Repentance and Confession

Overcoming Sinful Strongholds

By Charles F. Stanley
  • October 16, 2015

Many of us have found ourselves repeatedly confessing the same sin to God, wondering why we can’t overcome it. At times like these, we feel trapped in Romans 7:15, “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” First John 1:9 assures us that if we confess our sins, God will forgive us, but merely confessing may not bring us victory. What is missing? What will help us get out of this cycle? The missing link is genuine repentance.

What is repentance?

Repentance is heartfelt sorrow for sin followed by a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ. It’s not merely feeling remorse or guilt but changing direction. It includes a recognition that sin is against almighty God and is utterly wrong. When we have truly repented, the result is a changed life. We forsake our former ways and return to the Lord (Isa. 55:7).

Repentance is essential for believers.

Sin does not fit in our lives because God has predestined that we “become conformed to the

image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29). Whenever we sin, the indwelling Holy Spirit convicts us so we can confess and repent. We should never ignore, tolerate, accept, or practice what we know to be sinful. It not only offends God, but also hurts us.

What does confession mean?

Confession means agreeing with God that what we did was wrong. But that alone will not keep us from repeating it. That’s why repentance should always be a part of confession. We are called to live a sanctified life, one that is set apart for God and His purposes. Confession and repentance are an important part of sanctification.

When we live a sanctified life, we walk in obedience to Christ. However, according to 1 John 1:7-9, we deceive ourselves if we think we’ll never sin. That’s why we are told to confess our sins to God. Christ not only forgives us but continually works to cleanse us, making our lives different. He helps us put away the sin and turn back to Him in obedience (Col. 3:8).

This article is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message, “The Missing Link,” which airs this weekend on TV.

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15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.

9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

7 Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.

29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.

9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

8 But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.

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