Peninsula Community Church
Pastor’s Discovery Class
Seven A’s of Confession
February 13, 2011
Matthew 7:3-5 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Matthew 18:15-17 If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
Please note that the Seven A’s contained in this study are taken from the work of Ken Sande in The Peacemaking Church
The Seven A’s of confession
To live life in community and to glorify God, serve others and grow to be like Christ we must learn to be people who know the steps to confessing our sin and offenses to God and to one another.
1. Address everyone involved and only those involved. Was this a heart sin or a social sin? A heart sin takes place in the thoughts and does not directly affect others. Therefore, it only needs to be confessed to God. But it does need to be confessed to others!
A social sin is one that involves words or actions that affect other people. When confessing these sins and offenses the confession should be directly to the person(s) who has been offended.
The guide in this, who did the sin committed affect. If the sin or offense affected only one person then go that person. If the offense affected the whole congregation then it must go to the whole congregation.
The caution here is that the circle of confidentially must be kept to a minimum and the circle should only be expanded when needed. Too often it is at this stage that we tend to talk to everyone but the person we have an offense with.
2. Avoid if, but and maybe. To avoid ruining the confession one must not use words that shift the blame to others or that appear to minimize or excuse the guilt. The word ‘if’ implies that you do not know whether or not you did wrong. The conversation may be something like this:
Obviously you are upset about something. I don’t know that I have done anything wrong, but just to get you off my back I’ll give you a token apology. By the way, since I don’t know whether I have done anything wrong, I certainly don’t know what I should do differently in the future. Therefore, don’t expect me to change. It’s only a matter of time before I will do the same thing again.
It is not surprising that little forgiveness occurs when this type of confession is made. Listen to these phrases:
“Perhaps, I was wrong.”
“Maybe I could have tried harder.”
“Possibly I should have waited to hear your side of the story.”
“I guess I was wrong when I said these critical things about you.”
“I shouldn’t have lost my temper, but I was tired.”
Dr. Tony Evans says that “if it contains an excuse, it isn’t a confession.”
3. Admit specifically – I know I must have done something so whatever it is forgive me. It is easy to hide behind vague generalities but don’t do it, Identity your sinful attitudes (pride, selfishness, envy, greed, bitterness, ingratitude, stubbornness, etc,) and sinful actions. Remember conflict is an opportunity for God to expose who we are and to bring change into our lives. If you don’t know what is driving the offense pray and God will show you what it is.
4. Acknowledge the hurt – we must acknowledge the ways we have hurt or wounded the other person. This must be done even if we have offended or wounded someone unintentionally. Where there has been pain we must acknowledge the pain that we have caused others.
5. Accept the consequences – This is a concept that is lost. Too often we ask for forgiveness to avoid the results of our sin but when we have offended another or we have committed a sin that impacts others we must accept the consequences of those actions. That is why even though a criminal may have asked forgiveness for the crime they have committed they will have to serve the time.
How can we handle this? Here are some things that could be said:
“You have every right to fire me because of what I have done, and I wouldn’t blame you if you did.”
“It will take me some time to earn the extra money, but I will see that your property is repaired or replaced as quickly as possible.”
“Beginning this evening, I will call every person I talked to and admit that my statements were not true.”
6. Altar your behavior – To be sincere in one’s confession there must be a change of behavior. Without a change of behavior there will be a question of whether or not one has truly confessed. If we continue to do the same thing over and over again and continue to ask forgiveness the power of our request for forgiveness will be nullified.
7. Ask for forgiveness but allow time. While one may ask forgiveness we must understand that the other person may not be ready to forgive so we must give them time to process their emotions and their willingness to forgive in return. There is a major difference between forgiveness and reconciliation.
In the end all of theses steps are meant to help us glorify God, to serve others and to grow to be like Christ.
The question that we must answer is there an issue that we must deal with or is there a person that we have an offense with that has not been addressed. I am not suggesting that you need to do anything now as I do not want this to be an emotional decision as I do not want this to be a false confession or a forced confession that does not come from the heart.