New Believers Series: Confession with the Mouth #8, by Watchman Nee


A. Replacing Confession with Good Behavior

Some new believers are influenced by traditional teachings. They think that having good behavior is the most important thing for a Christian and that confession with the mouth is not that crucial. They think that a change in what one says is not important, but that a change in what one does is important. We must correct this wrong concept. We are not saying that it is not necessary to change our conduct. If one’s conduct is not changed, it is useless to confess with the mouth. But changing what one does without confessing with one’s mouth is equally futile. A change in conduct can never take the place of confession with the mouth. After one’s conduct is changed, his mouth still has to confess.

Every new believer must seize the earliest opportunity to tell others about his faith in the Lord Jesus. If you do not confess with your mouth, others will make many conjectures about you. They will try to explain your behavior with speculation. They will say all kinds of things about you, but they will not touch the Lord Jesus. Therefore, you must tell them the reason for the change in your conduct. No good conduct can take the place of verbal confession. It is necessary to have good conduct, but it is equally necessary to confess with the mouth. You must tell others, "Jesus is my Lord; I want to serve Him." No matter how good your conduct is, these words must come out of your mouth.

We have heard people say that if they have good outward conduct, there is no need for them to say anything with their mouth. Please remember that no one will bother to criticize those who say this if they fail slightly in their personal conduct. But if a man stands up to proclaim that he is a Christian, others will immediately criticize and rebuke him when there is any slip in his conduct. Hence, those who say that good conduct is enough and that there is no need to confess with the mouth are in reality giving themselves an excuse to fail in their conduct. They are leaving a back door for themselves to escape from the judgment of others. Never believe that just a change in conduct is sufficient. Confession with the mouth is needed; in fact, it is absolutely indispensable.

B. Being Afraid of Failing to Persevere to the End

Some people think, "If I confess with my mouth and then fail to persevere in my Christian conviction, will this not become a joke to others? Suppose I can no longer make it as a Christian after three or five years, what should I do then? It is better for me not to say anything now. Let me wait for several years, until I find out whether or not I can make it." We can tell such ones that if they do not confess because they are afraid of stumbling or failing, they will surely fail. They have already opened a back door and are trying to avoid the front door. They have already made preparations to back out of their own confession. They want to wait to have assurance before they confess. We are sure that such ones will fail. It is better to stand up and say, "I am for the Lord." If you close the back door first, it will become much harder for you to back out or backslide later. Consequently, you will have a much better chance of going forward than of sliding backward. In fact, this is the only possible way for you to go forward.

If you want to wait until you have good behavior before you confess, your mouth will never open up. You will always be dumb. Even after you have good conduct, you will still be dumb. If you do not open your mouth at the beginning, it will be much harder to open your mouth later. If you open your mouth, the chance of having good conduct will be greater. If you want to wait until your behavior is good before you confess, you will lose both your chance of opening your mouth as well as your chance of having good behavior; both will be lost, and you will fail in both.

One assuring thought is that God is not only the God who redeems us but also the God who preserves us. What should we liken redemption to? Redemption is like buying something. What then is preservation? Preservation is like putting the purchased object in one’s own hand. How many people in this world buy things with the view of throwing them away? When we buy a watch, we want to use it for five or ten years; no one buys a watch with the view of throwing it away. God is saving people everywhere. He does not save them and then throw them away. He wants to preserve what He has saved. Since God has saved us, He will preserve us. Since God has redeemed us, He will preserve us until that day. God loves us so much that He was willing to forsake His Son to redeem us. If He had no intention of preserving us, He would not have paid such a great price. It is God’s purpose as well as His plan to preserve us. Do not be afraid to stand up and say, "I believe in the Lord." You may say, "What happens if I fail in a few days?" Do not worry about this; God will be responsible for it. It is better for you to stand up and say, "I belong to God." Commit yourself to God. God knows that you need support, comfort, and protection. We have the assurance to say that God preserves man’s salvation. This preservation makes redemption meaningful.

(New Believers Series: Confession with the Mouth #8, Chapter 1, by Watchman Nee)