This week we will finish our short Confession 101 series. We’ve been reminded that sin is bad, everyone sins, no one else makes us sin, and that my sin is worst. Lesson #5 is that we must confess our sin to whomever we’ve sinned against.
That means that confession of sin always includes confession to God. God defines sin and disciplines sin. He is the One with whom we have to do. David once wrote, “against You, You only, have I sinned.” What David meant was that, by comparison, the stink of adultery and murder on earth didn’t compare to the stench of his offense against God in heaven. Every disobedient attitude and act is disobedience to God’s standard. We must confess our sin to Him and seek His forgiveness.
We do that at least once a week on the Lord’s day. Confession of sin to God is a regular part of our worship liturgy. But this isn’t Las Vegas. What happens here isn’t meant to stay here. We are learning to confess sin so that we would confess sin whenever we sin and to whomever we sin against. Sunday morning confession is more than practice, it is a pattern for all of our lives.
Bitterness toward your wife requires that at least two relationships be reconciled, both the vertical and the horizontal.1 Disrespect toward your boss requires at least two responses. Disobedience to parents requires at least two requests. Confess to whomever you sinned against, God and men.
We ought not to think that the gospel heals relationships in theory. Forgiveness is not an hypothesis, it is promised by the Father, purchased by the Son, and proven by the Spirit. If you blow up at your spouse and confess it to God later on in your quiet time, that’s good and you’re not done. The gospel enables us to get right with God and get it right with one another.
Requesting and receiving forgiveness from men can’t save us, but it is the habit of those who are saved. We must confess our sin to whomever we’ve sinned against.
- It’s almost impossible to reconcile the multitude of theologically precise Christians, the kind who always make sure to cross the t in total depravity, who have never actually asked their spouse to forgive them. ↩