Confession (Spiritual Discipline Study)

Corporate Disciplines

Confession

  • Corporate Disciplines
    • Simply put, these are disciplines that we practice in community with other Christ followers. Unlike inward disciplines that we practice alone, and outward disciplines that can be more public, but are still individual, these are public and communal disciplines
  • Confession
    • “The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works” Augustine of Hippo
    • Confession starts with the Cross
    • Love, not anger brought Jesus to the cross. Golgotha came as a result of God’s great desire to forgive, not his reluctance.
      • Mark 15:34
        • 34 And at three Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lemá sabachtháni?” which is translated, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
      • Was not a moment of weakness. This was a moment of greatest triumph. 
      • II Corinthians 5:21
        • 21 He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
      • Jesus succeeded in taking into himself all the dark powers of this present evil age and defeated every one of them by the light of His presence. He accomplished such a total identification with the sin of the race that he experienced the abandonment of God. Only in that way could he redeem sin. It was indeed his moment of greatest triumph.
      • Without the cross the discipline of confession would be only psychologically therapeutic. But it is so much more. It involves an objective change in our relationship with God and a subjective change in us. It is a means of healing and transforming the inner spirit.
      • Philippians 2:12
        • 12 Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
      • The discipline of confession helps the believer to grow into “maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness” (Eph. 4:13
      • Confessions is  a consciously chosen course of action that brings us under the shadow of the Almighty.
  • How is it that confession is listed under the corporate disciplines?
    • I Timothy 2:5
      • 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,
      • We confess directly to God through Christ
    • James 5:16
      • 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.
      • But we also are called to confess to one another
    • Confession is a difficult discipline for us because we all too often view the believing community as a fellowship of saints before we see it as a fellowship of sinners. We feel that everyone else has advanced so far into holiness that we are isolated and alone in our sins. Therefore, we hide ourselves from one another and live in veiled lies and hypocrisy
    • But if we know that the people of God are first a fellowship of sinners, we are freed to hear the unconditional call of God’s love and to confess our needs openly before our brothers and sisters. We are sinners together. In acts of mutual confession we release the power that heals. Our humanity is no longer denied, but transformed.
  • Authority to Forgive
    • John 20:23
      • 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
    • God has given us our brothers and sisters to stand in Christ’s stead and make God’s presence and forgiveness real to us.
      • I Peter 2:9
        • 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
      • The universal priesthood of all believers
        • We are all called to be on mission of telling others about Jesus, and we are called to living in community with one another. This includes confessing to one another and helping each other through the consequences of our sin
    • Dietrich Bonhoeffer
      • A man who confesses his sins in the presence of a brother knows that he is no longer alone with himself; he experiences the presence of God in the reality of the other person. As long as I am by myself in the confession of my sins everything remains in the dark, but in the presence of a brother the sin has to be brought into the light.
    • I John 1:9
      •  9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
  • Making a confession
    • St. Alphonsus Liguori
      • For a good confession three tings are necessary: and examination of conscience, poor, and a determination to avoid sin.
    • An examination of conscience
      • A generalized confession may save us from humiliation and same, but it will not ignite inner healing. The people who came to Jesus came with obvious, specific sins, and they were forgiven for one.
    • Sorrow
      • It is necessary to a good confession
      • Sorrow is a way of taking the confession seriously
    • A determination to avoid sin
      • John Wesley
        • Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God…such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on earth.
      • We must desire to be conquered and ruled by God, or if we do not desire it, to desire to desire it. Such a desire is a gracious gift from God. The seeking of this gift is one of the preliminaries for confessing to a brother or sister.
      • It is God who is working to make us willing to seek His forgiveness
    • One further note on the preparation for confession; there must be a definite termination point in the self-examination process. Otherwise, we can easily fall into a permanent habit of self-condemnation. Confession begins in sorrow, but it ends in joy. There is celebration in the forgiveness of sins because it results in a genuinely changed life.
  • Who to confess to
    • The key qualifications are spiritual maturity, wisdom, compassion, good common sense, the ability to keep a confidence, and a wholesome sense of humor.
    • Many ministers—though by no means all—can serve in this way
    • Often ordinary folk who hold no office or title whatever are among the best at receiving a confession.
  • Being someone people can confess to
    • Dietrich Bonhoeffer
      • Anybody who lives beneath the Cross and who has discerned in the Cross of Jesus the utter wickedness of all men and of his own heart will find there is no sin that can ever be alien to him. Anybody who has once been horrified by the dreadfulness of his own sin that nailed Jesus to the Cross will no longer be horrified by even the rankest sins of a brother.
    • Once we see the awfulness of sin we know that, regardless of what others have done, we ourselves are the chief of sinners.
    • Therefore, there is nothing that anyone can say that will disturb us. Nothing. By living under the cross we can hear the worst possibly things from the best possible people without so much as batting an eyelash.
    • It is important that wen others are opening their griefs to us we discipline ourselves to be quiet. We will be tempted Beverly to relieve the tension of the situation by some offhanded comment. This is very distracting and even destructive to the sacredness of the moment. Neither should we try to pry out more details than are necessary. If we feel that out of embarrassment or fear they are holding something back, the best method is to wait silently and prayerfully.
    • It is extremely important that you pray for the person and not just counsel with them. Before or during the prayer we should announce to them that the forgiveness that is in Jesus Christ is now real and effective for them. We can say this in words and tones of genuine authority for we have all of heaven behind the absolution. (John 20:22, 23)
  • Honesty leads to confession, and confession leads to change. May God give grace  to the Church once again to recover the discipline of confession.

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