Confess, Apologize, Ask Forgiveness–What’s the Difference?

Over the years, after coming clean with my wife and working with other men who want to make a change in their marriages by dealing with hidden sin and its consequences, I have found time and again that folks don’t know the difference between asking forgiveness and apologizing, or just telling a story and confessing sin. I think it is extremely important to use the right words and phrasing when working on reconciliation with someone you have sinned against. Using specific words and asking specific things transforms your thinking, and very much indicates whether or not you are taking Personal Responsibility for your sin.

As an example, I could go to my wife, take her hand, look her in the eyes and say, “Honey, I need to tell you…yesterday I went to a pornographic website and watched movies for a couple of hours.” It is surprising how many men think that qualifies as a confession, and they expect to hear, “I forgive you,” as a response. On the contrary–I did not even confess to my wife, much less ask her to forgive me! I just gave her a recital of facts.

I look at 1 John 1:9 and the word used for “confess” is ὁμολογῶμεν. The definition/connotation of that Greek term, per Strong’s, is “to say the same thing as another, i.e. to agree with, assent”. It means you agree with God or others regarding what you have done. That goes way beyond just stating what was done. A confession would be, “Honey, I know it was wrong, but yesterday I downloaded and watched a pornographic movie. I betrayed your trust and sinned against you.”  That states what was done and agrees that it was a sin. 

It does not apologize or ask forgiveness for what was done, so it should not expect an “I forgive you” as a response (even though God says he is faithful and just to forgive our sins if we confess them to him). 

Speaking of an apology, what is the difference between apologizing and asking forgiveness?

An apology is saying you’re sorry, such as saying, “I’m so sorry!” Or “My apologies!” when you accidentally run into someone while walking through the store. It is not tied to sin, since an apology does not express having committed one. “Sorry” is an even more dangerous term when dealing with sin because too often it means “I wish I hadn’t done that; I don’t like the backlash.” Sometimes it just means, “I’m sorry I got caught. I’ll be more careful next time.”

Asking forgiveness combines confession and asking someone to forgive you for sinning against them. For example, “I downloaded a porn movie and watched it yesterday. I know it was very wrong of me to do so. I sinned against you, and betrayed your trust by committing adultery against you. Will you please forgive me?”

Can you see the difference?

So why is the correct language important?

Being intentional in thought, language, action–everything– is a huge part of breaking free from bondage to sin. 

And repairing broken relationships. 

And building trust. 

And brokenness.

Using specific, intentional language requires that you think about what you say, which over time helps to renew your mind. It is a big part of taking Personal Responsibility for your sin, acknowledging that you have hurt others and damaged relationships by your actions. Over time, when you are tempted to sin you will recall what you are going to have to say to those whom you sin against, and it will change your behavior.

There is more to the conversation. After confessing and asking forgiveness, you need to ask, “Is there anything else you need to hear me say?” Then, once you have gone through everything that needs to be said, ask, “How does my sin make you feel?” That will lead to another round of confessions and asking forgiveness. Keep cycling through until everything has been discussed and worked through. It takes time, but the resulting reconciliation and change in the way you think is well worth it!

In Him,

George

Advertisements

Note to Self

Dear George (note to self),

You are personally responsible for everything you do, to the God who created this universe. The Bible says every idle word we speak will be called to account at the final judgment, saved and unsaved alike.

Jesus stated very plainly that if you love him and love God, you will keep (attend to carefully, take care of) his commands. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15 “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” John 14:21 “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.” John 14:23,24

All of his commands are written down in the Bible. It is your personal responsibility to learn what his commands are, and to decide all on your own to obey him. When you choose to disobey God, that is sin, and shows a lack of love for him. Jesus was tortured and died to pay the price for every single time you disobey God.

A lifestyle of sin demonstrates that you don’t love God, and are not a Christian. A Christian is deeply convicted over sin and (as a result) changes lifestyle to stop that sin (maybe not overnight). Life is a long process of becoming sanctified, changing to be more and more like perfect Jesus. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” Philippians 2:5

So, it is not anyone’s job but your own to keep you pure. Other people can help, and the Holy Spirit is with every Christian to remind us of God’s commands in scripture. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26

God gives us all the grace (spiritual strength) we need to obey him. “Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,” Romans 1:5

At the end of it all, though, it is still an individual choice every time to obey God (or not).

Openness, Brokenness, Freedom

I have been part of Whatever It Takes Ministries pretty much since the beginning. The main motto is Open, Broken, Free, referring to how being open about sin in my life leads to my being a broken (humbled) man, free from bondage to hidden sin.

Originally, I had the idea that this was a point-in-time occurrence. I could confess everything, get all my garbage out in the open. Then I would be like some of the men I knew, who talked about an experience of being totally broken before the Lord, on my face and weeping, a cathartic instance of becoming (in one fell swoop) a broken man. All of this would set me completely free from all temptation and bondage to sin.

I did the “open” bit in 2005, when I came clean with my wife, boss, pastor, oldest brother and sister, and a lot of other people. I wept before God and my wife as a “broken” man. I did break free from the bondage of masturbation which had ruled me for 28 years. However, that short period of being open and broken did not set me free for the long term, and within a few months I started back into pornography and hiding my sin. I finally got caught almost a year later and had to start over…

So, now I have a different perspective. Open and Broken is a start, but it is not enough. Instead, it must translate into a lifestyle of Openness and Brokenness, leading to an ongoing Freedom from slavery to sin.

Openness is the theme of 1 John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” ESV‬‬. Note that it is a walk, an ongoing thing, not a point in time. Whenever I stop practicing openness, I lose fellowship with God, with my wife, with fellow Christians.

Brokenness, in my opinion, is best shown by “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians‬ ‭2:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Jesus didn’t just humble himself once, but He lived a life of doing the Father’s will and not His own (as Jesus made clear in the Garden of Gethsemane). Walking in Brokenness is decision by decision, choosing to obey God rather than sin.

Living in Openness, walking in Brokenness, perforce leads to a life of Freedom from bondage to sin.

As stated multiple times in Romans chapter 6, Jesus’ death and resurrection not only took the punishment for our sin, but also set us free from sin. If you are not a Christian, you are still a slave to sin. If you are a Christian, you have absolutely no excuse to continue a life of sin.

May God bless you and keep you, and may you live a life of Openness, Brokenness, and Freedom.

George

ADDENDUM

A couple of posts ago I talked about how I realized that I am all the things 1 Corinthians 13 says that love is not – I envy and boast, I am arrogant and rude, I insist on my own way, I am irritable and resentful. 

Yesterday it came much more clear: in light of what Jesus said are the two greatest commandments, I am not just failing to love – I am in sin!

I know most of you are saying, “Well, duh!” but I don’t think I have ever looked at it that way before. It is sin just as much as adultery and gluttony and lying and all the others that seem so obvious. In fact, if I am honest, it should be considered the greatest sin since it directly breaks the greatest commandment – to love God, and the second to love my neighbor. 

I confess (agree with God that I am in sin) and repent (turn away from my sin), and purpose to live a new life by the power of the Holy Spirit!

George

MY VIEW ON SALVATION

I was going back and forth with a friend the other day, and I think it encapsulates my bottom-line view on salvation:

(Paraphrase, starting with my friend’s question)

“How do you know you are chosen to believe in Christ?”

“Because I do believe in Christ, and I am genuinely convicted by the Holy Spirit for my sin. Otherwise, I wouldn’t care. Faith is a current thing. Not based on a date I said a prayer, but based on current, ongoing, persevering  belief in what God has done through Christ. It is not dependent on my faith to make it so, but I do have to receive His free gift and He will give me the ability to persevere to the end. I believe, from what I see in scripture, that we can reject God’s gift. Even some who profess belief and do things in God’s name are just lying – doing it for show, not out of love. I have been horribly convicted this week of how little I really love God and my family – but I still have salvation in Christ, and am determined to love and serve God instead of my own selfish, prideful, self-righteous self.”

“But it still is more than likely that I am not chosen for glory but wrath. I can not say that I am adopted just because I think I want to be. Paul, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, etc. all say that my thinking that I am saved based on scripture, works, or feelings does not mean a thing. Paul knew he had met Jesus and was given the gift of repentance, faith, life, etc. I think that I have met Jesus but I am still nothing but a hypocrite, a vessel of dishonor, as a foil to those of honor.  Just because I know I owe God worship with my life does not make me a son. I may pray for mercy but still be rejected, and God is still right, and I understand that and am trying to accept that.”

“God says He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to eternal life. All the theology and self-pity in the world doesn’t excuse your rejecting the free gift of salvation that He has offered to you. It is up to you to obey His will and be saved, or reject His will to the end and be damned. Your choice. You can’t choose to be saved, since Jesus’ death and resurrection are accomplished fact. However, God leaves it up to you to reject His gift or receive it. You can find all kinds of theological works to muddy the waters, but it doesn’t change His will or what He has done.”

Right or wrong, there it is.

Peace,

George

BROKEN? I DON’T THINK SO

“…love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or proud. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.” 1 Corinthians 13:4,5 ESV

Last Sunday, August 23, 2015, I came face to face with how little I really love God and my wife and family.

As I told some of my close friends, when confronted with how poorly I have been treating my daughter…

“Instead of humbling myself and letting the Holy Spirit rule my tongue, I spoke completely in the flesh and spewed a lot of venom at [my daughter] and [my wife]. All my pent-up selfishness and resentment and blaming others and all kinds of junk came forth. Wagging my finger at [my wife] and telling her it’s her fault I’m shut down emotionally. Telling [my daughter] she’s irresponsible and lazy and making her feel worthless. A comment [my daughter] had for me later was “I feel like you destroyed the part of me that for so long has been your little girl.” [My wife] said for the first time in all our marriage regret entered her mind and heart.

I don’t know if our relationship will recover. The only hope is for me to truly love God, and then [my wife] and my family. I am lazy, and I don’t pursue God. I don’t do the hard things. But I have to change that.”

So, am I a broken man? I guess, in the area of sexual immorality, I have brokenness in that I allow the Holy Spirit to rule over my flesh in that area when temptation comes along.

How about the verses above?

I certainly envy and boast a lot. I can’t let one of my kids be the center of attention – I have to come up with something from my distant past to prove that I am at least as good or as cool. I can’t just praise them.

Arrogant? Definitely! Rude? Certainly! I talk down to my wife, children, co-workers, just about everyone. Not consciously most of the time, though I can be cruel in doing so when I get going.

I insist on my own way often, usually through passive-aggressive means, whether at home or work. I pout, or put on the martyred look.

Irritable? Always! Especially when I get pushed to do something I don’t want to do, or when my direction is suddenly changed by other needs (unless I get to jump in and be a hero, which stokes my ego).

Resentful? I gave my wife and older children an earful of how resentful I am that I have put in so much hard work over the years to give them everything they want, only to receive ungratefulness in return. What a joke! The main thing they really wanted was ME, being engaged in their lives and eing there for them instead of running off to serve everyone else, since it is easier and more gratifying to serve outside the home, in a way more people will see.

My wife says she wants me to BE, not to DO. To BE a man of God, a man in love with God. I can see so clearly how I have failed.

Time to CHANGE!

RECONCILIATION AND SALVATION

Tom asked a question on another post, and I gave a lengthy answer which I want to repeat as a stand-alone post, because I think it is important.

Here’s what I said:

Sorry to take so long to respond. I wanted to make sure I got it right, and I am just taking some extra time to look up the verses that keep going through my mind.

First, I should be clear – being prepared for the day and the hour means being a true Christian. Salvation does not depend on anything other than faith in Jesus Christ’s atonement for my sin by His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead.

That said, James called it when he said, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:17-18 ESV)

Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) and “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart…This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

He also said, “So, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24, emphasis mine)

So, that last verse is a command, and it involves loving God (worship) and loving your neighbor. According to Jesus’ words, if you truly love Him (and by extension God), you will reconcile with others so that your worship of God will not be hindered.

John said, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20, emphasis mine).

Scripture is clear. If we profess to be Christians, and thus profess that we love God, we must live that out by doing everything humanly possible to be reconciled with others (specifically, per the use of the term “brother”, other Christians – though we are also commanded to love our enemies as well).

So, husbands, so, wives, so, brothers and sisters in Christ – fervently, doggedly pursue reconciliation as proof of your profession of faith.

As Paul says in Romans, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (That is where I don’t want anyone to make an excuse, and say, “I tried to reconcile, but he/she wouldn’t…” unless you have really, truly, before God and man, made every possible attempt to reconcile).

Blessings,

George