Basic Christianity: Confession

Today’s post is part of a series to help us take what we learn on Sunday into the rest of the week. These posts summarize the main points from the week’s sermon and include questions for continued reflection and prayer. The posts in this series are written by members of our church’s Adult Christian Formation team.


This past Sunday, our service theme was “God Changes Us.” Pastor Bobby preached about how confession leads to freedom from the text 1 John 1:8-2:2. The main message of his sermon was that confession of our sin and repentance will transform us as a result of Christ’s work.

People in our society want and need confession. We all need a place to be real and confess who we are. Unfortunately, most people don’t see the church as that place. Too often, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer says, “the pious community permits no one to be a sinner.”

How do we become people who practice confession and experience the freedom it brings? We can apply two principles:

  1. Own your stuff. In a previous sermon, Bobby addressed what it means to walk in the light. In these verses, 1 John expands on that reality in light of the need for confession to avoid self-deception. As Martin Luther put it, “the entire life of believers should be repentance.” If we live that kind of lifestyle, we can experience a lifelong transformation that moves us away from selfishness and toward awareness of others. That starts with truly confessing our sin.
  2. Own your advocate. Christ is our advocate (2:1), and God forgives us because of God’s own faithfulness and justice enacted on the cross. Because of what Jesus did, there is no need for us to make the case for our own righteousness. We also have nothing to lose by owning our stuff. If we confess our sin, we can walk in freedom because of what Jesus did.

In Acts 7:56, we see how Stephen experienced this. He was able to forgive those who were killing him because he had experienced God’s forgiveness and saw Jesus, his advocate, at the right hand of God the Father. If we are centered on the truth of our own sin and God’s justice as experienced through the cross, we will become loving people. Confession can transform us.

Questions for prayer and reflection

How did the Holy Spirit speak to you through this sermon and Scripture passage?

In your own words, how would you explain what it means to live a lifestyle of confession?

How can you experience the freedom that comes from owning the reality of your own sin and the truth that Christ is your faithful and just advocate? Is there an area of your life in which you struggle to do this?

What might it look like to practice confession in a church as a community? In what ways could we permit each other to honestly confess that we are sinners without celebrating our own sin?

Do you know anyone who might find the message that we can own our failures because Jesus has been faithful and just to be liberating? How might that person’s life change if they accept Jesus as a savior and advocate?

How could it change your view of God as a just judge if you fully realize that the justice of God is expressed in the faithfulness of Jesus, who carried your failures to the cross? What reaction does that call for from you?