The Gospel Culture of Confessing Sins
Joshua Lowe, our Youth Ministry Worker, exhorts us to confess our sins to one another and how by doing so, we might be an encouragement to our youths.
When we started a new series on the Church a few weeks ago, Ps Eugene preached an excellent sermon on how the Church is a people created by the gospel. In his sermon he expounded on the gospel and the fruit of the gospel which should take root in our hearts. One of the points made was about the importance of building a gospel culture together. Gospel culture was defined as:
A culture of people who have begun to grasp what it means to acknowledge their sin, to trust in Christ’s finished work for their standing before God’s throne, and to follow him as Lord.
– Jonathan Leeman
Ps Eugene went on to say that “This culture means realising that we have been saved by grace alone and resting in Christ, assured that we don’t have to try to earn God’s acceptance through religious performance.”
A church embracing gospel culture involves many aspects, but I just wanted to write about one particular aspect—confessing our sins to one another. I believe confession of sins is one of the most important parts of developing gospel culture because it keeps us humble and helps us avoid hypocrisy while reminding us of our continual need for Jesus Christ.
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.
– Ephesians 4:25
Confessing our sins keeps us humble and helps us avoid hypocrisy
When we confess our sins to one another, we recognise and are reminded that we are not without weaknesses. Confession helps us to be humble because we concede that we are completely helpless and cannot be the people God desires us to be by our own strength. Acknowledging our sins should cause us to seek forgiveness which can only be found in Christ and the gospel. When we realise how sinful we are and confess it to others, we are stepping out of the darkness and into the light. We invite people to keep us accountable which in turn helps us to turn from our sin.
Confessing our sins also helps us avoid hypocrisy and keeping up false appearances. The word hypocrite is rooted in the Greek word hypokrites, which means “stage actor, pretender, dissembler”. A hypocrite is, therefore, a person who pretends to be a certain way, but acts and believes the total opposite.
When we are honest about our sins, we begin to show others who we really are. When we put our pride aside and start to admit who we are, we no longer need to put on a façade that tells people “I’m okay.” Keeping an appearance like this is not only exhausting but will also ruin our spiritual lives. Without being honest about our true selves, we end up deceiving ourselves and others cannot speak into our lives the way God intended. This in turn plants a seed of lies within the church body which spreads like a wildfire. Hypocrisy is a complete denial of the gospel because it is telling ourselves and others that we are good enough. Yet, the truth is we all are weak sinful people who need God’s grace.
Confessing our sins sounds hard, and it is! However we can do so because of the gospel. When we fully understand the gospel, bearing our sins openly becomes possible because we understand that we have already been accepted by God through Jesus Christ. We do not have to hide our weaknesses because our strength comes from Christ alone.
for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light
– Ephesians 5:8
How could the Gospel culture of confessing sins impact our Youth?
Being the youth ministry worker, I have also been thinking about how this gospel culture of confessing sins could impact our youth.
I cannot claim to completely understand what the youth in our church go through, but I think I have some things in common with our youth. I also grew up in the church from a Christian family and was generally a good obedient child from an Asian family culture.
From my own experience as a youth growing up in the church, I don't think I ever heard any adult in the church confess their sins. The aunties and uncles in the church rarely admitted to any sin let alone willingly confessed them; perhaps only the “respectable” sins.
As a result, my idea of being a Christian meant living a good godly life. The part of the gospel that spoke about sin was not relatable because everyone in church seemed to not have any problems with that. As a result, I slowly became hypocritical in my attempts to “save face” and appear godly. This was how I understood Christianity.
Although it is true that Christians should exhibit Christlikeness, this is only achievable through the gospel. We must first acknowledge our weaknesses before we can boast in the gospel. If we don't do that then it is very easy to boast in ourselves and we then miss the whole point of the gospel (in fact this attitude is anti-gospel).
So why not reach out to a youth (or anyone in the church) this week and share how you're struggling with sin, or even just a prayer request? I'm sure they will appreciate your genuineness, and this is a great opportunity to proclaim the gospel. Just like the diamond on the black felt, the darker we understand our sin to be the brighter the gospel shines.
I also personally struggle with confessing my sins. It is easier for me to want to keep up the appearance that I am a “good Christian”. The truth is, I am deeply sinful, and often try to hide it. I need God’s grace and the gospel as much as anyone. As I write this, I am reminding myself that I too need to continually practice confession and repentance, and I invite the church to ask me tough questions to give me the opportunity to confess my sin.
Let’s strive to be a church who actively confess our sins and show our weaknesses, seeking to repent, because in doing so we magnify God’s amazing grace to us in the gospel. Let’s strive to be a people made by the gospel, for the gospel.