Question:

I am a born again Christian, but I have many problems since I was raised by different people from among my relatives (uncle, aunties, grandpa, etc). I find myself different from others in a bad way mentally and in behavior. This feeling continues to disturbed me. It was about ten years ago that I met my Saviour and became born again, but after a few years I became a backsliding Christian. I was lonely and longing to have a girlfriend to be by my side. I got a girlfriend and we fell into deep sins involving in sex, which lead to two abortions. Now I came back to Jesus, repenting and decided never to leave him again.

The problem now is whether I should confess my sins to the congregation or not. I have a problem attending church services because I feel small among the congregation and I feel terribly shy. I feel unworthy to be among them, even though I regularly attend church services. But this feeling always pinches me. I ask myself if I confess my sins to the church member will I still have a courage to attend the church services or I'm also afraid that it will simply give me a stigma unnecessarily, since I was well known as a fool since my childhood till now. Even though my transgression disturbs me much but what disturbs me more is what and who I am because I am a stupid boy. I tried many times to find whether Jesus ever saved stupid people, but I haven't found it. This is the biggest problem I have.

I want to go to church like people who are confident but I'm scared to look at the people. When I sit, I sweat the whole service. I don't even have the courage to turn and look around. How can a person like me have the courage to stand among the congregation and confess his sins?


Answer:

Nowhere in the Scriptures is confession restricted to standing before a congregation to admit your wrongs. It is a way in which confession can be accomplished, but I know of no passage which states it is the only way.

The purpose of confession is to face the fact that we sinned -- that we are not going to hide from that fact. Unacknowledged sin destroys us internally. "When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was turned into the drought of summer. I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," and You forgave the iniquity of my sin." (Psalms 32:3-5). Confession is made to the ones we harmed by our sins. Since all sins are against God, the first and most important confession we need to make is to Him.

"This is the message which we have heard from him and announce to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and don't tell the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we haven't sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us" (I John 1:5-10).

Often the one in sin realizes how badly his sin affected his relationship with God and so he desires the support of his fellow Christians in approaching God. You can see this with Simon.

"Now when Simon saw that the Holy Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, saying, "Give me also this power, that whoever I lay my hands on may receive the Holy Spirit." But Peter said to him, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart isn't right before God. Repent therefore of this, your wickedness, and ask God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity." Simon answered, "Pray for me to the Lord, that none of the things which you have spoken happen to me"" (Acts 8:18-24).

This is why we read in James: "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16). That is why we allow opportunities for people to come before the congregation. It is so others can pray on the behalf of the sinner that God will forgive them.

But along with that we realize that our actions impact other people. When our actions harm someone else, we should approach them to admit our wrong and ask for their forgiveness. The goal always is to get a person to turn from their sins. Once the person repents, the matter is dropped to minimize the embarrassment caused by sin. That is why you see in Matthew 18:15-17 that a problem between two Christians is not immediately brought before the church. Attempts are made to work out the problem with the minimal number of people involved as possible. It is only when the matter is not resolved that it is taken before the church.

I don't know how many people at your congregation were aware you fell away. I assume that you stopped going to church when you were sinning and just recently returned. Your return is a non-verbal admission that you were wrong and that you have changed. But if you were pretending to be a Christian while you were committing fornication, then how do the people aware of your sins know that you have changed? Confession to those that know is a way to let people know you have changed paths, so they won't hold your past against you.

While a public confession is not required, notice that your reasoning is off. You are reluctant to tell people of your sins because of you want to preserve your pride. Pride is not something that Christians strive to have. "But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6).