Session 7 – When you stumble (Confess)
SPOILER ALERT – EVEN AFTER YOU ARE SAVED, THE SIN STRUGGLES CONTINUE! WHAT TO DO?
Even though God’s power is at work within you, helping you to become more like Jesus, you will stumble. This is not to remove the joy of your new faith; it is to prepare you for the joy of spiritual growth that lies ahead. God knows this and is not surprised, and it does not affect his commitment toward you. What is “sin”? Is temptation sin? How will you tell God that you sinned and are sorry? Does he forgive? Can you be cleansed?
Watch the “When you stumble, Confess” video
So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. Romans 7:14-25
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Psalm 51:1 – 12
BE READY FOR ONGOING TEMPTATIONS AND TEST
You are now saved, a child of God and part of His family. God directs all His children “to sin no more” (Romans 6:2, Romans 6:6, John 5:14-15, 1 John 3:6-10). While this will be our life experience once in Heaven, we may (and most likely will) struggle with earthly temptations while God is changing us. If and when we give-in, we will have sinned.
None of us is conformed to the image of Christ overnight. Sanctification is a moment-by-moment challenge. It’s a process that will not be complete until we leave this world and see the Lord face to face. In the meantime, our assignment is to trust God and keep on “walking in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16).
According to Scripture, all our sin was paid for when we accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” When we make that divine exchange at the cross, God chooses to see us as righteous. It is not our righteousness but the righteousness of Christ that God sees (Titus 3:5). He switches accounts with us: our tarnished rap sheet for His perfect record. We have the full approval and acceptance of God from then on.
So why do you at times still sin even when you know better and do not want to? (Romans 7:14-25, James 4:17-21, 1 John 1:7-9). Is it because you do not like being told what to do even it is best for you? God does speak absolute truth through His word. We do not always want to do life His way, so we rebel!
Unconfessed sin works like a drape. God delights in His children (Psalm 37:23, Romans 8:38–39). He desires to bless us, fellowship with us, and shower His approval upon us (Psalm 84:11, Psalm 115:13, 1 Samuel 2:30). He wants us to bask in the warmth of His smile. But when we choose sin, we build a barrier between ourselves and our holy Father. We pull the drape on fellowship with Him and begin to feel the chill of spiritual loneliness. Many times, we angrily accuse God of leaving us when, in truth, we have left Him. When we stubbornly refuse to repent, we will be disciplined by our loving Father (Hebrews 12:7–11). The Lord’s discipline can be severe, even leading to death when a heart has hardened to the point of no return (1 Corinthians 11:30, 1 John 5:16). God longs for restored fellowship even more than we do (Isaiah 65:2, Isaiah 66:13, Matthew 23:37, Joel 2:12–13). He pursues us, disciplines us, and loves us even in our sin (Romans 5:8). But He leaves our free will intact. We must pull back the drape by confessing and repenting.
If, as children of God, we choose to remain in our sin, then we choose the consequences that go with that choice. Broken fellowship and lack of growth result. However, those who persist in sin need to reexamine their true relationship with God (2 Corinthians 13:5). Scripture is clear that those who know God do not continue a lifestyle of unrepentant sin (1 John 2:3–6, 1 John 3:7–10). A desire for holiness is a hallmark of those who know God. To know God is to love Him (Matthew 22:37–38). To love Him is to desire to please Him (John 14:15). Unconfessed sin gets in the way of pleasing Him, so a true child of God wants to confess it, change it, and restore fellowship with God.
It will probably happen, so what to do?
Our God is a God of love, but He is also holy and righteous. God cannot tolerate sin, so the sins we commit create a barrier between Him and us and interrupts our fellowship with Him.
Even in our human relationships, we can see how this can be. Let’s say you offend your friend by saying something hurtful, and you never apologize. You both feel a rift between you, but until you clear the air by apologizing, you simply can’t be at ease in each other’s presence.
This is even truer in our relationship with the Lord. When we commit a sin, the Holy Spirit lets us know we’ve offended the Lord. The ease and sweetness of our relationship is broken. We’ve trespassed against Him, and that sin is now a barrier between us, disrupting our fellowship with the Lord.
So the reason we need to confess our sins to the Lord is because, though our salvation is unchangeable, our sins break our fellowship with the Lord.
God wants you to quickly confess (agree with God that what you did was wrong), repent and ask for forgiveness (1 John 1:9). Repent means to change your mind about sin, turn around and go the other way and cooperate with God as He changes you.
Confession and repentance is not a one-time event; it’s a lifestyle. God already knows what you have done, but he wants to hear it from you so a conversation can take place (1 John 1:9, Proverbs 28:13, Psalm 32:3-5, Acts 3:19).
When sin is confessed, exposed to light, and forgiven, it’s power is broken (Romans 6:1-11).
God is truth. God is good all the time and wants only the best for you. All His commands, rules and guidelines are truly for your good (Deuteronomy 10:13). They are the only way to live a truly joyful and prosperous life (Psalm 16:11). Jesus desire is for you to “become perfect as He is perfect “(Matthew 5:48).
DEALING WITH REAL THREATS
But be aware, you have an enemy who will be constantly trying to tempt you to fallback and sin (Numbers 13:2-4). He is at war with God (and with you). His desire is to see you deny and reject Jesus. His name is Satan/The Devil/Lucifer, and he is very real (1 Peter 5:8-9, 1 John 3:8, John 10:10). There is a war going on for your soul.
Additionally, you will be dealing with “the temptations of the world (‘the enemy around us’)” and “your natural flesh (‘the enemy within us’)” 1 John 2:16.
SO WHAT TO DO?
God says do not yield to sin. Remember you cannot overcome by your own will power or determination. You need His grace and the power of the Holy Spirit to prevail. Go to Him and request it as often as needed!
Always be spiritually prepared as a warrior going to battle. God provides a full suit of armor described in Ephesians 6:10-18. Put it on and use it! At times the best advice is just to flee (2 Timothy 2:22, 1 Thessalonians 5:22, Ecclesiasticus 21:2). God is on your side and will equip you for victorious living (Psalm 118:6, Romans 8:31).
You must learn to submit to God, resist the devil, and he MUST flee (1 Peter, John 14:2-4, Colossians 3:1-4, Revelation 7:15-17, Revelation 21:1-8, Matthew 25:45-46, 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9, Proverbs 15:24, Matthew 25:41, Matthew 10:28, Matthew 5:8, James 4:7).
Spiritual safety and growth come by talking to God and listening for His responses (prayer). Reading and studying His word (the Bible). Finding a good daily devotional and following it.
Get plugged into a God-loving, Bible teaching church with folks who are willing to walk through life with you. Surround yourself with folks who love the Lord, know His word, and will be there for you at any time. Continually request God’s grace and the Holy Spirit’s power for help in time of need (Luke 14:33, Matthew 16:25-26, Philippians 3:7-9).
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TEST AND A TEMPTATION?
Jesus was ‘without sin’, yet even He was ‘tempted in every way, just as we are’ (Hebrews 4:15). God allows tests and temptation in your life. As you go through them your faith is strengthened.
As you become aware of sinful temptations or actions, immediately call upon God for forgiveness, grace and the Holy Spirits power to resist and be changed.
It is good to know that tests come from God (He wants you to pass them and win), while temptations come from the devil (he wants you to fail and sin).
Everybody is tempted. Temptation is not sin until yielded to. Before you were saved you had no choice but to sin. But now It is your choice (James 1:13-18, 1 Corinthians 10:13).
All temptations revolve around control – control of your appetites, control of your ambitions, and control of your life. The devil wants to control your life. In contrast, God wants you to know the freedom that comes from being led by the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:23-4:13). Sin is aggressive. It comes after you and wants you to give in and deny God. Satan hates the fact he lost you to God and wants you back (John 16:33, 1 John 4:4)!
You are not alone, all your temptation has been experienced by others. This is one reason to have several Christians around you who can pray and encourage you when test and temptations come your way. If God allows or causes a circumstance, He will provide a way through it (1 Corinthians 10:13). You are to walk always by the Power of Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16). This is how your godly character is developed, and your testimony is built.
Sin builds walls between God and people in your life. It thrives in isolation. Sin is quick to keep us from growing closer to God, our spouse, and our friends. Therefore, when we confess our sins and struggles to God and others, we are stepping out of isolation and back towards relationship. We open up access to God and our community when we can share the stories of our struggles, repentance, and desire for redemption. A life of sin is lived in hiding, whereas a life of confession is lived authentically with God and others.
We all fall short of God’s perfection every day. Confessing, asking forgiveness and repenting is liberating. Having a clear conscience is priceless. Make this your lifestyle. It is your path to continued growth into Christ-likeness!
This will probably take time, but with God’s help, you will sin less and can become truly free in Christ (Ephesians 4:32, 1 John 1:19, Matthew 6:14-15).
That is His promise if you will only cooperate.
The next session is #8 – God’s Power, the Holy Spirit and Grace