4. Confess To The Other Person

How does my confession lead to reconciliation?

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, that you may be healed.

James 5:16

How do my sins affect others?

When we sin against God, we usually sin against others. These offenses harm our relationships with those we hurt. Our sins also affect others, directly and indirectly. How we treat one another affects our witness to Christ and our faith in the forgiveness of sins.

How do my sins affect others?

Our society does not recognize biblical confession and forgiveness. As a result, people use other words that are poor substitutes for the real thing.

What's inadequate about each of the following? (click image to reveal answer)

"I Apologize"

"I'm Sorry"

Who is responsible for taking the first step?

Each Christian in conflict is always responsible for taking the first step, including:

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:

Click Here to download a copy of Proclaiming God’s Forgiveness. It contains a summary of these guidelines that you may review.

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  • 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.

Journal Reflections

Take a moment to journal your personal reflections from this section, “Confess to the Other Person.”  Apply these questions to a conflict from your own life (current or past).

If you could go back in time and do anything differently in your encounter with the other person, what would that be? Reflecting on your answer, what have you failed to do as a child of God?

Compare your thoughts, words, and actions to what the Bible describes in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. How have you failed to love the other people involved in your dispute?

If you have not confessed your wrongs to the other person, write a prayer for God’s help in confessing to the other person. Then use the Guidelines in this lesson to prepare your words.

Other Reflections:



©2018 by Ambassadors of Reconciliation.