Law #19: The Law of Confession. James 5.16

James 5:16 (NIV) Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

  1. 1 John 1:9 (NIV) “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Who are we told to confess our sins to in this verse?
  2. James 5.16. Who are we told to confess our sins to in this verse?
  3. When do we need to confess our sins to a human, and when is it OK to confess our sins privately to God?
  4. Why would we ever need to confess our sins to a human?
  5. Why is it so difficult to say these words: “I was wrong”?
  6. James 5.16. What do you take “healed” to mean in this context?
  7. How many people do we need to confess our sins to?
  8. What would be some qualities you would look for in someone you might be willing to confess your sins to?
  9. Let me read a quote from John Ortberg. Try to imagine what this felt like for John. How do you think John was healed this day?

After Rick and I had been friends for about a decade, I decided I would like to try an exercise in intimacy I had never tried before —to confess to him everything I could think of that needed confessing. I had just finished writing what folks in AA call “a fearless moral inventory.” When it was done, I met with Rick and read through everything I had written down —details of lying, and jealousy, and lust, and anger, and pride, and woundedness. Some of them were matter-of-fact for me, but some were so mortifying that I couldn’t look at him while I was reading them; all I could do was focus on the paper.

It was his response that slew me.

I hadn’t really thought about what he might say when I was finished. I was too caught up in my own sense of shame, and in what I knew would be his lessened opinion of me.

He asked me to look up at him, and then he spoke the sentence I’ll never forget: “John, I’ve never loved you more than I love you right now.”[1]

  1. Where would one start? Big things or little things? All at once, or gradual?
  2. How can we pray for each other this week?

[1] Ortberg, John. 2017. I’d Like You More If You Were More like Me: Getting Real about Getting Close. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Refresh.

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