Dear professing Christians, there is power over sin only in confession. You cannot overcome sin through different means because there are no other means. Don't fool yourself. If you hide the horrible things you have done from the people you have hurt, God cannot and will not bring you healing, no matter how hard you try to ease your broken conscience. I bet you've heard about "repentance." Well, true biblical repentance from sin is our subject today. The Greek word for repentance, "metanoia," means "to change your mind." But when it is applied to God, it means to turn away from a chronic lifestyle of sin to a chronic lifestyle of righteousness. And it isn't only a change of a mind-attitude, it's a change in the direction of one's life. What I mean to say is, a true Christian will display a chronic lifestyle of righteousness through repentance, not a chronic lifestyle of sin. Paul says, "You have been set free from sin and have become slaves of righteousness" (Romans 6:18). The verse that I think best describes the effects of true biblical repentance is 1 John 3:9, which says, "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning because he has been born of God."
Now these verses don't mean we as Christians are somehow sinless and that we can't fall, for "though the righteous man falls seven times, he rises again" (Proverbs 24:16). It means that true believers cannot commit sin without feeling such a tremendous weight of guilt on their conscience they just want to confess what they have done (see Acts 2:37-38; 1 John 1:8-10). The confession just wants to fly out from their lips. They cannot keep it in. They don't want to keep it in just to save their reputation. They have to confess. That's repentance. They cannot live in a habitual lifestyle of sin because God makes them confess. This is what it means to be "born of God," to receive a new will. Confession is the doorway to repentance. Do not be deceived! There cannot be repentance without open confession to the one you've wronged! Only those who "openly confessed their evil deeds" received the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:18). Only those who "confessed their sins" were baptized by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:16). There is a reason the first words that came out of Jesus' mouth when he started his ministry were "The time has come, the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the gospel! (Mark 1:15). Only when a sinner repents and confesses their sin does God forgive their sin, for it is written, "If my people...repent from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin" (2 Chronicles 7:14). You know, some professing Christians are great at words, but they fail in action. They do all the talk, but they cannot walk the walk. But if you are a true Christian, and if you are led by the Spirit, you will not stay in your lifestyle of sin and you will repent. I don't know about you, but I feel sick when I roll in the mire of sin. I can't live bathing in mire for long because God brings me to repentance. But if you can live in the mire without any prickle of conscience, and if God does not bring you to true biblical repentance which involves confession, then I sincerely doubt your Christianity. Don't try to weasel out of the confession aspect; you only fool yourself and shun your only cure. "A tree is recognized by its fruit" (Matthew 12:33).
Sin kills. Sin hurts. Sin has broken my heart many a time. I am sin. I am a sinner. You are sin. You are a sinner. You know, we tend to think of "sin" as some outer thing attacking us, but we fail to realize that WE ARE SIN. Sin isn't outside of you, it is you! You are the sinner. That is why sinners find it a reason to rejoice at the gospel of forgiveness, at the good news of God's grace. In a real sense, God saves you from yourself, sinner. God has provided the means for forgiveness, and it is Jesus Christ. Only one drop of his blood is enough to pay for the sins of every human being who comes to him in repentance. What he did for you is MORE than enough. So be reconciled to him. Start by confessing your sins to those whom you have wronged, and pray to be reconciled in their eyes. I know, sometimes your sins can be so bad that men will not be able to forgive you, and you should be prepared for that. But confess anyway. I want to tell you that sometimes it won't turn out as you had hoped, but you will still set yourself free. Sometimes people cannot forgive because the effects of sin will remain forever (for example, God forgave David's adultery, but God still killed David's child as punishment for impregnating the woman). You must know that you will reap what you sow, but you will be forgiven by God, and you will live at peace with yourself, and perhaps even with those whom you've wronged. Take the leap of faith. You will pay the price for what you've done, but you will gain your soul. It is worth it.
I want to leave you with the prayer of Solomon, who understood the connection between true biblical repentance and forgiveness. "If they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captivity and say, 'We have sinned, we have done wrong and acted wickedly' and if they turn back to you with all their heart and all their soul in the land of their captivity where they are taken, and pray toward you...may your eyes be opened...may you hear the prayer your servant prays" (2 Chronicles 6:18-20). So, servant of God, I urge you to pray to God. Confess. Repent. I exhort you to confess, and God will heal you from your captivity and, if he wills, reconcile you with those whom you have wronged.