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Joined: 2004/10/28
Posts: 66
Nairobi, Kenya

 Help! Confession vs repentance of sin

Dear beloved in Christ,
What's the difference between confession and repentance of sin?

My understanding of the Bible's teaching on repentance is that it means turning from sin. (ie. sin no more)

That's easy to understand.

But what of confession of sin?

In the three places confession of sin appears in the New Testament it seems like it's an expression of agreement and utter helplessness (ie the person is in the grip of the sin, and yet isn't hiding it), but out of that God's faithfulness forgives and brings cleansing and healing.

Something like Ps 51?

I did a brief greek word study, ie. strong's and a couple of expository websites, and I'm continuing in my search. But I would much appreciate what others think.

I'm struggling with a besetting sin, and I want out.

I know that these threads can often go off topic, and that these deviations can often be a blessing.

But please oblige me and keep on topic. I do need help.

Perhaps from an experiential as well as teaching perspective.


Here are NT Scriptures on confession that I know:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1John 1:9

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
James 5:16

And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.
Acts 19:18

Richard Walker

 2005/5/27 2:10Profile

Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re: Help! Confession vs repentance of sin

There are two Greek words which have been translated as 'confess' in the KJV.

the first word is homologea and is found in
Matt. 7:23; 10:32; 14:7; Luke 12:8; John 1:20; 9:22; 12:42; Acts 23:8; 24:14; Rom. 10:9-10; 2Cor. 9:13; 1Tim. 6:12-13; Titus 1:16; Heb. 3:1; 4:14; 10:23; 11:13; 13:15; 1John 1:9; 2:23; 4:2-3,15; 2John 1:7

homologia. literaly is 'the same word'. It means to agree or acknowledge. Tyndale's translation used the word 'knowledge' as a verb in the sense of 'acknowledge'. in 1 John 1:9. 1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. To 'confess' in this sense is to 'agree with God' in his daignosis of our condition. Use words to agree with God in his verdict on your behaviour. ie call it sin. And then put your trust entirely in God for the rest of the verse! If you do your 'part', God will surely do His!

the second is exomologeo, which is 'out' added to the first. This may be a more outward, public, confession and which is translated in different ways in
Matt. 3:6; 11:25; Mark 1:5; Luke 10:21; 22:6; Acts 19:18; Rom. 14:11; 15:9; Phil. 2:11; James 5:16; Rev. 3:5

the James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. is interesting if this word does imply a more public expression.

Psalm 51 is a wonderful expression (confession) of repentance. It is good and necessary to 'express' our repentance in words. Be straight with God. Call your sin by its hardest honest title; no slips or weaknesses or failings but 'sin'. :You ask your practical advice... pray through Psalm 51 slowly and listen to your spirit. If you find a particular heart resonance, open that out to God in prayer.

Do 'business' with God rather than reciting words and receive His word of forgiveness and cleansing.Heb. 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
Heb. 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
Heb. 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

[url=]Vine's Expository Dictionary[/url] may be helpful here.

Ron Bailey

 2005/5/27 4:33Profile

Joined: 2005/5/2
Posts: 3776

 Re: Admit it

Confession means: ADMIT IT!!

We can't admit something until we are willing to see it. When we can't see it, or don't want to see it, we will cover up (unconsciously) the painful truth with denial, blaming others, excuses, defensiveness, fine-sounding retoric, good works,focus on flaws, etc etc. - like Adam and Eve's "fig leaves"

Before admitting the true nature of our heart there can be no true change of thinking and direction.

King David said, "You desire honesty from the heart,..." Ps. 51:6 NLT David didn't merely confess his wrong actions, he admitted the core of his heart, as futher discussed here:

I don't know what to say about your struggle with a besetting sin. I sure don't want to give the typical pat answers that you have no doubt heard many times. I'll never forget what I heard Bill Gothard say about that. He drew a big dot, then a circle of dots around that central dot. Each dot represented a sin. He explained that we focus on the outer sins but remain in denial about the central sin. In fact our focus on the "besetting" sins in the outer ring can be a way of denying the focal sin of our heart - our true fallen nature, which revealed in pride, self-will .... only God knows....

I could relate to that. My sins of worry, fear, bad habits, etc, was rooted in my inability to fully rest in God and his redemption.

Here's a hard question that requires a painful admission: Do we merely want to be free from the troublesome sins, or do we want fellowship with God above all else?

I know that the Spirit will work in you as you let him do whatever he wishes in your life to bring about an inner transformation and draw you to himself. Bless you.



 2005/5/27 6:40Profile

Joined: 2004/10/28
Posts: 66
Nairobi, Kenya

 Confession means: ADMIT IT

He explained that we focus on the outer sins but remain in denial about the central sin. In fact our focus on the "besetting" sins in the outer ring can be a way of denying the focal sin of our heart - our true fallen nature, which revealed in pride, self-will .... only God knows....

Thanks Diane and Ron,
Thanks for stretching this beyond definitions into application.

What you've just said is rather discomfiting. I'm troubled by what I can see, the 'besetting' sin, but it goes far deeper than what my eyes can see.

I can't vouch for my ability to diagnose the state of my heart or the clarity of my vision.
But this is my heart cry:

"What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, "Rabbi, I want to see." Mark 10:51

Give me an undivided heart That I might fear Your name.
Psalms 86:11

My cry is that I may be free, that my heart may be one that fears God. The process, the depth, the exposure, the extent is in His hands.

Richard Walker

 2005/5/27 10:20Profile

Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re: Confession means: ADMIT IT

I can't quote it exactly but Spurgeon once said that 'desire was grace in the green ear'. He meant that the desire for holiness was the precursor of the full ear.

Where does such longing come from? Sin, Satan, self? Surely not, so you may be sure that He who sent the desire will surely send the provision.

Is. 44:3 For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:

Matt. 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Ron Bailey

 2005/5/27 11:00Profile

 Re: 'besetting sin' - a practical approach

First, you [i]can[/i] become an overcomer. Never lose sight of this. Victory may seem elusive, but by the time you have it, you will know your 'enemy' far better.

He drew a big dot, then a circle of dots around that central dot. Each dot represented a sin. He explained that we focus on the outer sins but remain in denial about the central sin. In fact our focus on the "besetting" sins in the outer ring can be a way of denying the focal sin of our heart

Not detracting from what has been said, it can be helpful to think of the 'dots' as weeds in the flowerbed. Tackle what you can see. Some will come up easily and die. While you are tackling others, others may come up again because they have are connected below the ground. Eventually, it is not too painful to get ruthless, especially if you have learned more about the circumstances in which the most obstinate 'dots' thrive. Usually by then you are ready to cry out to God in desperation for a total solution and you barely notice the colateral (damage) to your previously prized 'image'. Whatever it's costing has become a small price to pay.

Having said this, I'm not suggesting you ignore the reason for this thread. But you [i]can[/i] take deliberate steps to make it less easy to indulge and you can [i]practise[/i] changing the subject for yourself, at an earlier stage in the thought process that leads there.

It is also a help to one's praying, to be completely clear from scripture on whether it is a matter of reforming a necessary behaviour (such as eating food), or completely stopping an unnecessary behaviour (such as lying). Some things cannot be stopped completely, but, they [i]must[/i] be taken forward within a self-discipline which glorifies the Lord, before peace can settle. In the process, you will have many opportunities to consider and pray for the attitude of heart which accompanies your stuggle.

 2005/5/27 11:01

Joined: 2004/4/1
Posts: 323

 Re: Help! Confession vs repentance of sin

confessing is talking truthfully about things, sins we have done, not covering them up- it's admitting them.

It can be embarassing, but that is how God wants us to talk.

There are times when talking to my family, I have to admit shameful things I've done, even recent sins. In blindness (as a christian), I took (stole) $100 from my dad, money he said I could have, once I told him I helped myself to his stash. Even though he allowed me, I had taken advantage of him, and with conviction from God, had to return all of it at 12:00 at night, crying and apologizing. Later on, I've shared this (led by the Holy Spirit) with family members and it is embarassing to admit I had been so irresponsible.

This is just one example, the confessions go on and on, even though they are shameful, God uses confession of shameful things for His purposes, it is also very healing when deep secrets are confessed (admitted) and repented of (stop doing them). Only by God, His Spirit, through Jesus CHrist, have I changed from being a slave to sin, to one who loves to please Him, the Creator of all things. I hope my testimony helps you a little.

Speaking truthfully about our selves so personally (confessing, talking truthfully) is not easy, but Jesus does not say His way is easy.


 2005/5/29 1:22Profile

Joined: 2004/4/1
Posts: 323


Repentance is not the same as confession though.

God wants us to admit our sins, to Him, and to others appropriately, and then repent-stop it!


 2005/5/29 1:24Profile

Joined: 2004/7/7
Posts: 7463

 Re: Help! Confession vs repentance of sin

Dear fellow pilgrim,
Confession of sin is so vital in repentance. I am not so sure you can have enduring repentance without confession.

When you confess you are agreeing with others (some said admit it) that your behaviour was off the mark and that it was bad. Now that you both understand and agree it was bad, you wil be motivated to not repeat that behaviour and do different. Others will then expect this of you. This is in plain English the dynamics of confession and its result. It is in the end giving you another chance. And how many of us do not want that.

Failure to confess your sin(s) will have others thinking that if/when the opportunity occurs you will again do a repeat performance.

Confessing will hurt your pride and that is something that needs to be crucified. On the other hand to NOT confess may make life harder for you as well....perhaps harder then simply crucifying your pride.

In dealing with a besetting sin: I would suggest you bring this to the LORD in prayer as long as it is such and at some point He will deliver. I doubt he will deliver unless He can see how remorseful you are and want deliverance. It takes persistance on your part. In case you cannot tell, I am speaking from experience.

Blessings to you,

Sandra Miller

 2005/5/29 9:15Profile

Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Re: Cut to the heart

Diane, to bounce off your expression and question:

Here's a hard question that requires a painful admission: Do we merely want to be free from the troublesome sins, or do we want fellowship with God above all else?

As Tozer was want to say; "What's back of it?"

If anything at all of first importance and where it would be surely lacking in our modern day teachings of Christianity, is fully dealing with the core of the controversy, not only that we have with ourselves but the controversy with the Lord. The Lords controversy as T.A. Sparks put it.
"You desire honesty from the heart,..."

And you made perfect the issue,
Ps. 51:6 NLT David didn't merely confess his wrong actions, he admitted the core of his heart

Somewhere along the line I think there was an attempt at grappling with this here in a unrelated way that never got completed, but recall doing just a study on the 'heart' in scripture, quick check runs at 765 instances in the KJV alone.


Another word that I think well sums up what happens upon being brought into The Light or better yet, when that Light begins to shine in our hearts...and the cockroaches start scurrying about, looking for a place to hide;

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

Psa 139:7-12

For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart.
And there is no creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

Heb 4:12,13

...[b]the secrets of his heart are disclosed[/b], and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.

1Co 14:25

But Jesus did not trust himself unto them, [b]for that he knew all men[/b], and because he needed not that any one should bear witness concerning man; [b]for he himself knew what was in man[/b].

Joh 2:24,25

Certainly seems like preaching to the choir, but a wonder sometimes if we fully deal with it's truth, of being brutally honest with ourselves, with others, with the Lord.

What is peace but the absence of all that is false and only that which is true. The Prince of Peace. [u]The Way[/u], [u]The Truth[/u] and [u]The Light[/u]. [i]"And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.[/i]" Joh 8:45-47

O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. Mat 12:34

So much, in fact everything that is of any bottom line concern to me could be summed up here:

[i]For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you[/i].
2Co 2:4

Along with, if I might borrow the sentiment:

Why? Because I do not love you? God knows that I do! 2Co 11:11

All that to mean but this; That the wonder of wonders of what goes on here so very much of the time, is just a lot of honest wrestling with this in the main, Truth, Honesty, Reality. Give me those or I die, better yet the sentiment of heart wrenching honesty that comes from a guttural cry, that [i]it would be [u]better[/u] to never have been born[/i], to have no memory of anything, the only sickening alternative would be complete annihilation.

What is groaning in the spirit (in part) but a failure to adequately express all that is wrong with us, with the world, that we [i]know[/i] in our heart of hearts is just not true. [i]The creation groans[/i]... that plea for the restoration of all things.

John's words cut to the heart of the matter:

"If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."

1Jo 1:6-10

If we are brutally honest and often times [i]why[/i] the needful confrontations is the failure to recognize this in it's fullest intent. Think most of the squabbles can relate right back to this failure and a whole lot of it is just a clever attempt at dodging the issue. These newish, often times absurd 'teachings' do not fully come to terms with it and am often befuddled by that. All this exterior patch work, the whole effort of what the Lord meant in Mat 9:17; [i]"Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.[/i]

The holding to a small area of doctrine or scripture while leaving the rest, the whole to abate. It comes up often, the holding to presumptions and unwillingness or perhaps just unintential...carelessness in considering whether or not we are really being truly truthful. Are we really [i]listening[/i] or merely hearing, selectively, what we want to hear? Are we comparing scripture with scripture, Gods [b][i]WORD[/i][/b]. Does it square with the whole? Is it authentic? And maybe more profoundly, do we care if it is? Are we willing to be made mere fools, to be embarrassed, misunderstood, have our motivations checked at the core? Or to come full circle... [i]Admit[/i] it to ourselves, to each other, to the Lord?

The paradox, seemingly, is that which would set us free in an ultimate sense is often what we can be afraid of; exposure, failure, dying to our selfishness... the same exacting reality of what we attempt to do as our first 'parents' did, [i]hiding from God[/i] and by way of extension each other and ourselves. It's madness and absurdity, just as our attempt to make ourselves good when even our new born again selves know, that we know, that we know that there is still much of our miserable selves to deal with, otherwise we are in a form of denial and deception.

How much is mere fakery (even unware, unintentional) and just slightly dishonest? How much we can brush aside when it confronts us? How much do we seriously [i]consider[/i] from our own kind, our brethren, that may know a thing or two to help us? Especially those who have walked this mile a few thousand times? How ready are we with admittance [i]and[/i] repentance [i]and[/i] forgiveness?

Remember the line from that movie? (An Officer and a Gentleman?)

"You can't handle the truth!"

Could spin a half dozen analogies off of that, but the question is, can we? Or more precisely will we in fact deal with it? Likely failing and going off on a tangent in expression but it is this heart's cry in all things.

"[i]But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.[/i]"

Joh 4:23,24

Mike Balog

 2005/5/29 10:35Profile

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