Confession (Part 1): By God’s Design

David Speicher

Confession is an integral part of recovery. Did you know that a restored relationship comes only through confession? You might think that having a changed life is enough, well it is not. Your changed life is a good thing for you, but what about the carnage you have left in the lives of other people?

I wonder what God thinks about all of this? I wonder what God sees as He looks into these things? He sees you, a changed man, blessed by Him and on your way to purity and holiness. He sees her, wounded, broken from all the sexual transgressions. I believe God would ask of you, ‘What are we going to do about all of this?’

You see, the scripture is replete with verses that would encourage you to look at another’s hurt, especially if you were the source of the hurt.

I hope that when you read this, you have already experienced God’s grace and mercy and that you know that you are truly forgiven. I hope that you can see beyond yourself to what has happened in others as a result of you.

One of those verses in the Bible that speaks to the issue of a man looking into another person’s life is II Corinthians 7:10. This is a powerful verse that will help you to understand God’s point of view in relation to others. Listen to this, ‘Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.’

The reason why confession is instrumental in restoring your relationship is that confession works in your heart, as well as in the hearts of those who have been hurt by you to produce God’s view of the situation. If you can get God’s perspective on the situation, you are so much closer to where you need to be.

Here is what often happens. When you do something wrong you say ‘I am sorry’ or you may venture out into those difficult words, ‘would you forgive me?’ The result of this is that you have fulfilled the legal requirements for asking for forgiveness and believing you are all done, you move away from the situation on to bigger and better things in your life. You have just engaged in a legal transaction, that is what I would call worldly sorrow. It is precisely this worldly sorrow that leads to death, because you are relieved of the guilt for what you have done, yet the other person still carries the hurt.

If nothing is done to address the hurt and you feel legally you are absolved of the situation, then you will experience death, death of the relationship.

You see, as unresolved hurts mount in the other person and you continue to say ‘I am sorry,’ or even ‘would you forgive me,’ that person will grow to resent you. That person will grow bitter. You will see no reason to change what you are doing, and you will assume the other person has not gotten over the hurt. You might even assume that this is her problem not yours. You believe you have done what is necessary by asking for forgiveness.
Listen men; do not fall into this trap by missing the true needs of that person. This is most likely not your heart, yet you can end up doing this time and time again.

Let’s look deeper into this verse. Use your imagination with me for just a moment. Can you imagine if God was watching the person that you hurt the moment when that person heard the news, maybe the moment that she found out about the betrayal? What do you think God was feeling for her? Maybe God was feeling compassion, a broken heart, sadness and sorrow. This is Godly sorrow.

Have you ever felt that sorrow? Don’t read by this too quickly, God’s sorrow, not yours. Not you sorrowing over what you have done, something different than that. You overwhelmed with the look on God’s face as He sees His precious child, His little girl hurting, have you ever felt that?

There is a big difference between these two. One is about you and the other is about God, and the only means of true restoration. One prompts you to say ‘there that is enough, I am I am done. I am no longer responsible for what I have done to her.’ The other prompts you to see things as God sees them. Then you feel things as God feels them and then you do things that God would have you do as His hands, feet and lips.

This kind of attitude would prompt conversation that might sound like this: ‘As I look into your soul (the way God does) I see hurt and brokenness. I am here as God’s agent of reconciliation. I am here to be what you need me to be.’

You see men, this is how Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and worldly sorrow leads to death. Worldly sorrow prompts you to do everything you can to restore you. Godly sorrow, because you see that you have hurt God and because you see that you have hurt others, prompts you to do everything you can to restore others. In the next article I would like to offer to you a template of what Godly confession looks like. A confession that is born from the foundation of a Godly sorrow that comes directly from the throne of God.

For more help, see Every Man’s Battle.

Practical Repentance

Joe Dallas

Did sin ever yield real pleasure? If so, go back to your old drudgery, and wear the chain again, if it delights you. But inasmuch as sin did never give you what it promised to bestow, but deluded you with lies, be free. ‘Charles Spurgeon

When you’re angry enough, scared enough, or frustrated enough, you take action. So it is with sexual sin. If you’re ready to repent of it, you’re probably angry (‘I’ve had it!’), scared (‘God be merciful to me a sinner!’), or feeling the futility of it all (‘There’s no future in this for me!’). All three roads lead to repentance.

To repent is to turn. That’s what distinguishes repentance from confession, which is a simple acknowledgment of sin as opposed to actively turning from it. It is through confession, according to John 1:9, that we are forgiven of sin: ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ I John 1:9 But confession doesn’t necessarily change us, important as it is.

God not only calls us to acknowledge our sin; He also commands us to put it away. Now ‘repent’ is a word we associate with dour men in sackcloth warning us about the coming doom. That’s too bad, because repentance is a valuable concept. It means ‘to think differently, reconsider, turn around.’ No real changes are made without it.

Repentance is the willful act of discontinuing a thing which is destructive, followed by an earnest effort to do what is constructive and right. In short, without confession nothing is forgiven, but without repentance nothing is changed. To repent, or turn, you need to first identify what you’re repenting of, then determine the most effective way to do it. Exactly what do you need to repent of? Of course, you can’t repent of having sexual impulses. You can’t rip them out and abandon them, and you can’t just will them away. Repentance applies to acts of the conscious will, whether they are outward actions or inward indulgences. So you are not trying to repent of sexuality per se but of conscious sexual sins. These would of course include sexual contact apart from marriage, and the use of pornography. These are direct forms of immoral behavior, easy to detect and obviously immoral.

‘We can’t keep the birds from flying over our heads, but we can keep them from building a nest in our hair.’ -Martin Luther

Sexual fantasies are similar. They, like sexual lust, are conscious acts of the imagination. And they too need to be distinguished from fleeting sexual thoughts. Martin Luther, speaking of impure thoughts, said that we can’t keep the birds from flying over our heads, but we can keep them from building a nest in our hair. That’s pretty well put. Wayward sexual thoughts come to everyone, I suppose, but when we indulge those thoughts by orchestrating sexual fantasies, then we’re not just having fleeting thoughts; we’re creating mental pornographic home movies.

But repentance shouldn’t stop there. You should also consider any activities that contribute to them or encourage them. Here you need to be very honest with yourself. Are there parts of your lifestyle’habits, places you like to go, forms of recreation’that encourage sexual immorality? That’s a question every Christian has to ask himself; it’s a question that’s doubly pertinent to you. So often, men can go on kidding themselves, then wonder why they’re not making any progress. They claim to want freedom, and seem willing to give up overt sexual sin, but show an unwillingness to give up the very things that lead them back into that activity. In all matters, the question should never be ‘Is going to such and such a place an overt sin?’ but rather ‘Do I have the liberty to go to this place without setting myself up to stumble? Will it encourage me toward my goals, or will it encourage me toward a setback?’

If you’re serious about repentance, bring every part of your life under scrutiny. Remember, you’re trying to emerge from the mindset of a child to that of an athlete, putting aside anything that interferes with your ultimate goal. That, in the truest sense, is repentance.

For more help see Every Man’s Battle.