Confession Isn’t Sufficient

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Confession is critical, but it’s only the first step. Repentance is the ultimate step.

But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins. . . he shall surely live—Ezekiel 18:21

Confession is necessary, but it is not sufficient. Sufficiency is achieved only when confession is connected with repentance. You see, confession is making our sins known—to God, to wives, to trusted brothers. Repentance, though . . . repentance involves a turning: turning away from those sins; turning our backs on our old selves, on the men who committed those sins. Repentance is saying we don’t want to be those men anymore. Repentance is turning toward God. It’s a willingness to become new men, loyal followers. Confession is critical, but it’s only the first step. Repentance is the ultimate step.

Ironically, confession requires great courage, but repentance just requires a soft, willing heart. In the parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus taught that it’s not sin itself that imperils us, but rather a hard, stubborn heart, an unwillingness to turn, an unwillingness to repent. The younger son lived a life with ostensibly more sin. The older brother simply harbored resentment and jealousy. The younger repented of his sins, though; the older did not. The father welcomed the younger and celebrated his return: “for this your brother was dead, and is alive” (Luke 15:32). The father pleaded with the older to also join in celebration, to soften his heart. He would not. Without repentance, we continue in our sin. Without repentance, we continue on our own path . . . toward death. Said Jesus, “unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).

Okay, so what do we do?

That stuff that you need/needed to confess, brother . . . yeah, that. Repent of it now. Turn your back on that man, that man who committed those sins. Soften. Be willing to listen to God. Astonishingly, he’ll always let you start anew. “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19).

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