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Does Confessing Sin Really Work? | How To Break a Stubborn Habit #3

Though some believe humanity is capable of morality and self-fulfillment without God, we all still have habitual sins. The Christian life is about the transformation of our character and our habits. Pastor Lutzer defines four aspects of what confession means biblically. What if we are truly changed in God’s presence? 

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Transcript: Welcome to “5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer.” Thank you so much for joining us again as we continue this very brief series, entitled, “How to Break a Stubborn Habit.” We’re doing it because I’ve written a book by that title and we discovered that it is a blessing to many. It’s been of help to many. So, what I want to do is to give you a very short summary of some of the ideas that I think will help you as you seek the transformation of your character and your habits. And as we frequently mention, I hope that you’ll take time to subscribe, to follow, and to share.

If you were with us the first time, you know that I emphasized the need to believe that victory is possible. And last time we stressed the need to believe that God is good. Because, my friend, if you do not believe that God’s way is best, you’ll always hedge your bets. You’ll always make provision for the flesh. But if we believe that God’s way is best, we’re willing to leave the past behind. We are willing to close ourselves off from other options and go with God.

Well, it’s time to get to some very serious truth that I think has to be a part of every Christian’s life and experience, and that is confession. And that, of course, implies repentance. I want to help you as we look at 1 John 1:9. It’s a very familiar passage of scripture. You know it by memory. In fact, I’ll quote it:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Let me ask you a question. Have you ever prayed that God would deliver you from some sinful or stubborn habit and he hasn’t done it? That often takes place. And the reason is because sinful habits usually come in clusters. So we want some victory over this but we are not willing to deal with something over here that is connected. Because all sin in our life is connected. One sin oftentimes supports another and on and on it goes. What we’re talking about today all too briefly is what confession really means. In order to confess your sins, first of all you need to know something about your sin. You have to be able to identify a particular sin, yes, but also as best you can the whole cluster of sins that support that habit. God wants to do something very transforming.

Then what you need to know is something about confession. To confess means “to agree with God.” In other words, there’s no daylight between what I desire and what God desires. And when you agree with God, what it really means is not only that you agree that you have sinned. But you are also agreeing that God has the right to rid you of it forever. Now, of course, after you’ve confessed that sin you may repeat that sin, most assuredly, but at the time of confession, you are sincere in saying “God, I agree with you that this is sin. I also agree that you have total authority and my permission to rid me of this sin and to do whatever you need to do that it might be accomplished.”

But also (and this is critical) you have to know something about God. You’ll notice when I quoted the verse “he is faithful and just to forgive us.” You know as a Pastor, I’ve met many people who do not believe that God is faithful and just to forgive us. I think for example of a woman who had an abortion and she said that when she’s in a mall and when she sees a little three-year-old girl, and that’s what her daughter would be if the daughter had lived, immediately she is awash with guilt. Now I can understand that. But I said to her, “Have you confessed your sins?” She said, “I’ve confessed it a thousand times.” The reason she confessed it a thousand times is because she did not believe that God was faithful and just. When I explained that God is faithful and just and actually cleanses us from sin, in other words the cleansing of the conscience, and that she must accept both forgiveness and cleansing, I said “The next time you see a little three-year-old girl. instead of allowing all of that guilt to wash upon you, do something else. And that is to give praise to God that your sin has been forgiven. Your past has been put behind you. And you see in this way you are no longer constantly being dragged down by the past but you’re using your past as an opportunity to give thanks to God for his mercy, for his grace. And you end up giving him thanksgiving that the past is behind you.”

Well, my time is pretty well out and if you’ve been with us the previous times you know that we have been emphasizing things that need to happen in order to bring about a transformation of character and habits. In the first session, I stressed that you must believe that victory is possible. Second, I stressed that you must believe that God is good and that his way is best and today we’ve emphasized confession. Next time we’re going to be putting down another brick, so to speak, in a wall against temptation. I certainly hope that you join us but as for today, well, you just go with God. 

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