First, the scope of your confession should be as wide as the scope of your offense. You should do everything according to God’s Word and should not take the extreme way. Do not overdo anything. Once you overdo, you will come under Satan’s attack. If you offend many people, you must confess to many people. If you offend only one individual, you should confess only to that individual. To confess to an individual when you have offended many people is to under-confess. To confess to many people when you have offended only one individual is to overdo. The scope of confession depends on the scope of offense. The scope of testifying is another matter. Sometimes you have offended one individual, but because you want to testify to the brothers and sisters, you tell them about it. That is another matter altogether. As far as apology and confession is concerned, it should only be according to the scope of the offense. We should not go beyond that scope. We have to pay particular attention to this point.
Second, our confession must be thorough. We must not hide anything to save our "face" or our interest. There are, of course, times when we have to exercise due care in the way we confess; we have to take care of the interest and benefit of others. Perhaps we only should confess that we have offended others in a general way without going into detail. If we have difficulties in making decisions in complicated situations, it is best for us to fellowship with some experienced brothers and sisters so that they can help us do the right thing.
Third, there may be times when you are unable to make the necessary recompense. However, the ability to recompense and the desire to recompense are two different things. Some may not be able to recompense, but at least they should have the desire to recompense. If one is unable to make recompense immediately, he should tell the offended one, "I want to recompense you, but I cannot do it today. Please bear with me; I will do it as soon as possible."
Fourth, the law in the Old Testament states that if the rightful recipient of one’s recompense has passed away and has left no relatives to accept the recompense, it should go to the priests who serve Jehovah (Num. 5:8). According to this principle, if the recipient of your recompense is no longer available, the recompense should go to his relatives. If he has no relatives, you should give it to the church. If you can make recompense to someone, you should give it to him or to his relatives. You cannot give it to the church for the sake of convenience. However, if someone wants to make confession but the offended party has passed away and there seems to be no opportunity to confess, he can confess the matter to the church according to this principle.
Fifth, after making confession you need to make sure that you are not condemned in your conscience. It is possible for one’s conscience to suffer repeated condemnation even after he has confessed. We must be clear that the Lord’s blood has cleansed our conscience. His death has given us a conscience that is void of offense before God and has enabled us to draw near to God. All these are facts. However, we must see that in order to be clean before man, we need to deal with many sins. We need to settle all offenses in material things as well as in other matters. But we should not allow Satan to condemn us excessively.
Sixth, confession is related to physical healing. James 5:16 says, "Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed." The result of confession is often God’s healing. Sickness often comes in when there are hindrances among God’s children. If we confess our sins one to another, our sickness will be healed.
Hopefully, the brothers and sisters will be thorough in the matter of confession and recompense. This is the way to maintain their purity. If anyone has transgressed against man, he should confess his sins to God on the one hand, and he must deal with the matter seriously with man on the other hand. Only then will his conscience remain bold. When the conscience is bold, a person can make considerable progress in his spiritual pursuit.
(New Believers Series: Confession and Recompense #13, Chapter 1, by Watchman Nee)