A THOROUGH CONFESSION OF SINS
Following repentance, you need to make a confession of your sins. You have to confess all your sins before God. First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This forgiving, this cleansing, depends on our confession. We have to make a thorough confession. Someone may ask what sins are. This is a real problem. How can we define sins? Verse 4 of chapter 3 says, “Everyone who practices sin practices lawlessness also, and sin is lawlessness.” What is sin? Sin is to transgress the law, to break the law. Any kind of transgression of the law is sin. In the Scriptures there is the law, which includes not only the Ten Commandments but many bylaws and regulations. The Ten Commandments do not tell us to love our neighbor as ourselves, but this is an item of the regulations with the law; it is a part of the law. If you do not love others, you are breaking the law. This is a sin. Any kind of transgression of the law is sin.
In the Ten Commandments there is a commandment that says we must honor our parents. Have you always honored your parents? Do not think that as an old person I am condemning the young generation, but I do realize that today’s generation is wrong in this matter. Sometimes teenage children tell their parents, “You are too old. You do not know what is right; I do.” To take this kind of attitude toward your parents is sin, because it is a transgression of the law.
In the Ten Commandments there is another commandment that tells us we should not steal. Someone may say that he never steals from others. I do not believe you have never stolen. In actuality, you have stolen many times. Many students steal answers in order to pass their examinations. Some children even steal from their parents. There is no need for me to go into detail. You know all the stories better than I do. All those are sins. Any kind of transgression of the law is sin.
First John 5:17a says, “All unrighteousness is sin.” Unrighteousness and injustice are sin. If you are not righteous and just, that is sin. In this country, in the Far East, and in Europe, many people are not just and righteous when they go to the market. They try to get more than what they pay for. I present this simple definition to you. What is sin? Sin is the transgression of law. Sin is unrighteousness. Anything unjust and unrighteous is sin.
In order to be a proper believer in Christ, you have to confess all your sins; you must make a thorough confession. You may not consider that you are sinful, but if you desire to take care of this need, go to spend some time with the Lord. You now proclaim that you believe in Jesus, and you have made the decision for Christ. That is good. Praise the Lord! Since this is so, spend some time with the Lord. Consider all your relationships—with your parents, your wife, your husband, your children, and your schoolmates, roommates, friends, and relatives. While you are considering all these relationships, the Holy Spirit may come to you and say, “You are wrong with your parents in a certain matter. Ten years ago you were wrong in certain things with your father. You are wrong with your schoolmates, wrong with your neighbors, wrong with this man, and wrong with that man.” In addition, when many Christians check all the material things in their possession, they will find out how many sinful things they have. In order to be a living, proper believer in Christ, you need to have such a dealing, such a confession to confess all your sins before God.
When we go to help others, we have to pray much. We ourselves first have to be cleansed by confession. Then we will have the ground and will be in the atmosphere to help people to realize their need for cleansing. By the grace and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, we will be able to help people to realize that they need this kind of confession. Why are so many Christians dead? It is because they have so many old sins. The old sins still remain within them. They have to confess all those things away. Every believer needs a confession of all his sinful things before God and a clearance of his whole life.
CONFESSING THE LORD JESUS BEFORE MEN
Believers also need another kind of confession, not only the confession of sins but the confession of the Lord. They have to confess the Lord Jesus before men. From now on, you must confess, you must tell others, that you belong to the Lord. Now you have become a Christian, a believer. Confess the name of the Lord Jesus, and confess before men that Jesus is the Lord and your Savior. Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” We confess Jesus as Lord with our mouth.
It is very strange that throughout the whole earth—in the East and in the West, in Europe and in Asia—people have a feeling of shame when confessing Christ. If someone says, “Now I believe Christ; I confess Jesus is Lord,” there is to some degree the feeling of shame. It is also very strange that when people follow Confucius and tell others about it, they have a feeling not of shame but of boldness. This sense of shame comes from the devil, Satan. We have to fight the battle by the grace and mercy of God to overcome this feeling of shame. Sometimes in the past I told Satan, “Satan if you keep giving me this feeling of shame, I will shout my confession.” The devil is frightened by this, and he runs away.
The proper believing in the Lord Jesus includes the step of telling people that from this day you are no more an unbeliever. From today you are a believer in Jesus. You have received Jesus as your Savior and as your Lord. From this day you confess that He is the Lord and that you belong to Him. After you believe in the Lord Jesus, you need to go back to tell your parents, relatives, friends, and neighbors and make a thorough confession of Christ. Young students, after you believe in Christ, you should go to your schoolmates to tell them, “Now I am different. Yesterday I was without Christ, but today Christ is within me.”
There is a need for a real repentance and two different kinds of confessions: the confession of sins before God and the confession of Jesus Christ as Lord before men. You should not try to be a hidden Christian, a secret Christian, or a nice Christian within but with no appearance without. Learn to be released by the confession of Christ before men. In China I saw certain brothers do something very interesting. You may say that this was too much, but if you were in that environment, you would realize that there was the need for it. After they were saved, some brothers put a label on their clothing that said, “I am a Christian today.” In many cases that helped them. Others would say, “Do not go to him for certain matters, because he is a Christian. Do not try to convince him, because he is a Christian. Do not ask him to play certain games or go to the movies with you, because he is a Christian.” In order to be a living, prevailing, powerful believer, you have to make a public confession of Christ before people.
(Preaching the Gospel in the Way of Life, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)