Difference Between Confession & Repentance

Difference Between Confession & Repentance

Like many people, I use to confuse confession with repentance. Eventually, when I thought I understood the difference between the two, I was still far from the truth. I thought confession is admitting the wrong you have done and repentance is deciding to not do it again. I was wrong!

The reason why I got these two key concepts wrong is because I got the concept of sin wrong in the first place. Therefore, I suggest that before understanding what confession and repentance are and entail, one has to first grasp the concept of sin. So, let’s get right to it. Before I say what sin is, let me start with what it is not. Sin is not the breaking of the law or rules. This is the symptom of sin. That is, when you are about to break the law, you have already sin. In other words, you break the law because you have already sinned. This leads me to say that one can sin without breaking any laws. Actually, you can sin by keeping the law or commandments. Therefore, there are two ways of sinning. You can sin by breaking the law and you can also sin by keeping the law. This is to say that although sin has a connection to the commandment, its primary focus is on something else, I mean on somebody else. What do I mean? What I mean is that sin has first and foremost to do with who God is and who functions as God in your life. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Most of us take this to mean keeping the commandments equals loving God. It’s not! If this were the case, Pharisees would have been the holiest people and Paul wouldn’t have needed to repent and accept Christ. As you know, Jesus denounced Pharisees’ hypocrisy and called them to repentance. Therefore, obedience to the law does not mean love for God. Actually, one can hate Jesus or God by obeying the Ten Commandments or being morally upright.

Let me now say what sin is. It is an inner attitude that consists in living and/or acting as though you were God. It is a commitment to living independently from God such that you become God for yourself. It is, at the same time, an act of rebellion against God because you deny his authority over you and an act of idolatry because you now worship yourself. As D.A. Carson puts it, sin is the “de-godding” of God. God stops functioning as God, that is, as the ultimate reason why you exist and live. You become the ultimate reason why you live. The purpose of life becomes pleasing yourself. In that regard, sin is a worldview. It is the way you view yourself and everything else around you.

The story of Adam and Eve is quite illustrative of this definition. Let’s make it clear from the outset that Satan’s temptation to our first parents was not about leading them to deny God’s existence. That wouldn’t have worked because they knew for sure that God exists. It wasn’t either about denying the power of God. No, they knew God created them and that He is powerful. It was about God’s character. That is, Satan wanted them to question God’s character with the implication that their commitment to God would be altered. Unfortunately, he succeeded in doing so.

The temptation was suggesting that God is not a trust worthy person because he prevents you from eating the fruit, knowing that if you eat the fruit, you will not need Him anymore because you will become just like Him. God will become irrelevant or at best useful, but not inevitable. So, if you become like him, you will not need Him anymore. You will become independent. You will no longer need him to tell you what is right and what is wrong because you will figure it out on your own. You become the Law for yourself and thus you could live for yourself. That
Becoming independent does not necessarily mean you will not need God’s help. It means God becomes optional. You deal with Him on a "as needed" basis. And if you opt in for God, He can at best be used as a means to an end that you decide for yourself. This is because the one who decides the "end" is the one in control. That’s why some people obey God thinking that the way they can get Him to do something for them. Obedience is the thing that makes the means functional so the desired end can be reach. That's why we see a lot of commitment to keeping the rules and principles such as sowing a seed, giving, forgiving, fasting, praying, and so on.

In short, the root of sin is lack of trust in God with the implication that you trust yourself. Sinning is trusting yourself instead of trusting God. This is also referred to as self-centered life.

Having defined what sin is, let’s now define confession and repentance. Actually, we will do this next week. Stay tuned! In the meantime, feel free to live a comment. Please, do not hesitate to subscribe to my blog.

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