Confession requires humility.
If you struggle with confession, most likely, pride is the reason. Pride is an enemy of humility. The act of humbling oneself or submitting to God means that you position yourself into proper rank. You humble yourself before God when you think properly about who you are and who God is and how your sin sets you against God. Confession is that regular time you spend agreeing with God about your sin and asking God for forgiveness.
And he [God] gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6
God provides grace as the remedy for combating your sin. Confession is a continuous process of growing in humility before God and others. Practicing confession goes something like this …. You sin. God convicts you of your sin. You have a choice to agree (or disagree) with God about your sin. When you agree with God (i.e., confess your sin) you are saying the same thing about your sin as God does. You submit to God’s definition of sin and acknowledge how your sin hinders your relationship with God and others.
But God gives His grace to you.
Confession acknowledges God for who He is, the gracious forgiver of your sins, and you assume your proper rank – His redeemed child through faith in Jesus who needs ongoing forgiveness for your sin. God’s grace affords you the privilege of friendship with God. However, prideful people do not recognize their own sin as sin. They disagree with God’s definition of sin and want to live independent from God and the truth about themselves. They try to convince themselves that their sin doesn’t affect their relationship with God or others and often rely on their own abilities and resources believing God will somehow be impressed by them. God’s grace is given to the humble, not the proud. Humble people recognize their need for God and when they sin, they confess their sin to God and ask Him for forgiveness. They submit to God in their relationship by accepting God’s definition of sin and believe living dependent on God is their proper place which ultimately brings peace and abundant life to them. Humble people allow their lives to bring honor to God because they rely on God’s grace to overcome their sin. God’s grace is given to humble people not because of their worthiness or merit, but because of who God is (reference James 4:4-10).
Humble people do not earn God’s grace. God gives grace to the humble.
Contrast this concept with pride that separates you from God. God opposes the proud. God’s never-ending grace is available to counter your sin. You don’t deserve or earn His unending grace. When you recognize and understand God’s grace you humble yourself before God and position yourself to receive His grace. Submission to God is your reasonable response when you consider God’s grace toward you (reference James 4:7).
Confession signifies that you submit yourself to God and you initiate coming close to God for the purpose of acknowledging your sin to Him. You agree with God that you have sinned. You submit to God’s perspective of reality and His viewpoint on sin. You could think that God would be angry with you, but He is not – God responds by coming close to you!
Come close to God, and God will come close to you. James 4:8a
God is not interested in you coming close to Him to reject or reprimand you. God knows how hard it is to battle against pride (and other sin) and live submitted to Him. In James 4, the apostle James is directly calling out Christians for their sin, but then James instructs them to “come close to God” – which is probably the last place you want to be when you know you have sinned against God. But God wants to give you His grace when you have sinned – so come close to God and confess your sin.
James teaches these Christians to acknowledge their sin and their divided allegiance between sinning against God and submitting to God. Although it’s an ongoing battle, they can remain faithful in their relationship with God through humbling themselves before God. God longs for you to come close to Him. God wants you to acknowledge and own your sin through confession without worrying that your relationship with God is in jeopardy. Your relationship with God is secured through your faith in Jesus – it’s forever eternal.
However, in James 4:7, James identifies pride as a characteristic of Satan and this world, but also teaches that pride could be a sin of Christians who do not submit to God. God opposes or sets battle against the proud. But God gives grace to the humble. God knows this struggle with pride exists for every human being. Pride is demonstrated when Christians are unwilling to submit to God through confession of their sin. When you sin, practice confession regularly. James 4:8-10 provides instructions for this process.
Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. James 4:8-10
God already knows your sin. However, these outward actions or observable expressions of “washing, purifying, tears, sorrow, deep grief and “sadness” are ways to acknowledge what your sin is doing to you and to your relationship with God. Your sin sets you against God and robs you of the peace God offers you and the abundant life He has promised you. God responds to your sin with His grace! God’s grace is not earned. God freely gives His grace to the humble. After James instructs Christians to express their repentance and confession of sin, he concludes with “humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” (James 4:10)
Pray and seek God to identify any pride or unwillingness to live humbly before God. If you are having difficulty with identifying pride in your life or confessing your sin to God, read Psalm 51. Put yourself in the position of David, the writer of Psalm 51 – you sin, like David – own your sin against God and confess it. Come close to God. Receive God’s loving embrace and His unending and underserved grace that God freely give to the humble. As you draw close to God, He will draw close to you. As you humble yourself before God, confess your sin to Him, admit your need for His forgiveness, He will give you His grace and lift you up!
Watch the LIVE REPLAY to explore how God’s response to our confessed sins reflects His boundless grace. Join us LIVE every Monday at 3 p.m. ET on @GodGivesCourage Instagram for our Spiritual Growth Series and check back here on Tuesdays for the companion blog post.