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My knowledge of Catholic confession is derived entirely from TV shows and movies. But if it’s anything like what you see in movies, Catholic confession is very shallow. Usually, it consists of a person who has been living a terribly sinful life entering a confessional booth with a priest and confessing all of their sins. Then, they leave the confessional booth, and they go commit the same exact sins all over again. When the Bible calls us to repentance, this is not what it has in mind. Biblical repentance is much deeper and more life-changing. It begins with confession, but it ends with a righteous life. It doesn’t mean that we instantly leave behind our sin, but it does mean that there is growth in hatred for that sin and a progressive movement toward righteous living.
When I was in high school I was part of a small group Bible study with other guys my age. In this Bible study, I learned what it looked like for brothers in Christ to confess their sins to one another. It was a safe place to be honest about my struggles, and it was in this Bible study that I learned to be open about my sin. Unfortunately, while being open and honest with each other, we did little to kill these sins in ourselves or each other. Instead, we lived each week as if we wanted to make sure we had something to confess.
Pursuing biblical repentance is essential for our relationships with other believers. It should be a regular part of our prayer triads, Life Groups, and our less formal relationships with other believers. This begins with confessing our sins and struggles to our close Christian friends, and it must also involve holding friends accountable when they are open with you. Ask your friends how they are struggling. Lift them up when they fall. Encourage them when they succeed. Repentance is a life-long process of confession and growth in righteousness, and we need other believers to be involved in this process. How can you encourage those around you to live in repentance?
Scripture: Matthew 3:1-17
Sermon: The Kingdom of the Repentant