Confess, be forgiven, and sin no more.

I’ve noticed recently that it is the culture for Christian friendship groups to be ‘accountable’ to eachother, especially within same sex friendship groups. Even accountability groups have been set up in various ways to make sure that Christians are keeping along the right path.

I’m guessing that this notion comes from scripture in Ephesians 5. I think it’s at verse 13 where it talks about light exposing sin. The mentality behind accountability is that if we confess sins to eachother, then it is a step in the right direction to remedying ongoing sin.

Indeed, the Bible says to confess our sins to eachother and to soak eachother in prayer (James 5:16). But the problem comes when all we do is confess.

I want to say right now that I don’t think Accountability Groups are bad in and of themselves. However, any group or method of tackling sin has it’s flaws.

The most obvious one in accountability groups is that people confess their sin, have a fuzzy feeling of being forgiven, have a feeling of weights and burdens being taken off, and * go and sin no more* go and commit the same sin again.

I realise that some sins are hard to shake off. The Bible talks about us battling the flesh daily. I know it in my own personal life.  There are certain sins that I commit daily. BUT… God calls us to live a holy life in light of salvation. There are a few points I want to make on this…

  1. The point of being more Christ like is making sure that we keep on top of this sinning. In John 8 (which is where I get the title of this post from), Jesus tells a woman who has committed to adultery to ‘Go and sin no more’.  That is his call to us too. We are to try our best to not commit sins again. This is not to earn forgiveness, because that is made possible through trust, love and belief in Christ. Rather, it is a daily sacrifice of praise and worship to God; to show him that we love him. Jesus said that if anyone loves him, they will obey his command. The ‘keeping rules’ bit comes as a response to a forgiven soul which is eternally thankful and brimming over with love for it’s Saviour.
  2. The Ephesians 5 passage talks about light exposing darkness. That light isn’t our confession, but rather the light of Christ. Jesus is the one who convicts and deals with sin. Not humans.
  3. James 5 talks about praying for one another and confessing our sins in order that we are healed. There’s no point in confessing if we don’t have this expectation and desire.

In light of this, we come to John 15…

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.8This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.14 You are my friends if you do what I command.15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.17 This is my command: Love each other.

So basically to end… a few points –

  • Sin is only dealt with properly if we’re in the Vine. That means not trusting in accountability groups in itself despite them being useful. (Verse 5)
  • It’s not through confession that we are clean, but by the promise in Christ that has been made available in and through his word (Verse 3)
  • We are now friends of God through Jesus – no condemnation.
  • We must love eachother as Christ loves us. This does mean praying for eachother, confessing eachother, and bearing with one another. It doesn’t mean doing the above but not acting upon it.

Sorry if I seem really negative! I completely understand that some of you will find your accountability fruitful and beneficial, and that’s great. I’m in no way knocking that!

All I’m saying here is to be careful that confession doesn’t turn into the ‘get out of jail free’ card, or the fast lane ticket to getting off the hook.

Whilst Jesus has forgiven us, it is important to worship him in our daily lives, and that means that any sin that is committed must be avoided in future at all costs. It means remaining in him and battling against the flesh with the full armour of God.

I hope you’ve found this encouraging in some way!

Dean Roberts

Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre. Read More @