Peninsula Community Church
August 4, 2013
James – Confession is Good for the Soul!
James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
We are coming to the end of our study in the book of James. After this week, we will look at two more thoughts found here in James and that will finish our study. This week we will look at the power of confession, prayer for others, and the results of such actions. Next week, we will have the closing for VBS and then following that we will have a message on the value of our prayers and what constitutes righteousness. The final message will be on the value of winning souls and seeing those who are unchurched returned to the fold.
As we read this passage, we see that there are three ideas expressed. We have the confession of sin. We have the concept of praying for one another and we see the value of confession and prayer in that it brings healing personally. It is noteworthy that through this passage we see the personal responsibility of the individual but we also see the value of functioning in and through the community in which one is involved.
Let’s unpack this verse. Let’s begin by looking at Ezra 10:11 which says Now then make confession to the LORD, the God of your fathers and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.” Confession in the Old Testament was associated with a change of heart, a change of action, and a change of attitude. It is to realize that one’s current way of living and one’s way of acting is disconnected from God’s way. True confession brings liberty and freedom. It is refreshing to confess our sin and sense the release that comes from that confession.
As we look at the idea of confession we see that true confession brings God’s mercy. Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy (Proverbs 28:13). When we try to conceal our sin and hide it, we will not prosper because it effects us is so many different ways. We are affected emotionally, as we walk in fear and anxiety. We are effected relationally, as we avoid certain people because we are afraid that we will be found out. We will be effected spiritually, as we cannot walk in known sin and expect to have fellowship with him in the same way. Sin separates and sin divides. We see this in Genesis and Moses’ explanation of the fall. Conversely, when we confess our sin, we receive mercy and we are restored to right relationship with Christ and with others.
However, to be effective, our confession must be accompanied by real repentance. What is real repentance? Real repentance is an action which leads to a change of heart and a change of mind which leads to a change of action. It is here we partner with the Holy Spirit who acts as we do our part to repent. In the Old Testament, we see repentance as a military term. It is a command of “about face.” It is to turn away from one’s wickedness. Those who lived in the Old Testament were at a disadvantage, in the sense they could lean on the fulfilled work of the cross and the resurrection of Christ which empowers us to walk in confession and repentance.
While we are on this subject let me make a qualifying comment or two. When we confess, choose wisely. We need to guard who we share with. We need to share with those who are mature and can help us move toward repentance. This was Paul’s command in Galatians 6:1. Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.
Now let’s return to the second part of this passage. Here James suggests that we are to pray for one another. As in the passage, we read in Galatians 6:1 we are to bear one another’s burdens. One of the purposes and results of doing this is that our attention is turned away for our problems and we are turned toward the needs of others. In life we find that people are either givers or they are takers. Takers tend to never be happy with life. In life there is always a problem. There is always something to complain about. There is always something criticize others over. But when you are a giver, you see life differently. Even in the midst of your own difficulty you are more concerned about the needs of others. You pray for others as it brings faith to your own issues.
Praying for others builds our faith as we see God working in them. I live one of things that Michelle has done. Because our grand kids are in California and we do not get to see them as much as we would like to, she has poured herself into other kids here locally. In this way she is not as sad or disappointed about not being with our kids. As we see God work in another’s life we are encouraged and the body has the opportunity celebrate God’s work in others.
We also pray for others because it is a command of God. We are to pray for others because we are called upon by God to do so.
Lastly, here when we are genuinely praying for another person it is hard to be judgmental, critical, jealous or prideful in our approach toward them. I challenge you to try it. Pray for that person that ticks you off the most and watch what begins to happen to your heart. When you pray ask God to enable you to see them from your perspective. Ask God to help you understand where they are coming from. This will a decision of our heart as this will not come naturally to us.
In the final analysis, the result of confession and prayer for others is personal healing. It is an interesting phenomena. While we are confessing our faults and sin. While we are praying for others we are healed in the process. In part I believe this is true because we can concentrate so much on our problems that we fail to move beyond our concerns and problems.The desire of God is to build community. The desire of God is have us fellowship as one body in Christ.