Confess. Repent. Repeat.

Confess

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

Confession is the heart of the matter when dealing with sin when temptation has overtaken us when our fleshly desires win the momentary battle and we indulge in self-gratification. While John speaks of confessing to God, it is also vitally important to have an accountability partner or group to which we can also confess. Look at James 5:16:

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

When someone confesses sin to another person they are immediately presented with an opportunity for prayer. Prayer for strength, repentance, and spiritual healing. Sin damages the sinner, in fact, as we have noted, its ultimate goal is to bring about death. When we are caught in sin we need to confess to each other, confess to God, and ask for repentance to be granted.

Repent

Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.

Acts 8:22

I love this passage as it pertains to repentance because it drills down to the very core of the matter at hand; the heart. The misguided desires of the inner man lead us to temptation and temptation to sin. When we repent, we must do more than repent of the outward deed. The lamentation of earthly consequence may be devastating, but sadness over a consequence is not the same as grief for its cause.

Repentance is also more than simply a way to get through the moment. It does allow us to move on in our walk with Christ, but there is far more at stake than just moving along. Our future may actually depend on our repentance. Psalm 51:1 gives great insight into our necessary position before God. David, a man after God’s own heart, is in no position to bargain with God, and neither are we.

He does one thing in this great verse; cries out for mercy. Mercy can only be obtained in our confession and repentance.

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

Proverbs 28:13

The goal of confession and repentance is to not just to buffer the effects of sin, but to eradicate it. We need them blotted out before the eyes of the Lord (Psalm 51, again). When He looks at me I shudder to think all he can see is my sin. I want them gone, washed under the blood of Jesus.

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out.

Acts 3:19
 

We must repent before we can even worship. I wonder how many of us have tried to worship for years with unconfessed, unrepentant sin, and wonder why our ‘sacfrifices’, our worship, isn’t pleasing to Him?

Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.

Matthew 9:13

When we repent of our sin or turn away from it to go a different way, the Lord will receive us and will not turn us away.

For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him.

2 Chronicles 30:9b

While the context of 2 Timothy 2:25 is the reproof of an elder, note the language used to discuss how repentance comes from God.

correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth

2 Timothy 2:25

Repentance, true and real repentance that leads to holiness, is something we need granted to us by God through His Spirit. Our flesh is broken and busted, in need of great repair. The change in desire, the strength to limit our opportunities, and the power to have self-control in the face of temptation must come from God. The same is true for the often gut-wrenching strength to truly repent before a Holy and righteous Father.

Repeat

Steven J. Cole says in his article about Ongoing Repentance that “[it]takes sin seriously and takes the necessary steps to break from it”. We are prone to sin. Our flesh is weak. All of us. Every last one.

The sin in our lives must die. In our modern enlightened world, we seem to have lost an appreciation for the doctrine of mortification. It is that intentional and purposeful putting to death of the sinful deeds of the fleshly body, empowered by the Spirit of God for the task. It is this empowering that makes it different from simple behavior modification. This Divinely appointed endeavor can only rightly be done as the Spirit gives us the ability.

I started to write, “I don’t know about you, but …” then I stopped. I do know about you. I know about me, and I know about all of humanity. We are prone to sin. Just as the old hymn reminds me, I am “prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the One I love.”

As we see over and over in the Scriptures, the matter of sin and obedience is a matter of life and death. Our temptation is born from the sinful desires of our flesh. Temptation acted upon in a moment of opportunity brings sin, and sin brings death.

When I was a child I loved to read adventure stories. My favorites were the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. Throughout the book, the reader had choices. You could choose different paths and create different endings. Each time it was like reading a brand new book. Our walk with the Lord is much the same.

Every day we have choices. Choices for life or death. When we find ourselves to have chosen poorly, all is not lost. Not only that, a life characterized by holiness is more than just possible, it is an achievable command. This is the beauty of the Gospel.

1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 2:1-2