Feeling bad about something you’ve done? That’s a good start. It’s not enough to gain forgiveness, make it right, or change the behavior, but it’s a good starting point. This little explanation below might help you to understand how to confess a sin and get victory over it (in other words, stop doing it again and again!).
The whole thing begins when you do something bad (i.e. selfish, unkind, harmful, cruel, debilitating, disrespectful, addictive, etc.). God’s standard is holiness, so pretty much that dumps most of our behavior in the unholy category. Event most of the nice things we do, we do with ulterior motive–being nice to others helps our lives function better. But after we do something wrong, the need for confession begins–
1. You feel guilty. The question to ask yourself is–how does this behavior line up with God’s standard? Then you know if the guilt is from God or you mother. (Sometimes they agree on the standard.) If God says it’s wrong, it’s wrong, no matter what the government or your friends think or what great reason you can give for its occurrence.
2. You apologize for the behavior, to the person you hurt and to God. This is confession. You must call it what God calls it so you consider it in all its nastiness. Without looking at the depravity of your choices, you won’t want to change them; you will only hope to change the ramifications of your choices. Don’t make excuses about how you didn’t mean it or how you reacted to their actions out of habit. You sinned. If you don’t own it, you will continue to do it. And it will own you.
3. You ask for forgiveness. This is a crucial step for you and for the offended party. It frees you both to continue the relationship. Without forgiveness, bitterness and resentment build up, and they will destroy you.
4. You ask how you can make it right and make it right. This is called restitution. Correct the gossip, return the money, give up whatever is needed. Restitution hurts. Because it hurts, it’s a great preventative for repeating the behavior.
5. Replace the behavior with the opposite behavior. This is called repentance, a turning away from and moving in the opposite direction. In Eph. 4:25, the Apostle Paul says to “put off lying and speak truth.” Whatever you’re doing wrong, stop doing it and start doing the opposite. If you don’t replace it, you will slip back into it.
Victory! Yes, confession and repentance is a process, but it’s a process that leads to victory. Don’t take any shortcuts to repentance just to assuage your guilt. Do the work. You will reap the rewards of peace and victory in your life. You will change.
1 Jn. 1:9–“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”