In the first post on becoming a useful vessel, I identified six things we need (minimum) to be a useful vessel for the Master. In the last post, I address the point that we must be discipled. In today’s post, I will expand on the fourth of those: We must be confessing and repentant of sin in our lives.
This should go without saying, but it doesn’t in our world today and obviously didn’t in the days of the early church or we wouldn’t have the many places in Scripture which address this topic. While being born again gives us new life and we are given the Spirit to guide us, there is still the battle between the flesh and the spirit which we often fail to win, and sin comes back into our lives. We become self-centered, we give in to desires of the flesh, we seek our wants and desires, we act out in anger, we lack forgiving hearts towards others, we follow after our lusts…. I could keep going and would need to just to address the many ways I have failed to honor and obey Christ since being born again. I think of myself like the apostle Paul did in being “chief among sinners”, and I am sure I am not alone in this. Sin is something we must be battling in our lives. When we come up short in that battle, Praise God, He has made a way for us to still overcome through Him!
We talked last about being obedient to Christ and that we are to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:14-16). We cannot be holy if we are not righteous. We cannot be righteous if we have active sin in our lives. Yet God, knowing our failures has made a way that we can be made righteous by being born again; and we can continue to be made righteous after being born again by the same means: through Christ.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
We must confess that we have sinned. The goal is that we do not sin. However, if we do sin, we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ the righteous one who is the atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 2:1-2). His blood sacrifice paid for our sin once and for all (Hebrews 7:27; 10:10). What wonderful news! Yet we must confess that we have sinned. If we say we haven’t sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us (1 John 1:10).
Repentance is often the evidence of God at work in our lives. Under the Old Covenant, God used the prophets to speak to men concerning their sin. The prophet Nathan went and spoke to David concerning his sin with Bathsheba. The result of that encounter was what we are blessed to read in Psalm 51. David, the man after God’s own heart, recognized that his sin separated him from God and he confessed that he was conscious of his rebellion (Psalm 51:3). He acknowledged that his sin was against God alone (verse 4). He recognized that God had to clean his heart of sin and renew a right spirit in him (verse 10). He pleaded with God to not banish him or take the Holy Spirit from him (verse 11). He knows that it is God who can restore his joy (verse 12). Then he acknowledges it is a broken spirit and humbled heart that is pleasing to God and that God will not despise (verse 17).
God desires obedience first (1 Samuel 15:22). When we fail at obedience, it is the humbled heart and broken spirit that He desires to see in us. They are the evidence that we have had a true change of heart which will result in us turning away from our sinful way. God isn’t looking for us to say sorry today so we can go back to our sin tomorrow. Real repentance will show first in the heart and then reveal itself as we refrain from returning to our sin. Repentance restores us to the Father through the reconciling work of the Son. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)
Our first and primary purpose of confession and repentance is so that we can be made right with God, but, also, so we can be right with each other. Not only do we need forgiveness from God, but we also need forgiveness of those we have wronged. Confessing our sins and seeking forgiveness of our brothers and sisters restores our relationships with one another that have been broken by our sins. It also affords the opportunity for our brothers and sisters to follow the instructions of Christ to forgive one another. When we forgive each other, we display the love of God towards others and our testimony is strengthened. An often-overlooked part of our confessing sins to each other is also that it gives us the opportunity to bear one another’s burdens as we pray for each other and seek God’s help for fellow members of the body in their battle against sin.
Why is this all necessary for us to be useful for the Master? Without repentance and confession of our sins, how are we to be seen any different from the rest of the world? Not only is this a matter of restoration, but a matter of obedience and witness to the world through demonstrating that Christ has and continues to forgive us of our trespasses. The fact is an unrepentant person cannot remain in the body. That is why Christ explains the process for either restoring a member through their repentance or removing them from the body in Matthew 18:15-17. We must be repentant of our sins to remain in the body and we must be joined to the body to be useful to the Master – which is what we will look at in the next part of this series.
So, the question today is: Are you actively repenting and confessing your sins to God and to others? Are you just moving past your sin and ignoring it as though it didn’t happen and refusing to address it before God and men? I want to challenge you to call out to God to give you a broken spirit and humble heart so that you can be pleasing to Him. Ask others to pray for you that you can overcome your sin. Confess and repent so that you can be set free from the bondage that sin holds you in.
If this is something you struggle with and need help finding someone who will pray for you and with you, please contact me so I can pray for you and seek to help get you connected with a body of believers who will love and encourage you and bear your burdens with you. If you are having victory in your life in this area and have found the freedom that Christ gives when we repent and confess our sins to Him, leave a comment praising our Lord for His great love and grace. Commit to talking to a brother or sister about the importance of confessing and repenting of sin this week so that they too can restore their joy in the Lord.
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