The necessity of confession...

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(David) If there's one verse in Scripture that continually gives me hope in my Christian life it's the verse that brought me alive in Christ twenty-five years ago,

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Reading this verse in an Alaskan dorm room as a summer missionary struggling with an increasing awareness of the depth of my sin, I wondered if its promise was singular and repeated for emphasis, or dual. In short, is the "cleans(ing) from all unrighteousness" promised by God to those who confess their sins simply a restatement and amplification of His forgiveness, or is it the promise of a further work by God, a commitment to sanctify, in addition to justifying, those who confess their sins to Him?

I suspected the latter, and in that hope I began a nightly prayer of confession. Frankly, I'd come to the place in my spiritual life that Scripture's assurance of forgiveness wasn't sufficient to keep me pursuing God. If God's power couldn't help me actually overcome the sins I increasingly despaired of in life, a fruitless promise of forgiveness meant little to me. I wanted results, evidence of power, not just words.

So I started going on evening walks in the Alaskan countryside during which I would list the sins I was aware of committing during the preceding day. And as I walked, God cleansed me, changing my life so dramatically that within weeks my prayers were as filled with rejoicing as with repentance. For the first time (as a man two years into an M.Div. program!) I tasted personally the power of God--specifically His power to give me victory over temptation and sin. Once I saw that God could deliver me from the enslaving sins of my life I was completely convinced He would further forgive me those sins.

I've learned since that many commentators hold the same view of 1 John 1:9 that I came to in Alaska--that its promise is two-fold, first the promise of forgiveness, then the promise of personal victory over sin as well: sanctification in addition to justification.

To this day, if there's one fact and hope I cling to, it's that confessing my sin to God is the ground of my every blessing. When I confess my sins to Him, God gives me health. When I hide my sins, my bones decay within me.

If you struggle with sin why not test God in this? Confess your sins systematically, rigorously and in the hope of faith and you will see the power of God unleashed to remove those sins from your life.