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October 18, 2020 | Doug Sauder
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“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”—James 5:16 (NKJV)
There are ways we can humbly seek the Lord so our prayers can be effective. A popular prayer acronym to remember is ACTS which stands for:
Adoration (praising God for His attributes)
Confession (asking forgiveness from God and others)
Thanksgiving (gratitude for all His blessings and benefits)
Supplication (pleading humbly for others and oneself)
Today, we’re going to focus on confession. In today’s passage, James clearly says for our prayer life to be effective, confessing our sin is very important. The Bible also records examples of David, Solomon, Daniel, and Nehemiah who offer humble prayers of confession for themselves as well as their people.
Moses was instructed by God in the wilderness to build a worship center called the tabernacle. In the outer courtyard, there was a brass altar. To confess and atone for their sins, the people would bring either a lamb, goat, or bullock and lay their hands on the head of the animal to identify with it as it was sacrificed.
The meaning for confess in the Greek is, “to speak the same.” It’s agreeing with God by saying the same thing He says. Jon Courson says, “Confession says, ‘Father I agree with You that this thought or action is sin. It is destructive and is not right. Forgive me for lying to her or forgive me for hating him.’” It’s agreeing and offering our sin up to the Lord, our sacrificial Lamb.
Few Christians practice true confession the way God intends, especially with one another. Why? We fear vulnerability. Our pride refuses to “admit” wrong. But refusing to obey God can lead to sickness—not only physically, but spiritually, emotionally, or relationally.
In Matthew 5:23-24 (HCSB) Jesus said, ”So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
That is an important step to be right with God and with others we have sinned against and offended. Confession provides liberation from sin, healthier relationships, and greater appreciation for our Savior’s forgiveness of our sins.
After 30 years of marriage, my friend refused to forgive his wife for an affair that happened decades ago. She had truly repented, turned to the Lord, and was a fruitful Christian. He chose and made excuses to not forgive, to not confess his own sin, and the result was the marriage ended.
Friends, let’s be careful not to fall into this trap as the Bible warns, “He who covers his sins shall not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13 NKJV).
DIG: Do you confess your fault to others when you have sinned against them, especially if they know you’ve sinned against them? Warren Wiersbe says, “Do not hide sin or delay confession.”
DISCOVER: Confession is a humbling and necessary spiritual exercise, yet rewarding when we do it for God’s glory. 1 John 1:9 (NKJV) says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
DO: Do you need to go to someone whom you’ve sinned against? Follow Jesus’ practical advice from Matthew today! Contact that person, confess to them, ask for forgiveness. Reconcile with them. It will greatly improve your prayer life.