A = Adoration – praising God for His attributes and character
C = Confession – of sin
T = Thanksgiving – for what God’s done
S = Supplication – praying for myself and others
But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 1 John 1:9 NLT
The word confess in 1 John 1:9 is from a compound of two Greek words that mean “to say the same thing” or “agree with”. It means we agree with God and/or say the same thing about our sin that God says.
When I was a born, I became the child of my parents and inherited two “ships” from them; a relationship and fellowship. My relationship with my parents was established at birth and there is nothing I can do to change it. I will be their son eternally. I could run away from home, disown them, change my name or do any number of things, but I can’t change the fact that they’ll always be my parents.
Fellowship however is about intimacy and closeness. I like to picture it like 2 fellows in the same ship going the same direction. It’s like two people in a canoe; when they’re paddling in harmony there’s unity in the boat and you can guide it through the roughest waters. But if you’re paddling against each other, there’s no fellowship or harmony.
There were times in my life when I paddled against my parents and their desire. There were times when it was like I jumped out of the boat and tried to swim away from them because I didn’t want to obey or follow their directions for my life. In a small way, that’s a picture of sin. It’s when we paddle against God or jump out of the boat so we can go our own way instead of His.
The way I restored fellowship (or got back on track) with my parents was usually to admit my wrong and tell them I was sorry. And in cases where needed, I had to make restitution as a part of my apology.
Confession of sin is deeper than that, but I believe there are some similarities. When a person is “born again” or experiences what the Bible calls the new birth by believing in and receiving Jesus Christ as their Savior, I believe they gain a personal relationship with God and fellowship with Him too. It’s not because of anything they’ve done, but it’s the result of choosing to trust what Jesus did for them by faith (Titus 3:5-7, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 3:23-24).
My relationship with God was secured as a part of His family when I trusted Christ (John 1:12, Romans 8:15). My personal belief is that once you’ve been born into God’s family, you can’t be unborn. My relationship as a child of God is established the moment I trust Christ and no one can take that away, but I also believe there will be evidence of it in my life.
When I put my faith and trust in Christ I was judicially forgiven of all my sin; when I stand before God after I die I will stand before Him justified (Romans 5:1) and will not be condemned (Romans 8). All the requirements God set have been met by Jesus Christ and He is the substitute for me; He paid what needed to be paid so I don’t have to face God’s judgment for my sin when I die.
However, I still sin as a follower of Christ, but salvation and grace do not give me a license to sin (Romans 6:1-2). In fact, if you’re always looking for loopholes so you can justify some sin, you better apply 2 Corinthians 13:5 to your life.
When I sin, I think of it like being in that ship (canoe) with God. My relationship with God was secured because of my trust in Christ, but my fellowship (closeness – intimacy) is hindered or broken when I choose to sin. To restore that intimacy, I need to confess (agree with God) my sin and ask forgiveness. And since sin is relational, I need to make sure I’m also asking forgiveness and making restitution to anyone that was impacted by my sin (Matthew 5:23-24).
And by the way, I’d much rather be in the boat with God, paddling in harmony with Him than paddling against Him. Genuine confession should help me consistently evaluate how I’m doing when it comes to loving God and loving people which is what Jesus said was most important (Matthew 22:36-40).
Wow – that was a lot longer than I intended, but I hope it sparks some discussion or questions you begin to deal with and consider.