Authenticity in Confessing our Sins: Inviting Christ’s Relationship

Transcript from Ps. Adam Cousins’ sermon Fruitful Confession preached on the 21st April 2024.

We are in the middle of a series called Fruitful and Fruitfulness comes from being connected to the vine and and that is Jesus Jesus. And it says in John 15, four, which is our key verse, and we’re gonna keep mentioning it each week because this is the crux of what we’re talking about.

It says, remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. me.” And so the spiritual disciplines are a doorway to being connected to the vine.

You see, in and of themselves, they don’t produce transformation or change in us. You can go through the motions and not see much change, but the key point of these spiritual disciplines is to meet with Jesus, to find out more about us, to find out more about us. provide opportunities to connect with Him.

And when we do that, it brings us to the transformative power of the Holy Spirit. It’s about being intentional. And so this is why we are going through this series, Fruitful, looking at the spiritual disciplines.

And this week, we’re shifting gears a little bit. So far, we’ve been talking about spiritual disciplines that we do individually. We observe silence and solitude or we observe prayer and fasting but this week we’re shifting gears to more corporate or or disciplines we do together and so this week we’re looking at the spiritual discipline of confession and I want it to be super practical and pragmatic and go well how does this actually look so what I want you to do is I want you to think about your week so far and go what are the things that I have done that I probably need to confess and I want you to turn to the person next to you and I’m just kidding we’re not going there we’re not doing that man some of you were like I must be one of those penny coastal churches or something I don’t know hey hey just a small jab we’re all good we’re good I take it back I really do I really do hey in all seriousness seriousness, now that you’re awake, confession, right? It’s a spiritual discipline that’s often misunderstood or undervalued, particularly, it’s been in my experience I’ve seen that.

I haven’t necessarily valued confession or seen it particularly presented in my growth. up in the church. It’s been there, but I haven’t really understood it.

See, there are many churches and denominations who really put this at the forefront of their gatherings. They’ve wrestled with this idea of confession and they’ve come to a place where they’ve actually incorporated confession very clearly into their gatherings together through… through like a general confession of the need of God’s grace.

And in some churches like the Catholic Church, they’ve even got provision for individuals to confess more specific sins in the form of the confessional to clergy. And maybe your experience has been like mine where you’ve heard or seen these certain forms of confession and you’ve thought, “Oh, oh.” know, it just doesn’t sit right with me. I don’t know about this institutionalised idea of confessing my sins.

Don’t I just need to confess with God and that’s good enough?” But here’s the thing, we shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Confession is something that the Bible clearly talks about and not just confessing to God but confessing to one another. another, because there is power and there’s healing to be had in that.

In James 5, 16, it says this, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. When we came to Christ, when we confessed our need for Him and for His grace, God dealt with our sins.

God said you are forgiven and you have eternal life, right? Our sins are dealt with. And yet the Bible clearly says we are to continue to confess our sins and to one another because there is healing to be had. You know even though those sins are dealt with what I’ve come to realise is that sometimes we still hold on to these sins.

Sometimes we just need that reaffirming that they are truly forgiven and that healing comes. Confession is a powerful caveat for Christ’s healing power. It helps us draw close to Him.

And so, confession. In Richard Foster’s book A Celebration of Discipline, which is the book that, although we’re not solely basing all of our sermons off of it, this is a book that we’ve sort of taken a leaf from and where a lot of our content does come from. from.

In his book, Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster illuminates the profound significance of confession as a pathway to spiritual renewal and intimacy with God. And I really like that. It’s twofold.

There’s renewal to be had in the discipline of confession, but there’s also intimacy that is fostered in that moment. moment. And I would add that it’s not just with God.

That’s first and foremost, but there’s also intimacy that is had between brothers and sisters. We begin to look more and more like the community of believers God is calling us to be. So how do we approach confluence? What is the mentality when it comes to the spiritual discipline of confession? So, in understanding confession, I think it’s a return to authenticity.

When we understand confession, it’s a return to authenticity. I want to remind you that confession is not a mere ritualistic act, but a heartfelt experience. expression of our desire for spiritual transformation.

It’s a return to authentic authenticity and reconciliation of our broken humanity. When we confess to God our sins, we’re not holding up walls. We’re not putting up those strongholds as we sung about.

about. We are being authentic with Christ. Every time we see Jesus interact with someone who is in a life of sin, we see him invite them into that authentic relationship.

The woman at the well who was an outcast and lived a life that was with not above her approach, he spoke to her and asked questions and invited her into that space of intimacy and authenticity. The same happened right at the very beginning with Adam and Eve. When they chose their own way and ate from the tree and disobeyed God’s law, he didn’t come in thunder rolling, condemnation, you know.

lightning bolts, all that sort of stuff. He said, “What have you done?” There was an invitation there to respond. Right? So it’s a return to authenticity.

Through confession, we confront the reality of our brokenness and open ourselves to the healing touch. of God’s love. You know, when we see God’s reaction to the woman of the world when she was open, she was honest.

You know, he called out the way she was living and she didn’t deny it. She said, “Wow, truly you must be someone of importance.” She returned to that authenticity. authenticity.

So if this is how we should think about confession, if this is how we approach it, there’s three things that I’d just like to call out about confession, hopefully to encourage you and to invite you to participate in this spiritual discipline. And firstly, I wanna talk about the power of vulnerability and accountability, which is prevalent in confession. So you can find out more about that in the video description.

See you next time. is not meant to be solely a solitary practice, but a communal one. By all means, individually, we confess our sins to Christ.

We confess them to him. But as this passage we read before mentioned, we’re also to confess this to one another. Because when we confess our sins to one another, we invite accountability and support.

support in our lives. Jesus knew we needed each other in all aspects of life and I think somehow, I mean he’s God right, he knew that in this particular area we’d need that support as well and that we would find it just easy to keep it between us and him. him.

We need to re-emphasise the importance of confession within the context of Christian community, where we can find encouragement, empathy, and mutual edification, you know, building each other up. In sharing our struggles and failures with trusted and wise brothers and sisters, we experience the transformative power of vulnerability and accountability. and the key point is In confession Being a corporate discipline.

I’m not advocating when I don’t think scripture does either The just airing out your dirty laundry at all points every moment with everyone No, it’s not helpful. It’s not fruitful and It’s not what we’re called to do It’s It’s about seeking wise and mature Christians who can walk alongside your life’s ups and downs and you can confess these things too. Because when we confess these things to one another, we experience that accountability and that freedom.

and healing. Now, here’s the thing. When I thought of confession growing up and in the church, I always thought of it just being a list of sins that I needed to write down so that I could confess it to someone at one point and be done with it.

That might be helpful. It may be. But sometimes confession, confession, it’s often about subtle sins that are in our life, that are just as in need of God’s grace and forgiveness and healing as some of the ones that we kind of see as being more overt or more serious.

I mean, sin is sin, right? And Jesus takes seriously about forgiving that sin. And we actually see the spiritual discipline of confession observed observed frequently in the, the life of our small group ministries. In these Bible studies, life groups, interest groups that we have within the church or purpose groups, I’ve been in a lot of churches and they call them all different things, but in essence, these are groups that do life together.

What they do is they gather together, they encourage each other, that’s what they do together. they seek God’s heart and His word, they share life’s ups, but as well as life’s downs. And sometimes life’s downs involve our brokenness and our sinful actions or desires.

And when you share this with someone else, when you can feel it, you feel it, you feel it, you feel it, you and take ownership of your actions, that’s where we start to come back to that authentic life. And we confess and God hears our confession and you are forgiven and there is healing to be had. Church I want to I want to be vulnerable with you.

I want to be to share some of my journey. See for me when it comes to confession I don’t know the exact number but it’s up in the high 90 percentages around there. When it comes to to confession, most of the time it’s in the form of an apology.

You know, confession, it says, confess your sins to your brothers and sisters, to one another, right? It would be easy for me to go to someone and say, “Hey, look, I have offended this person because of my pride.” and I treated them as less “because I just felt like I had the answers.” And that brother or sister is like, “Okay, God, here’s your confession, you are forgiven.” But actually, I think sometimes, in fact, what God calls us to do is to confess to that person. An apology to a brother or sister, that’s confessing, that’s owning our actions, our sin, sin. I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that I treated you that way. I’m sorry that I did this or said that. Will you forgive me? That’s confession.

And I’ve had to realise that this is actually something that I must do. I can’t just leave it and go that’s right God forgives me. God is He has forgiven my sins.

Yes, but He also calls me. to do something about it. If we are truly sorry, if we are truly repentant, then we will seek to turn the other way, to make a difference, to have that life transforming power of the Holy Spirit, who can help you to love others better.

And I tell you what, when people have apologised to me, I feel that love. I’m like, they respect me enough to come and help me. say, hey, yeah, that wasn’t on, I’m sorry.

And on a side note, I kind of respect them a bit more too. Like often the feeling is if I say sorry, I’m admitting fault and people will think less of me. Look, that might happen.

I can’t guarantee it won’t. But generally my experience has been the opposite. It’s been like, wow, what a humbling.

person.” So the power of vulnerability and accountability, it’s there. Second thing I want to mention is that at the heart of confession lies humility. Humility is a huge part of it, because it takes a certain amount of humility to confess that we’re less than perfect.

right? Or to confess that we have done wrong. But it also promotes humility in us. As we continue to reflect on the fact that we don’t have it all together, then we often see others imperfections as something that needs just as much grace.

And so we need to embrace and express our humility. dependence on God, and that takes humility. In humility, we embrace our dependence on God.

Humility, it’s the recognition of our limitations and the surrender of our pride. And here’s the thing, true humility is not just self -deprecation, like tearing ourselves down, and every single time we think about our faults in our lives. everything, we just sit in that space and go, “I am nothing, I’m a worm, like I can’t.” Like, it’s not about that.

Yes, truly understand and feel the weight of your sin. That’s a good thing. But what true humility is, is a posture of openness and receptivity before God, right? right? It’s being open and receptive to not only His correction, but also His encouragement to move forward in that moment.

When we humbly confess our sins, we acknowledge our dependence on God’s mercy and grace, and our humility becomes a fertile soil for spiritual growth, allowing God to cultivate virtue. virtues in us, such as compassion, empathy, and forgiveness within us. As I mentioned before, when we recognise that we need God’s forgiveness and we own that, we understand that we’re not the only ones who need that.

Those around us do too. And the kind of people that I like being around are those that give me grace, that give me, some slack because I’m not perfect. Those that I struggle to be around are those that just, they’ve got to mention it, don’t they? They’ve got to mention those things that I haven’t done quite too high enough standard.

I love you church. I know it’s, I’m receiving this too. because I have a tendency to look at that.

I look at things that need to be done better but I need to remember God’s grace in my life and allow that for others too. It’s good. We can be that church.

We can be those people who not only receive grace but extend that to others. It’s good. The last thing I wanted to mention is that this isn’t just a one -time thing.

It’s not just a moment. We need to embrace confession as a way of life. We need to embrace confession as a way of life.

Confession is not just a one -time we’re done. Yes, when we gave our heart to Jesus, Jesus The consequence of our sin is done. God has done it But there is growth to be had in the continual Recognition of God’s grace and mercy on our life.

It’s a continual journey of self -examination and renewal And so I want to encourage us to cultivate a habit of confession in our daily lives both both individually in our quiet times with God, but also in those moments where we just need to like confess to one another, when we need to seek forgiveness and apologise, when we need to actually go to someone and say, this is something that I am struggling with, pride, anger, all these sorts of things. Will you keep me accountable? accountable? We need to be quick to acknowledge our faults and seek forgiveness and extend grace to others. It’s a two -way street.

In embracing confession as a way of life, we create space for God’s transformative work in our hearts, leading us closer to the likeness of Christ. Confession is a way of life. a doorway to stay connected to the vine.

So as we conclude, what I wanna do is I wanna encourage you that when in confession, we don’t just rest in that space. Yes, we take a moment to recognise our sin, to recognise the weight of it. But once we have confessed, God says you are forgiven.

And there is the healing power at work in your life. And so that’s worthy of celebration. We move from that place with encouragement, with joy, with the renewed further to follow Jesus.

And so what we’re going to do, and I’m going to invite the band to come on up, is that we’re actually going to, I’m going to lead you in a written prayer of confession. And this is just a general prayer, confessing to God of our need for His grace. But what I want you to do is I’m going to take a moment, before we actually pray this, for you to search your own heart and allow God God to point out the things that you might need to confess to Him right now.

And in your heart confess to Him these sins and know that you are truly forgiven and that there is restoration happening in your heart. So would you stand with me? The words of this prayer is going to be on the screen. If you do not feel comfortable saying these words.

words, there’s no obligation. But if you would like to read this prayer of confession with me, then I invite you to join. But let’s take just a few moments to start with to search our hearts.

Maybe there’s a little bit of a difference. some pride that just needs God’s work to transform. Maybe there’s something you have sought forgiveness for, but you’re struggling to really believe that you are forgiven.

forgiven in this moment. Just receive that That grace and love that God pulls out on you. We love you God.

Would you read with me? My God, I am sorry for my sin with all my heart In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love before all things. I firmly intend with your help to sin no more and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our saviour, Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.

In his name, may God have mercy. Amen. Your sins are truly forgiven.

Watch the full sermon here