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11. Learning to confess sin

The Master's instructions about the Christian life. (1 John 1:5-2:6).

There is not a Christian alive who does not want to be a better person than he already is. Neither is there one who would like other people to know all the thoughts he has in his head. Neither is there one who does not lose to temptation at some time.

Sin always erects a barrier between a person and God. The non-Christian needs that barrier removed by Jesus Christ. When he repents of his sin and responds in faith to Jesus’ death and resurrection he receives forgiveness for his sin.

Even though the disciple of Christ has a new attitude towards sin and will

do his best to turn away from it – choosing to follow the will of God for

his life – it is a sad fact that Christians do sin. From time to time all will

violate the will of God. 1 John 1:5-2:6 helps answer the question: ‘What

should you do when this happens to you?’

Recognise the fact that you have sinned (1 John 1:10)

It may be a wrong act such as telling a lie or losing your temper. It may

be a wrong attitude, such as holding resentment or being jealous. It may

be a wrong ambition, such as wanting to serve God in a way He doesn’t

want you to. All these are sin and must be admitted as such before God.

Covering sin over will have a similar effect to putting a plaster over a cut

with dirt still in it. The poison will fester.

Realize the results of your sin in your relationship with God (Isaiah 59:2)

A holy God cannot live in close relationship with a sinful person. He will

withhold himself from us until we learn what is displeasing him, and deal

with it. Every sin drives a wedge between us and God. It needs to be

removed – not hammered in further.

Realise the results of sin in your relationship with other believers

(1 John 1:7)

Any sin that is not dealt with will disrupt a church. Non-Christians will

accuse the Christian church of being ‘no different from anyone else’ if

the fellowship of the pub is more genuine than that of the parish church.

Any believer whose relationship with God is cool will be a weak link in the

church’s struggle with the enemy, Satan. The enemy always knows where

the weak links are and he uses them to the utmost.

The word ‘light’ means ‘holy living’. Jesus Christ Himself is the Light of

the world. He was sinless on earth as He taught men to live according to

God’s will. Mankind has always preferred to live as if there is no God.

John 3:19 speaks of men choosing to please themselves rather than God.

What men do not realise is the warning of Proverbs 28:13, that ‘he who

conceals his sins does not prosper’. The wise author goes on to say that

mercy is promised to the person who ‘confesses and renounces’ his sin.

Receive forgiveness and cleansing from God himself (1 John 1:9)

To receive specific cleansing from sin you must make specific confession

of sin. You cannot experience the forgiveness of God if you have not

agreed that you need forgiveness. God wants you to be aware of the

details in your life that displease Him. His Holy Spirit will bring them to

your attention one by one. You must then choose either to confess that

sin and receive cleansing from it, or to cover that sin over and suffer the

painful future consequences. If you choose the latter there will be an

immediate break in your close walk with God. If you choose the former

you are ‘cleansed from all unrighteousness’ and your close walk with Him

is restored.

Rely on God when tempted to sin again (1 Corinthians 10:13)

If you want to resist temptation, God will help you. If you do not want to,

He will sadly watch you drift away from Him. If you want to live near God,

God will live near you and look after you. He will encourage you to win

battles against sin. He will also gently reach out to restore you when you

lose from time to time. Psalm 119:11 tells us the Bible is of great use in

the battle.

Discussion guide on ‘Learning to Confess Sin’

Read 1 John 1:5 –2:6.

1. Why is it important for Christians to confess their sin to God?

2. According to 1 John 2:3-6, what is the evidence of a person having

become a genuine Christian?

3. Suppose, at the end of a day, you were quietly reviewing your life

and you became acutely aware of some sin . What should you do?


4. Why do some Christians never see an answer to prayer and never

see God use them? See Isaiah 59:1-2. What should they do? Why?

5. If we are concerned because we constantly let God down, how does

1 John 1:9 help us? Whose faithfulness do we rely on for our


6. Share practical ways Christians may pause to review their own lives

and confess sin to Almighty God.

Think of individual ways, but also ways Christians may do this



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