] into His death?
4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death [that means we have entered into blood covenant with Him], so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. [The old life was that of a sinful nature, the new life is a life lived from a sinless nature.]
5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,
6 knowing this, that our old self [the sinful nature] was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin. (Romans 6:3-6)
Clearly, the plan is that believers should not sin. And more than that, believers are not to be sinners. That is, the whole desire of their heart is not to sin. Sin no longer reigns in the heart of a believer. Paul continues:
7 For he who has died is freed from sin.
8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, [death and new life are features of blood covenant]
9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again [the new life of the blood covenant is eternal]; death no longer is master over Him.
10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
11 Even so [in the same way] consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:7-11)
In covenant parlance, verse 7 says that the one who has died the covenant-making death to join Jesus in blood covenant is no longer bound by sin and its consequence, eternal spiritual death. Verse 11 tells us that you are to recognize that as a fact, and actually believe that you are no longer bound by a sinful nature (the old man), i.e., you are no longer a sinner. Paul concludes that you should not allow yourself to continue to act as if you hadn’t been completely changed.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,
13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness [quit allowing yourself to act the way you used to]; but [walk in sanctification] present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead [remember, a covenant-making death leads to a new life], and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. (Romans 6:12-13)
And if sin does not reign in your body, it shall not be your master.
14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! (Romans 6:14-15)
The idea that a covenant believer is to be the master over sin is not a New Covenant idea that Paul developed. It was first spoken by God to Cain after he had murdered his brother. “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” (Genesis 4:7)
Know this: If you have repented, you have become a new creature. You have crucified the flesh and died with Christ. Your old sin nature has been buried with Christ and it no longer reigns within you. That is, unless you let it.
Know this also: Even though you try with all your might, you are going to occasionally fall short … you’re going to sin. The Good News is that unintended sin does not release you from the covenant. Also, there is a way for you to return to the fulness of blessing found in the covenant. That way is confession of your sin and forgiveness of transgressions.
The apostle Paul was confronted with this very dilemma of not acting like the new creation he became on the road to Damascus.
14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.
15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. [He is speaking of unintentional sin.]
16 But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. [The sin is unintentional since he does not want to do it. Therefore …]
17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
[This pretty much sums it up. Paul seems not to be able to keep from sinning. Please note that his sins are not intended, and they are not agreeable to him. On the basis of these two things he concludes that there is something at work that takes him by surprise.]
18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.
20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.
22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,
[His whole heart and soul agrees with the Law of God.]
23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.
24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:14-25)
I hope you see how easily the failure to do what you desire by obeying the Law can become a stumbling block without confession and forgiveness. We should thank God for giving us the provision of confession and forgiveness. Then we should actually take advantage of His provision by confessing our sins and forgiving those who wrong us.
We conclude our discussion on Keeping The Eternal Covenant with the next article, A Walk Through Life.