Why does confession really matter?

Why does confession really matter?

This is part of an ongoing series book study which complements the Thursday and Friday morning Men’s book study on prayer.  Read the other chapter discussions here.  Read along with us!

Confession of Sins: Does it really matter?

The overriding message of this chapter is our understanding of forgiveness. We do not repent in order to be forgiven. Rather, we can repent because we are forgiven. We do not repent to become children of God, we can only truly repent because we are children of God. However, this does not mean that repentance is easy, nor does it come without cost.

On pages 207 and 208, Keller tersely reminds us of the dangers of cheap grace.

 “To lose our grip on the costliness of forgiveness will result in a superficial, perfunctory confession that does not lead to any real change of heart… to lose our grip on the freeness of forgiveness, however, will lead to continued guilt, shame, and self-loathing.”

So, confession of sins is not a self-purgation, but a living into the reality of our forgiven state, where as Keller quotes Puritan Richard Sibbes as expressing this reality as making “sin more odious unto us than punishment.”

In other words, we repent because we know we have sinned against the one who sent His Son to die on our behalf. And, though we are forgiven, we affirm that forgiven state as we confess our sins and like David we load them with the truth and greatness of God’s steadfast love in scripture. This allows us to forsake sin in our heart and not simply wallow in sin-ramification-fueled-self-pity (Keller 212-215).


Questions for Discussion:

  1. What motivates you toward confession?
    1. Obviously, you can answer this question theologically and avoid confronting your own motivations. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins, driving us to repent. But, from where does your motivation come? Does it come from self-pity? Are you only sorry you were caught? Are you fearful of punishment? How likely will this kind of confession produce change?


    1. Do you grieve because you have sinned and despite your sins, you deeply realize God chose you before the foundations of the earth? Are you so humbled by his love and so conformed to His likeness that you confess out of your disdain for anything that is not in keeping with his sovereign will? What could bring you to this kind of confession? How likely will this kind of confession produce change?
  1. How can you go beyond praying about sins of which you are aware? How can we bring ourselves to a place where the Holy Spirit makes us aware of sins we didn’t know we have? Do you want to know this? Is ignorance bliss or a silent depravity? How hard would it be for you to face your unknown sins?
  2. Paul David Tripp talks about how “before sin is a matter of behavior, it is always a matter of the heart” (Tripp, New Morning Mercies, Feb 23). Can you think of examples of this?
    1. The law cannot change our heart. Are you struggling with a particular sin? Has your confession and repentance been a matter of law? Is that why you have not changed?
    2. Tripp goes on to say that no one can change another person. That includes you. You can’t change you! Romans 12:2-3

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”

Your faith comes from God, your forgiveness comes from God and the scripture above does not say transform yourself. It says be transformed. Transformation comes from God. God is transforming you. How can you better live into the reality that God is transforming you rather than trying to transform yourself? How might that change the way you look at confession and repentance?


On your own:

This week, commit yourself to the daily self-examination found on pages 218-220.




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