Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com

Is Confessing to God Enough


Is confessing to GOD enough when you commit a sin...or must you tell the person that is unaware involved in my sin....what I have done, to be at peace with myself, and have no secrets. But, it would break our entire family apart?



Dear A:

I can only give you general principles here, because I don’t know your situation. The key point is to confess your sin to God, turn away from it, continue to deepen your relationship to God, and get on with your life. Love your family; do not hurt them.

1. The first item is to get right with God. The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). In another place, Paul states, “What then shall we say to these thing? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31). Jesus said to the woman taken in adultery, “go your way. From now on sin no more” (John 8:11).

2. Second, you should make things right, and be reconciled with any person that you have directly sinned against, and they know it (Matthew 5:23, 22). Get rid of any bitterness, grudges, gossip, and other sins of the heart and mouth. Some relationships, however, should not be continued nor reconciled. They are too toxic. For example, for one person to attempt to reconcile with the other person in an adulterous relationship would only lead to a continued adulterous relationship. Break it off quickly and permanently. I am not saying this is your case, but only give it as an illustration.

3. You do not need, nor should you, confess sins to innocent parties who know nothing of the sin. It would be a greater sin to break up your family by telling them of your sin. The rule is to confess your sin and tell only others directly involved as long as it does not cause even more damage to the parties involved. Keep things between yourself and God.

4. Another general rule is that if a sin is private, then handle it privately; if it is public, then handle it publically. For example, Jesus wrote regarding church discipline, “And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer” (Matthew 18:15-17). 

Here the issue is to deal with sin. But, handle private sins privately. If there is repentance, then move into a healing stage, and keep it private. If stubbornness sets in, then go on to the next stage.

5. Let me give you an example from my experience as a pastor many years ago. Again, I am not saying that adultery is your case. I don’t know, nor do I need to know what your sin is. This story serves only as an example to drive home a point. 

There are some in the Christian world who teach that in order to have a clear conscience, you need to confess publically (or to many other people) your sin. There should be no secrets between couples, they say. I believe they are wrong.

One time a young man came to me in my office. He had been married about 10 years, had a fine wife, two lovely children, and a great marriage. However, he was very distraught. It seems that while lying in bed one night, he convinced his wife to tell all the secrets in her life, and he would his. That way there would be no secrets between them. Someone told him that his marriage would be greatly blessed if they shared all their secrets.

First, he confessed all his secrets. Then, his wife shared hers. As things happened, when they had been married about a month (some 10 years before the big confession), she has sex with a person in the neighborhood. It was a onetime stand, and she was greatly remorseful, confessing her sins to God. She never told her husband, she turned away from her sin, and developed into a solid, devout Christian woman and mother. 

Well, surrendering to her husband’s insistence, she told him of the incident. It shook him up so much that he wanted to divorce her. His jealousy drove him to hate his wife, and he was insistent on breaking up his lovely family by way of divorce. Did the sharing all their secrets bless the marriage? No. It destroyed it. It would have been better for her to keep her mouth shut. 

I had a wonderful Vietnamese pastor friend years ago. Pastor Do has now gone on to be with the Lord. I was confronted with a similar problem with another fine couple in my congregation. They were church leaders: a wonderful husband and wife with two children – and relatively new converts. Only this time, the guilty person had misused a small amount of church money in his responsibility. He came to me, confessed his sin, and made arrangements to repay the funds – which he did. 

I asked Pastor Do what to do. Should I handle the matter privately? Or, should I go publically to the whole church? If I did the latter, the whole family would be disgraced, and the gossips would have a field day.

As it was, Pastor Do told me a Vietnamese proverb: it is better not to dig up dead dogs and chickens. Let them stay buried in the ground, he advised me. If you dig them up, it will just cause more stink, and satisfy no one. He was correct.

Let me give another example. Many times people have frustrations and conflict at work. Then they come home and take out their problems on their spouse. What happens? The spouse also gets agitated, and wants to go to the other person’s work and tell off the boss. Why give them your work problems? They have enough problems themselves. We do not need to dump off our problems on other people, and add to their load.

Now, I need to qualify what I have just said. Sometimes it is good to have a trusted friend or counselor to dump our sins and problems upon. They can give us good feedback, accept us, and help us get back on the right track with God and life. However, make sure that friend or counselor is competent, can keep things confidential, can be objective, and is not themselves involved in the problem.

Everyone has regrets in life. Everyone has a skeleton in their closet. We all have said things, done things, and thought things that make us shutter. We are fallen sinners, deserving no quarter, sympathy or pity. That is why Christ had to come die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. Now He can extend grace to us, which is underserved favor toward those of us who stand condemned, convicted and guilty of sin. 

A, I hope these few words will help you in your situation. Remember the words of Paul, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

All the best, and God bless,

Dr. Newman

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