What is Christian confession?

Dale McCamish - Contributing columnist

As we continue to study Job from the Bible during our worship time this Sunday, our congregation will be led to a time of confession while we worship together.

In chapter 42 of the book of Job, the friends of Job are called to repent and ask forgiveness of God. But to have forgiveness from God they must have a blood sacrifice and someone to go between them and pray for their forgiveness.

When Christians confess we need the same, we need a blood sacrifice to pay for our sins and someone righteous enough to go between us and God. We find both of those requirements in Jesus Christ. When Jesus died He was both the righteous “go-between” and the sacrifice for sins.

This dual role of Christ is why confession of sins can be so rewarding. Since we are commanded by God to confess our sins and God promises to forgive our sins (1 John 1:9), we should strive to have a Scriptural understanding of what confession of sins means.

First, confession can be a list of sins that we bring before God and verbally tell him that we have sinned. But we cannot just stop here with a verbal listing of our sins. Just saying them out loud or silently in prayer to God doesn’t do anything with them except bring them to mind.

If we don’t deal with our sins we just end up feeling guilty. Likewise, when we confess to other Christian believers we cannot just confess and leave the sins as a list.

Confession is not just an acknowledgement of sin, it is also an agreement with what God has done with those sins. In confession, we can be reminded both by God and our Christian friends that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and his intervening on our behalf takes away our sins and makes them no more.

We boldly declare with our confession of sins that 1) God has forgiven us, 2) we don’t have to stay bound by that sin, 3) Christ has set us free from sin, and 4) we are declared righteous before Him.

Times of confession, then, turns into something we should seek and be grateful to have.

That’s how the Scripture defines confession. The Apostle John writes that we should acknowledge that we sin, we should confess our sins, and know that God has forgiven us in Christ (1 John 1:8-9).

This in turn helps us break the power of sin over us and reminds us that Jesus Christ is constantly going in-between us and God forgiving us from all our sins. “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin.

But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2.

If you have questions about your forgiveness with God or what it means to confess — find a trustworthy Christian friend and ask them to help you discover what the Bible says about forgiveness, or contact any of our local churches and ask for the pastor.

They can help teach you what God says about the rewards and freedom from sin Jesus gives us through his death and resurrection and how confession can help you be free, too.

As always, if you would like further study help or have any questions, please contact me at dale@wcconline.org.

Dale McCamish is Pastor of Wilmington Church of Christ.


Dale McCamish

Contributing columnist