Many Protestant Christians do not confess their sins: that
is, they do not name them clearly before God. They keep their
sins and shortcomings buried in their heart. But the sins
continue to publicize their presence in their private thoughts,
in their words, and in their deeds: adulterous thoughts, spiteful
words, and acts of hatred and revenge, for example.
Sins - ever last one of them - must be confessed with the
mouth (the basic meaning of confession) as soon as they are
pointed out by the Holy Spirit. A person has to tell the Lord,
and sometimes other people, exactly what it is he has thought,
said, or done. We may be in too much of a hurry to start naming
our sinful imaginations, motives, words, and deeds one at a time
to the Lord. God is not in that much of a hurry. He will take the
time to listen now or He will take the time to listen during the
day of judgment. As it is written: "Every idle word that men
shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of
Only an overcoming Christian, and one with experience, can
engage in this kind of daily judging of his motives and actions
without falling into gloom and introspection. Confessing one's
sins with authority and power is the act of a conqueror, not of a
half-hearted person who continually is falling away from his
state of obedience to the Master. Perhaps this is why the
judgment upon sin in the life of the believer is delayed
symbolically and actually until the person is past initial
salvation, past Pentecost, and well into the convocation of
Some Christian teachers have maintained that it is necessary
only to acknowledge our sinfulness to Christ, accept His
forgiveness, and then forget about the sinful nature. To do
otherwise, they counsel, will result in the resurrection of the
sinful nature. This approach to sin in the Christian life solves
the problem for some believers, at least for a season, and can be
very helpful to the person who has gotten himself worked into a
vain struggling against the adversary, against the spirit of the
age, and against his own flesh. The will and virtue of a person
fighting "in the flesh" cannot possibly overcome the power of
sin. But if, on the usher hand, the disciple is under the
impression that sin cannot affect him because he has accepted
Christ, how then can the Spirit of God point out to him acts of
sin which he is committing?
Anyone who studies the revivals of the past can notice that
the outpourings of God's Holy Spirit were accompanied by
confession of sins on the part of God's people. The fact seems to
be that we must walk our daily overcoming life in Christ
absolutely in faith and with no tinge of gloom or introspection.
But we also must ever be ready to sense the rebuke of the
Holy Spirit and to immediately bring the offending thought or
word to the Lord for forgiveness. If we are walking in the Spirit
of God the act of daily confessing will not depress us, but
rather will enable us to live a victorious life in this world.
Why is it that Protestants do not include the practice of
confessing sins in their daily walk with Jesus? It may be that
they have supposed that the exhortations of Scripture against sin
are directed toward the people of the world rather than toward
the people of God. It may stem from an ignorance of the context
of passages of Scripture.
Both the old and new covenant writings are explicit as to
what constitutes sin. Many of such biblical pronouncements can be
categorized under sexual lust, idolatry, or hatred. It may be
observed that mankind has not changed a thousandth of an inch
since the days of Noah and Lot. Lust, demon worship, and murder
filled the earth in those days; and lust, demon worship, and
murder fill the earth in our days.
The nations of Western civilization resemble Sodom and
Gomorrah and are hurtling toward destruction with express-train
speed. And America is right in the forefront! God always will
exercise His wrath upon sexual lust in all its perverted forms,
idolatry, and demon worship. This is equally true in the church
and in the world.
Perhaps we Christians interpret God's longsuffering and
forbearance as a kind of tolerant amusement of our sins, an "It's
all in the family" kind of attitude. If so, then we have no
conception of the smoking wrath of God that forever is directed
toward these practices, or of the maelstrom of destruction which
surrounds us. "For the time is come that judgment must begin at
the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end
be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous
scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner
appear?" (I Pet.4:17,18. "Knowing therefore the terror of the
Lord, we persuade men" (2 Cor.5:11).
MISUNDERSTANDING OF GRACE
One of the more important reasons for our not confessing the
sins in our daily walk may arise from a misunderstanding of
doctrine, particularly the doctrine of grace.
The word grace, it appears, frequently is understood to mean
the total forgiveness of sins which occurs at the time of the
believer's initial acceptance of the atonement made by the blood
of Christ. The application of grace to the older Christian's life
often is limited to the idea that God forgives our stumblings and
shortcomings. Such seems to be the customary understanding of the
concept of grace among believers in Christ.
The writer holds firmly to the understanding that salvation
is the free gift of God which comes upon our accepting by faith
the blood atonement made by Christ. But the doctrine which
maintains that an initial acceptance of the atonement of Christ
is the believes only encounter with the problem of sin in his
life, or that there is no power in God's grace to overcome sin in
us, simply cannot be supported by the New Testament writings.
How could anyone study the letters of Paul, John, Peter,
James, and Jude and come to such a conclusion? The truth of the
matter appears to be that the disciple must be alert continually
to the leadings and workings of the wisdom and power of the
Spirit of God as He leads us in the conquest of the spirit of
this age, the nature and works of Satan, and the lust of the
flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
We are in a war, though we may not realize it. The Christian
church is God's holy instrument for judging rebellious spirits,
not a civic club or fraternal order. Satan, in many instances,
has the Christian church bound hand and foot to the extent that
we no longer actually believe many of the facts, claims, demands,
and promises of the Old and New Testaments. Yet we may be
picturing ourselves as the Church Triumphant against which the
gates of Hell shall not prevail.
Perhaps it is closer to the truth to say that the Christian
church has been a blind Samson making sport for the Philistines.
We may have been making great boasts while "lying in the lap of
Delilah." But where is the power of God? Paul says, "I ... will
know, not the speech of them who are puffed up, but the power" (I
It is time now for us to confess our sins. "If we (Christian
disciples) confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive
us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John
1:9). As we "walk in the light" (walk in the perfect will of God
as revealed continually by the Holy Spirit and proved by the
offering of ourself as a living sacrifice), the Spirit of God
points out to us specific sins of imagination, motive, word, and
The distinction must be maintained between accusations of
Satan and the pin-pointing of sin by the Holy Spirit. Satan
constantly is planting ideas in our mind and accusing us of
things Christ already has forgiven, or of sins we haven't really
committed and have no intention of committing. A Christian
through experience learns to recognize Satan and to resist his
accusations. Such accusations are not sin and do not need to
be confessed. Sometimes we have to pray for faith and for
strength to overcome the depression, gloom, and fear which such
The sins of imagination, motive, word, and deed which are
pointed out to us by the Holy Spirit, and which therefore must be
confessed, are those which we more or less accept and dwell upon,
which we harbor for a period of time, which for one reason or
another we do not firmly disown. These attitudes, thoughts, and
deeds are sins and must be named as such before the Lord.
Imaginations, motives, words, and deeds must be brought
under the absolute domination of Christ, and this takes
experience, prayer, faith, and a mighty determination to overcome
in Christ. The total subjection of the believer's personality to
the rule of Christ is a forerunner of the great day of the Lord
when every creature in the universe, willingly and joyfully, or
otherwise, shall bow in subjection to Jesus Christ. All
resistance to the rule of Jesus Christ is sin.
"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh.
(for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty
through God to the pulling down of strongholds) casting down
imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against
the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought
to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor.10:3-5).
1 JOHN 1:9.
The Day of Atonement has to do with God's provision for the
sins of Israel. Three events which occurred on the Day of
Atonement were as follows: (1) the blood of a young bull and the
blood of a goat were sprinkled upon and before the mercy seat to
make an atonement for the holy place, for Aaron and his
household, for the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and for all
the congregation of Israel, "because of the uncleanness of the
children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all
their sins" (Lev.16:14-17); (2) the sins of the children of
Israel were confessed by Aaron and laid upon the head of a living
goal (Lev.16:21), and (3) the scapegoat was removed from the
camp, bearing away "all their iniquities unto a land not
inhabited" (Lev.16.22). The provision for the sins of God's
people, portrayed in the Day of Atonement ceremony, included
atonement, confession, and removal.
There is a similar pattern in I John 1 :9: "If we confess
our sins, he is faithful arid just to forgive us our sins (on the
basis of the atonement which was made once and for all time upon
Calvary), and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." When the
believer maintains that he has no sin there is a strong
possibility that he is misapplying the teachings of Paul (2 Pet.
3:16; I John 1:8). Most of us Christians, if we will think about
our imaginations, motives, words, and deeds, must acknowledge
that there are occasions when we do exhibit a sinful disposition.
The question is: Is there provision in the Christian
salvation for actually cleansing human nature? We believe there
The Christian counterpart of the Day of Atonement works each
day in our life as we confess our sins. It is not a case of our
scrutinizing our motives until we turn ourselves into intro-
spective, tortured, despairing souls. Rather it is a matter of
living joyously in the knowledge that Christ has forgiven our
sins and that we are without condemnation while the process of
deliverance is going on (Ram.8:1 ).
The Christian experience is one of power, of love, and of a
sound mind, not of guilt and defeat. Spiritual strength is based
upon the sure knowledge that in Christ we are without
condemnation before God. This strength is necessary if the
Christian is to stand up successfully under the searchings and
cleansings of the Spirit of God, and under the stress of the
warfare against Satan.
When the Holy Spirit points out to a Christian a sinful
thought, word, or deed, the believer is to name it specifically,
acknowledging it to be sin. Confession, ordinarily, is to be
made to God. However, sometimes the occasion requires that
confession be made to people as well. When we confess the sin the
Lord is faithful and just to forgive the sin and to cleanse it
away. The forgiveness and cleansing is the Christian fulfillment
of the Hebrew Day of Atonement.
TYPICAL EXAMPLE OF DELUSION
Many devout Christians will not sin knowingly even though
they are tempted sorely. Satan's approach to such people may come
in the realm of delusion and deception.
For example, let us imagine that a voice speaks to you and
tells you that you are especially chosen of the Lord and that all
Christians in the city in which you live are supposed to obey you
and to give reverence to you. You are "The Apostle," or "The
Pastor," or "The Prophet" of your area,. especially singled out
by God to take charge of the particular geographical region. This
is a wild proposition but it is characteristic of the fantasies
with which Satan fills the spiritual atmosphere. Notice how this
particular delusion is pitched toward the spiritually ambitious
person, not the lethargic or disinterested.
The watchful overcoming Christian will reject the voice at
once since the explicit words as well as the tenor of the
teachings of Jesus forbid an elevation of a member of the body of
Christ over his brothers.
But let us imagine further that instead of resisting the
voice on the basis of Scripture, you toy with the flattering
notion. It is possible, in spite of the Scripture, that God
indeed has chosen you for honor of this kind. You always have had
the feeling deep down inside that you have a special destiny.
Your common sense will hold you back for a while from overt acts
perhaps, but in your heart the concept is growing that you are
especially favored of the Lord and cannot be deceived. Even
though Christ has warned us to pray, "Lead us not into
temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." you have an "in"
with God since you are one of His favorites.
Naturally you are above asking a fellow Christian to help
you judge the voice since this would ruin it all for you - they
would never understand!
Now Satan has brought you quite a way into deception. Satan
has no power over a Christian unless he can get the believer to
cooperate with him, to listen to his suggestions. If Satan can
get the Christian to disobey the Word of God, he can bring the
Christian into bondage. This is how he brought death to Adam and
The Christian believer is mistaken if he thinks that Satan
will not lie to him. The overcoming disciple is mistaken if he
believes that he cannot have dreams, visions, premonitions,
fleeting glimpses into the supernatural, that are not of God. The
sold-out saint is mistaken if he believes that because he is
surrendered wholly to God that he will not receive all kinds of
pleasurable satanic delusions calculated to appeal to his
individual personality. His total consecration to God makes him
all the more interesting to the forces of darkness.
The disciple is making a great mistake if he throws his
personality open, saying in effect, "I am without a will of my
own. I will move however God moves me." The believer who takes
this attitude will be moved by a spirit, true enough. But it will
not be the Spirit of God. He now is open to every spiritual
revelation that the cunning forces of darkness can manufacture.
The believer has declared himself to be fair game. We wonder
how many Christians there are in the world who believe that God
will not allow them to be exposed to the counterfeit revelations
of Satan. Whatever the number is, that is the number of
Christians who are living in deception.
Instead of believing himself to be immune to deception, or
presenting himself as a puppet for the Spirit of God to move in
the manner of a puppeteer, the Christian must judge all things
through the Scripture, through prayer, through ministry and help
from fellow members of the body of Christ, through the counsel of
devout and experienced elders of the church, and through a
consistent life of cross-carrying obedience to the Spirit of God.
The Christian must be super-cautious concerning any "voices"
that speak to him. He must use his will and judgment in doing
God's will and avoid a tendency toward passive yielding.
Never does God take away a person's will. It is with the
will that man chooses continually to obey God's Word rather than
the flatteries or threats of Satan. The will is associated with
the powers of choice and judgment in man. Our will is guided by
the Bible and strengthened through constant prayer and through
being decisive at appropriate times.
We will serve the Lord. We will follow Jesus. We will read
the Word of God and we will be guided by it. We will resist the
devil. We will resist temptation. Of course, we are not teaching
that man can save himself through his will power. We are saved by
faith in Jesus Christ. But we are teaching that the will of man
is of great importance in the plan of salvation and that it is
impossible to pursue the overcoming life until the will is
strengthened in prayer and is razor-sharp. "A double-minded man
is unstable in all his ways" (James 1:8). If Adam and Eve had
used their wills and served God in the manner He commanded they
would still be enjoying the garden. God wants Christian men and
women, not puppets.
Now, back to the believer who is entertaining the suggestion
that he is especially favored of the Lord. As we said, your
common sense will keep you from rash behavior at first. But the
thrilling concept of spiritual preeminence is locked up in your
heart. Sooner or later the forces of wickedness by which you are
bound will express themselves and you will say or do something
that will shock your Christian sensibilities. The shock may cause
you to enter a state of confusion.
Satan may move in at this point with powerful pressures of
guilt and fear. You may feel forced to continue in the delusion
because of the incorrect notion that since you are yielded to
God's will it is impossible for you to be deceived. If you submit
to the fear and confusion and continue to assent to the delusion
that you are an "especially chosen person," although this
deception already has borne evil fruit in your life, you are
starting down a long dark road to total deception and demonic
Rather than Submitting to the fear and confusion, you may
wish to be delivered. Deliverance from the power of demons always
is available to people through the blood atonement which Jesus
Christ made on the cross. Get down before God and confess with
your mouth that you have believed yourself to be especially
chosen and now you doubt that the voice that told you this was of
Confess the situation, whatever it is in your case, and ask
God to judge it. Do not be proud. Never fear that you will lose
something of God by doing this, or that God will be insulted and
draw away from you. Never! That is exactly what Satan wishes for
you to think so that you will keep away from Christ's delivering
power. When you confess your sins, doubts, rears, or questions,
God will receive you, He knows all about the battle.
Anything that God has given you can stand all the
examination that can be brought to bear upon it. The wisdom that
comes from above is gentle, easy to be entreated. It is Satan who
desires that ideas be buried in the darkness of your mind and
heart, and who floods you with fear when you try to bring things
out into the open. Satan cannot stand light but God dwells in the
light. When you confess your imaginations, motives, words, and
deeds, you are handing them to the light of God so that they can
Confess the thoughts and deeds of preeminence, or of lust,
or of murder, or of whatever you are suspicious of and troubled
about in your own heart and life, and ask God to judge them. If
it appears to be too much for you to handle, get a mature Christ-
ian (of your own sex unless it is your own wife or husband) and
confess to him or her and ask for prayer and counsel. "Confess
your faults (sins,offenses) one to another, and pray one for one
another, that ye may be healed" (James 5:16). God is faithful and
just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all
From now on resist the wicked thoughts and deeds, resting in
the strength of Christ as you do so, and Satan will flee - not
walk away gracefully - will flee from you. "Resist the devil, and
he will flee from you" (James 4:7). Never, never, never give up.
God does not change His mind. We are in a warfare. Keep on
keeping on in the right way, remembering that God "has delivered
us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the
kingdom of his dear son" (Col.1:13). If you are bound tightly and
hopelessly in the realms of darkness, why don't you try laughing
at Satan and at the forces which bind you. Jesus has far and away
more authority and power than is necessary to set you absolutely,
completely free in every respect, body, soul, and spirit. If you
haven't realized before that Jesus has all authority and power in
heaven and upon the earth, please be assured that it is true. All
that remains for the accomplishment of perfect deliverance is the
unwavering exercise of your faith in Jesus and in God's Word. If
you just can't seem to bring faith to bear on your problem, ask
Christ for HIS faith.
If you are still in doubt, confess your confusion to a
mature Christian of your own sex. As the two of you pray
together, any working of Satan will be brought to the light and
shown for what it is.
TO BE CONTINUED