Confessing Sin to Others

1 December 2021
Series: Recharge
Book: Mark

Bible Passage: Mark 14:65-72

Why should we confess our sin to others? Jonathan and Austin talk about the purpose of public confession and who you should trust. #Recharge

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Confessing Sin to Others: Why, When, and to Whom?

Discussion Question: Why should we confess our sin to others?

Bible Study

This past Sunday we saw the public failure of Peter. It wouldn’t be his last (See Galatians 2:11-14). Although Peter can’t be credited for publicly confessing when Paul called him out in his letter to the believers in Galatia, it can be argued that the details of Peter’s denial of Jesus in Mark are a direct public confession of his failures.

The Gospel of Mark is believed to be the account given to him by Peter. In addition, it doesn’t appear that any of the other disciples were around when this happened. Therefore, Peter is the only source in every account. Peter was apparently very open about the time he totally failed Jesus.

This is the second passage in a month where we have challenged the church to confess their sin not just to God but to others. Let’s go a little deeper into that subject and talk about why it’s important and share some Biblical wisdom in how it should be done.

Why confess our sins to others? 

If Jesus is our High Priest why do I need to talk to others about my sin?

When we confess our sin to others we proclaim the Grace of God!

1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah 5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah (Psalm 32:1-5)

David doesn’t tell us the details of his sin but that he was losing his mind with guilt and shame trying to hide it. When he finally confessed it to the Lord he experienced God’s grace and forgiveness. 

But here’s the key, David is telling us about sin that was so bad he was wasting away in sorrow. He’s confessing he messed up big time but God’s grace was bigger!

22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. 1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 7:22-8:4)

Like David, the Apostle Paul is not telling us the details of his sin. But he is telling us he has a struggle with a sin that deeply burdens him. He then tells us how the Gospel relieves Him of that burden!

When we confess our sin to others, we encourage others on the value of Holiness.

7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Notice Paul is demonstrating the grace of being rescued from arrogance. He is telling us this is a potential struggle with Him likely because it already is at some measure. He sees a sinful heart that wants to take the goodness that God has blessed him with in these revelations and twist them around for himself and his glory. 

But, God graciously humbles him so that he can walk in holiness. Humility, as opposed to arrogance, lifts up the grace of God that loves us, will never leave us, and works to move us to walk in life!

When we confess our sin to other Christians who affirm God’s grace over that sin it lifts the burden of shame and helps us move forward.

16Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. (James 5:16)

The conclusion is clear: therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other. A mutual concern for one another is the way to combat discouragement and downfall. The cure is in personal confession and prayerful concern. The healing (that you may be healed) is not bodily healing but healing of the soul (iathēte; cf. Matt. 13:15; Heb. 12:13; 1 Peter 2:24). It is the powerful and effective … prayer of a righteous person that brings the needed cure from God. This of course relates to the closing two verses of James’ letter. If James 5:14–16 refer to physical healing, then those verses seem disjointed with the verses before and after them.1

“Confess your sins” This is a PRESENT MIDDLE IMPERATIVE. “Therefore” shows the connection of v. 16 with the preceding discussion. Confession was and is an important part in the healing process (cf. Lev. 5:5; Num. 5:7; Ps. 51). It is an effective antidote to pride, self-centeredness, and sin.The major interpretive issue at this point is whether James has moved from a discussion of prayer for the physically ill person to prayer for the spiritually ill person, or whether the context of physical illness and physical healing continues. At issue is the concept of “save.” Does it refer to the OT sense of physical deliverance as in v. 15, or has it moved to the sense of spiritual salvation?2

“So that you may be healed” This is an AORIST PASSIVE SUBJUNCTIVE which adds an element of contingency. God is the one who heals. As there was ambiguity in the Greek term “sick” in v. 14, the same wide semantic field is found in the term “healed.” It can refer to physical or spiritual healing (cf. Matt. 13:15, quoting Isa. 6:10; Heb. 12:11–13; 1 Pet. 2:24, quoting Isa. 53:5).3

Confess your sins to each other. No elder is needed for this as each believer is a priest. There is value in confessing sin out loud and receiving from another believer the assurance that it is forgiven.4

Three principles of caution when confessing your sin publicly:

How do I know what others should be told? Do we tell the world everything, some things or nothing?

Conviction vs. Guilt

Confession is good for the soul so be careful that it is the Holy Spirit leading you to share with a person and not guilt. Those who we confess to become those who hold us to it.

Many people who battle addictions feel a rush when they first come off and want to get it off their chest to everybody what they’ve done. However, doing it to soon can set them up for failure. Relapses can result in feeling overly ashamed about letting everybody down. They end up in the pit of guilt again, hooked on the drug again.

Timing & Communication

Sometimes those we’ve hurt by our sin are not ready for everybody to know it, therefore, timing and communication with those we’ve offended is everything.

When a person has an affair, for example, the spouse that was offended may not be in a position to handle everybody knowing. 

Who you share your sin with initially needs to be a trusted circle. When the time is right and the spouse is ready they can be more open to everybody else.

Judgemental Jerks

The broader your confession becomes the higher the chance you will be judged by jerks! Before you share something publicly you need to be strong enough to disregard those that will turn their nose up at you.

Who should I confess sin to?

People Who Understand Grace

People who understand their own need for grace and are willing to bear spiritual burdens with others and help restore them.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. (Galatians 6:1-3)

People of Character 

Only confess to people who can be trusted not to gossip.

27 A worthless man plots evil, and his speech is like a scorching fire. 28 A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends. 29 A man of violence entices his neighbor and leads him in a way that is not good. 30 Whoever winks his eyes plans dishonest things; he who purses his lips brings evil to pass. (Proverbs 16:27-30)

19Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler. (Proverbs 20:19)

People You Trust

People you want and trust to have a deep meaningful Gospel-centered relationship with. (i.e. your spouse, children, family, small group, etc.)

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:12-16)

24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Footnotes

  1. Blue, J. R. (1985). James. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 835). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  2. Utley, R. J. D. (2000). Jesus’ Half-Brothers Speak: James and Jude (Vol. Volume 11, p. 73). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.
  3. Utley, R. J. D. (2000). Jesus’ Half-Brothers Speak: James and Jude (Vol. Volume 11, p. 74). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.
  4. Davids, P. H. (1994). James. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 1367). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.