Confession Brings Freedom
Many people have never experienced the freedom of repentance and forgiveness. Why? It’s often because they never learned how to make a sincere, believable and biblical confession.
Instead, they say things like: “I’m sorry if I hurt you.” “Maybe I was wrong.” “Let’s just forget the past.” “I know I shouldn’t have yelled at you, but you made me so mad.”
These worthless statements seldom trigger genuine forgiveness and reconciliation. If you really want to make peace, ask God to help you breathe grace by humbly and thoroughly admitting your wrongs (see Matthew 7:3-5; 1 John 1:8-9; Proverbs 28:13). One way to do this is to use the Seven A’s of a Biblical Confession.
- Address everyone involved (All those whom you affected)
- Avoid if, but, and maybe (Do not try to excuse your wrongs)
- Admit specifically (Both attitudes and actions)
- Acknowledge the hurt (Express sorrow for hurting someone)
- Accept the consequences (Such as making restitution)
- Alter your behavior (Change your attitudes and actions)
- Ask for forgiveness
An eighth A could be added to this list: Allow time. When you’ve deeply disappointed, hurt or wronged someone else, they may need some time to process their emotions and come to a point of forgiveness.
Sincerity and honesty are essential elements of a biblical confession. Therefore, using the Seven A’s as a “Pharisaical checklist” will usually do more harm than good. To avoid this trap, pray earnestly that God will help you to search your own heart, clearly see your own sinful attitudes and actions, and confess them with heartfelt sincerity.
Note: Different cultures view apologies in different ways, so always consider a culture’s views of confession before making a confession (as illustrated in this article on apologies in Japan).
Adapted from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict © 2004 by Ken Sande. All Rights Reserved. See Chapter 6 for more information on confession. Download Chapter 1 for free at this link.