How to Respond to Confession

One of our hopes in making disciples at Coggin is that we be a part of a culture where we don't have to pretend like we've got it all together. Living with an a polished veneer is a type of self-preservation that may lead others to think highly of us, but in the end it's a false image that breeds false hope in a false savior. Our efforts of self-preservation are a tendency of the flesh that we pray the Spirit breaks in us, because when we admit that we're not all put together and that we are desperately in need of the grace of God for our continual shaping into Christ's image, then and only then will we know what it means to walk in freedom.

However, if this is truly to become a part of our culture, then not only do we need to learn how to  lay aside the polished veneer and confess our sins, but we also need to know how to respond when someone confesses sin to us. It's something you may not think about until the moment comes and you may end up feeling dumbstruck or respond with "Okay, Thanks for sharing." Here are a few things to keep in mind as we fight for one another's joy in Christ.

1. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. 

One of the biggest mistakes we can make when hearing the confession of a brother or sister is to interject comments or questions too quickly. Confessing sin can be very difficult and finding the right words may take time, so we must always guard our tongues and allow the person confessing sin to lay out their heart on their terms. A sure fire way to stifle confession is to be impatient or chatty. In moments of silence you may feel the need to make a joke to lighten the mood or share one of your experiences to spur them on. Fight that urge and instead pray silently that the Spirit would empower them to obedience. 

Not only should we be quick to listen and slow to speak, but we should also be slow to anger.  Our anger can be kindled in several ways, but two include: 1) the sin being confessed is a direct offense to you. 2) Reoccurring sin that you know is destroying the joy of your brother or sister. Whatever the case, respond with grace. 

2. Point them to the Gospel. 

The way we respond with grace is by pointing our friends to the Gospel. The essence of the Gospel is not I obey, therefore I'm accepted, but I'm accepted, therefore I obey. So, our response should never resemble "Well, just try harder this week." Such a response is lacking of two major components to Christian confession that must be present. The first is assurance of pardon. Our knee jerk reaction can at times tend to be encouragement void of the Gospel, which amounts to spurring one another to good behavior. When someone confesses sin to you, this is an amazing opportunity to be obedient and share the Gospel with someone in need. The Gospel isn't just for those who are apart from Christ, but for those who belong to Him as well. This provides an opportunity for you to remind your brother or sister of the God who loved them so much that he sent his only Son to take their place on the cross where He absorbed the full wrath of God on their behalf and settled their debt. Now risen and securing their place in God's family, there is now no condemnation them because they are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)! Christian confession is only distinctly Christian when there is assurance of pardon. We all crave this assurance even when we don't realize it, because deep down we know that if we confess our sin, He who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Therefore, your responsibility as a brother or sister is to point your friend to the one who is faithful, just, and promises to cleanse. The second aspect our response often lacks is the power to go and sin no moreThis is an extension of the assurance of pardon. In order for us to leave with any power for the upcoming fight, we need to be reminded of the indwelling Spirit who works in us both to will and to work for God's good pleasure (Philippians 2:16). Fuel for the fight will never be found in exhortations to behave ourselves, but only comes when we kill the flesh by the power of the Spirit (Romans 8:13). Remind your friend to humbly rely on the Spirit of God and the word of God.

3. Pray for them.

James 5:16 says, "Confess your sins one to another AND pray for one another that you may be healed. Pray for him or her on the spot and use that time to remind yourselves once again of the God who has cleansed us of sin, buried us with Christ in baptism, and raised us to live the resurrection life. Then, commit to pray for them and with them as they walk in repentance and faith.

Learning how to respond to those who confess sin is just as important as learning how to confess sin. Confession without assurance and empowering to walk in holiness puts us in danger of losing sight of our dependance on the Spirit and our redemption that's been won through Christ. Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. Make the most of a person's confession by pointing them to the Gospel of Jesus. Pray for your brother or sister—that the Spirit of God would restore and empower them to walk in newness of life. 

Fight Club Resources

At Coggin, we believe in the necessity of the church, each other, for the Spirit-filled life that Christ has redeemed us to walk in. This is why we are encouraging everyone to get plugged in to a Fight Club. These are small groups of 2-3, men with men and women with women, who come together for a two-fold purpose: to fight for faith and against sin. Click below to learn more.

After you've chosen your group and set a meeting time, you might be thinking, "What next?" When you come together, remember the grid for discussion is Text-Theology-Life. The best course of action is for your group to pick a book of the Bible and read through it.

When you come together, ask questions that try to unpack the Gospel truths presented. What is being said about God? What attribute of God is being highlighted here? What is being said about man? What does this say about our sin, our plight, and our redemption? How does this foreshadow, display, or unpack the person and work of Jesus Christ? These are by no means the limit, but when we talk about Gospel truths, we mean those things that pertain to all mankind and are centered on the the Good News of Jesus Christ.

As you discuss these things, you ask questions that pertain to your specific situation. How do the truths presented here speak to my struggle with sin, my victories, or my trials? What is the Spirit calling me to believe about God and His word? What is the Spirit calling me to believe about myself in light of Him? What conviction is the Spirit working in my soul? 

As you voice your struggle with sin, be specific. It simply isn't effective to say, "I struggle with sins of pride." What particular sins do you entertain? When do you entertain those sins? Why do you believe you entertain those sins? What Gospel promises are you actually rejecting when you entertain those sins? How is Jesus better than the sins we entertain.

Satan is crafty in that he appeals to our desires—so when we discuss our sins, we must get to the root cause, not simply the fruit that hangs on the limb that's connected to the trunk that springs from the root. 


SUGGESTED MATERIAL

We understand that you may need some guidance along the grid of Text-Theology-Life, so here are some suggested materials that we will add to as we become aware of more.

1) The Bible. I realize that this may sound like a given, but it's so easy for us to move quickly from the Bible to a study or commentary on what someone else has to say about the Bible. Spend the bulk of your time chewing on the passage that your group has agreed on. A good study Bible with Gospel connections and theological notes would be helpful. The ESV Study Bible is an excellent choice. 

2) Gospel-Centered Discipleship by Jonathan Dodson. Pastor Jonathan is the one who gave us the vision for Fight Clubs and helped us think through some of the biblical, theological, and philosophical points of discipleship. This book would add more understanding regarding where we (the leadership) are hoping to lead our community.

3) Know the Bible Series by Crossway Publishers. These are 12 week studies done on various books of the Bible that aren't meant to be commentaries, but pointed discussion questions on the theology and application of the books. Because they are 12 weeks in duration, they are more focused on big picture and broad brush glances at the books they cover. 


Remember, these groups are meant to be simple. God has freely given us his Spirit, His Word, and His people to help us fight for faith and against sin. If you will keep these core tenants as the foundation of your Fight Club, then your group will fight well. Fight for one another and point each other to Jesus!

 

Fight Club

1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” The fact that Satan is looking to destroy us should make us watchful and sober-minded. However, it does not mean that we should live in fear.

THE LORD HAS GRACIOUSLY GIVEN US MEANS TO COMBAT THE WORKS OF OUR ADVERSARY.

1. The Spirit of God that indwells every believer. He is our helper that makes us holy and guides us into truth.

2. The Word of God. When Satan tempted Christ he responded with unashamed confidence in the word of God—“It is written…”

3. The Church of God. Paul writes, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Gal 6:1-2).”

 

THE PURPOSE OF FIGHT CLUBS

Romans 8:13 says, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Our purpose in these groups are two-fold:

1) To fight to believe the promises of God (we are told if we do so we will live). Knowing and believing the Gospel promises of God must come first, or else we are just modifying behavior. True and lasting change comes when we wage war against the flesh by the Spirit.

2) To know and fight our sin (what do you struggle with? when do you struggle with it? what’s your surrounding environment when you entertain certain sins?). Failure to know and fight our sin leads to death. “Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death (James 1:15).”

HOW DOES A FIGHT CLUB WORK?

1) No more than 3 people to a group. The group may grow, but in order to remain effective, should multiply into 2 groups if the number surpasses 3.

2) The group should keep focus on the Gospel. Remember, we fight by the Spirit—any other means leads to failure. We do this by applying this grid to our discussion: .

Text: Agree on a common biblical text and commit to read it devotionally as a group. Ask the Spirit to lead you into truth and shine light on     the darkness that exists in your heart. The Spirit may lead you to repent of sin, rejoice in a promise, or meditate on an insight. Every time you gather, make the Word of God your focus.

 Theology: Work through the verses in your group (in community). Try to understand the central truth of that passage that applies to all people, everywhere, and always. Ask how the person and work of Jesus informs the passage. This is not to be confused with practical application… that comes next.

 Life: How does the passage speak to your situation? Share your lives. Be honest about your failures as well as your successes. Challenge one another in having a person in their life that they are actively trying to engage with the Gospel. Pray as a group, asking God to help you trust His promises, as well as asking Him to give unbelievers the same gift of faith. A few elements that should exist in every Fight Club is an environment where Confession, Repentance, Admonishment, and Encouragement is fostered and celebrated.

TYPES OF FIGHT CLUBS

There are two types of fight clubs—peer and mentor. Peer groups focus on brother to brother/sister to sister type relationships, while mentor groups focus on mother to daughter/father to son relationship (1 Thessalonians 2). Whatever the type, you should focus on how the gospel applies to your lives. We also encourage you to reproduce what you learn by multiplying fight clubs after a season in order to spread God's grace to more people.

THE CHALLENGE - START A FIGHT CLUB

 You may already be doing something like this, but I invite you to adopt this structure. Fight Clubs are not to be confused with Bible studies, nor are they meant to replace Sunday Morning Bible Study. These are supplemental to the growing life of the disciple and can be helpful in ensuring the connection between our heads and our hearts. These groups are simple, biblical, and missional. We avoid legalism and behavior modification by promoting Christ-centered Scripture reading that drives us to celebrate our successes and shed light on our failures. We also avoid sinful license by taking sin seriously and seeking to live by the Spirit, not by the flesh. 

REMEMBER, THE AIM IS TO SEE OUR DESIRES SHIFT FROM SIN TO CHRIST. 
TO DO THIS WE MUST FIGHT FOR FAITH AND AGAINST SIN. 

FOR EVERY LOOK AT SIN LOOK TEN TIMES TO CHRIST!

1. Read up further on the purpose of fight clubs from Pastor Jonathan Dodson, author of Gospel-Centered Discipleship.
2. Pick some people. Fight Clubs are relationally driven, so pick people you want to go deep with. Start by checking with friends or those in your Sunday School class. Establish an agreed upon level of confidentiality and make the commitment to one another. Without a true commitment to one another, Gospel-Centered Discipleship will always elude us. Once you form your group, or if you need help forming a group, use the form below and we'll contact you!
3. Set a time. The first thing you should do once you set your group is sync your calendars. Without a set time there will always be things that pull you away from what can be a vital catalyst for change in your life.

CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE FIGHT!