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Guidelines for Christian Confession

Expressing godly sorrow in confession reflects true contrition – it is a fruit of repentance. However, we are so accustomed to self-justifying that our words often serve to avoid taking responsibility for our sin. Instead, our words seek to blame others or explain away our guilt. Consider utilizing the “Guidelines for Confession” described below:

  • Go as a beggar.​


       Matthew 5:23-24; Luke 15:19; Luke 18:13-14; James 5:16

  • Own your sin.


       Numbers 5:5-7; Psalm 32:3-5; Psalm 51:3-4

  • “I sinned against God and you when I . . .”

  • “I was wrong . . .”

  • Identify your sins according to God’s Word.

  • Sinful thoughts – Ecclesiastes 2:1-3; Matthew 15:19; Luke 6:45

  • Sinful words – Exodus 20:16; Proverbs 11:13; Ephesians 4:29

  • Sinful actions – Exodus 20:12-17; Matthew 7:12; Galatians 5:19-21

  • Sins of omission, such as failing to love as Christ commands –

                  1 Corinthians 13:4-7

  • Note Psalm 51:4 and the prodigal son’s confession to his father in Luke 15:21

  • Express sorrow for hurt your sin has caused.


       Luke 15:21

  • “My sin hurt you by…” or “I am sorry for how my actions hurt you when…”

  • If you are unsure how your behavior was hurtful, ask! (“How have my actions hurt you?”)

  • Commit to changing your behavior with God’s help.


       Psalm 51:10-12; Matthew 3:8; Luke 19:8; Romans 6:21-22; Ephesians 4:22-24

  • “With God’s help, I will not do this again.”

  • Be willing to bear the consequences.


       Numbers 5:5-7; Luke 15:21; Luke 19:8

  • Ask for forgiveness.


       Genesis 50:17; Psalm 32:5; Matthew 5:23-24; Luke 18:13

  • Trust in Christ’s forgiveness.


       Psalm 103:8-13; Colossians 1:13-14; Ephesians 1:7-10

  • Regardless if the other person forgives, trust in Christ’s forgiveness.

While not every one of the guidelines is necessary for a godly confession, these can help you take full responsibility for your part in a conflict and avoid denying your sin or blame-shifting.

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