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

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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

WIT ALIVE!

WIT Alive! is coming, June 5 in Tampa and July 10 in Indianapolis:

WIT ALIVE Singles Conference Overview

A Life-Changing Conference for Singles!

During the past several years, Paul and Jenny have had the joy of speaking to thousands of young people across America. They have watched as many of these same young people find “Mr.” or “Miss Perfect”, but are soon sitting before them in tears, disbelief, and hurt. They are searching for answers to issues they are facing in their marriage that they never expected to encounter. As the Speeds began to counsel these young couples, they thought of how much heartache and damage could have been avoided if only these couples had learned certain truths BEFORE they married and not after. Thus, the idea of “WIT for Singles” was born!

“Whatever It Takes!” Singles Conference promises to be a life-changing, world-altering weekend! We will dig deep into our hearts and souls to expose all the hidden lies and strongholds that have kept us from becoming the person God has created us to be. The goal of this conference is to help you identify the areas of your life that need God’s wisdom and understanding applied to them. Not only will it prepare you for marriage, but it will prepare you for Life! You, by the grace of God, will never be the same!

Conference topics include:

  • Love God, Live Life!
  • Openness and brokenness
  • Exposing lies that shape your thinking
  • So, who is your “real” enemy?
  • How to throw your bags overboard!
  • Hanging on when you should be letting go!
  • Moral purity in an immoral world
  • How do you find Mr. or Mrs. Right when everything is wrong?
  • …and much more!

Attendees must be 17 years of age or older.

Florida Registration

Indianapolis Registration

Paul & Jenny studio one to oneSince 2005, Paul and Jenny Speed have had the joy of speaking to thousands of young people across America. They have helped many of these young people find freedom in their lives and a deeper love for God. The Speeds hearts’ desire is to equip young people by giving them the tools they need to walk in freedom and truth, and to empower them to be world changers! Out of this desire “WIT for Singles” was born!

Testimonies:

“I came here blaming so many people for my anger and bitterness and now realize my need for personal responsibility. I have realized that the very people I have blamed are the ones I need to ask forgiveness from.”

“I was blown away by the honesty! I expected to meet all these “perfect” people who were holier than thou and was surprised to see people being so real and transparent.”

“I came here knowing that there were things in my life that I needed to take care of.  I’m ready to go home and confess.  I hate my sin!”

“Praise Jesus for all the ways I have found freedom and growth through this weekend.”

“I have learned this week that I must be 100% open and broken to have victory. WIT has changed my life forever! You guys rock!”

“Thank you for investing in my sons this past weekend. You guys are awesome!!!
All three were so grateful to have a place to go where Christ is glorified and practical help in solving sin issues was the norm. Thank you so much for being real and relatable.”

“I want to thank you for sacrificing your time and energy to do the singles conference! My life truly has changed from living in bondage of fear and unbelief which was the root of a lot of other sin in my life. I am AMAZED over and over at God’s amazing grace and how ‘my chains are gone and I’m set free. My God my God He ransomed me, and like a flood His mercies reigns, unending love, AMAZING grace! He is Forever mine!!!!’”

“I just wanted to say THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!! I attended the Singles Conference this past weekend and was blessed VERY much by it. :) It was definitely life-changing!”

“This weekend was way more than I expected. God showed me so much about how to identify and break the chains of bondage and lies. It was a HUGE encouragement to meet other singles my age who share the same beliefs and values regarding Christ and relationships! Sometimes it feels like I’m the only one, but now I know there are many more of like faith and we are continuing to keep in touch and support each other. Thank you, Paul and Jenny, for teaching us so much and bringing us together!