Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven, Matthew 10:32.
What does it mean to confess? I grew up as a Roman Catholic wherein I was taught to regularly, under the cover of a darkened closet, tell all of my sins to a priest. The priest would then mete out some minor penance such as saying the rosary a certain amount of times or some other form of formatted prayer and then pronounce that those sins that I had acknowledged to him were forgiven. We called that process the Sacrament of Confession.
Somehow this relic of medieval religion has come to define confession even in Baptist circles. To confess is to acknowledge. In other words, I could explain our opening verse Matthew 10:32 by saying, if we acknowledge Jesus Christ before men, he will acknowledge us before the Father. In fact whenever we see any of the 47 iterations of the word "confess" in our King James Bible, whether confess, confessed, confesseth or confession, the simple meaning is to acknowledge a fact or a belief whether that fact be our sins or our belief be the greatness of God.
The Lord made provision in the law for Israel to judge themselves and in so doing forestall or halt the judgment of God upon their iniquities and trespasses.
Leviticus 26:40: If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me,
Leviticus 26:41: And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity:
Leviticus 26:42: Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.
That is exactly the process used when Ezra and Nehemiah made public confession of the sins of Israel and the greatness of God in Ezra Chapter 9 and Nehemiah Chapter 9. Daniel does the same thing in Daniel Chapter 9. Each of these great men judge themselves and their nation before God and find themselves and their people to have sinned against God. They find God to be righteous in his judgments.
Daniel 9:20: And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God;
Daniel 9:21 Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.
Daniel 9:22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.
Daniel 9:23 At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.
Daniel 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
It was in this confession for himself and for his nation that opened the doors for Daniel to receive one of the greatest prophesies in all of scripture. Did Daniel carefully go through every single transgression of the laws of God committed by himself and his nation? No, without reservation, and by faith, and in accordance with scripture he agree with God about his own and Israel's transgressions. It pleased the Lord for him to have done so. Fellowship between God and Israel was restored in Daniel Chapter 9, Ezra Chapter 9 and in Nehemiah Chapter 9.
What is the effect upon a person under the ministry and writings of the Apostle Paul when they transgress against God? Can they go to hell? No, God will kill them long before they could ever reach such a place. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live, Romans 8:13. The Christian who lives after the flesh does not lose his or her salvation. They lose their fellowship with God. Their sin nature becomes predominant and defiles their conscience.
Romans 8:13 clearly demonstrates that even though salvation and forgiveness of our sins is complete in Christ Jesus, and even though our sins and unrighteousnesses can no longer separate us from the love of God, our behavior as saints of God can and will affect our relationship with God. This is seen at the Lord's Table.
1st Corinthians 11:27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
1st Corinthians 11:28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
1st Corinthians 11:29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
1st Corinthians 11:30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
We clearly see the plight of a person secure in Christ Jesus but who walks after the flesh. He has two natures. He has the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness, Ephesians 4:24. And he has his old Adamic nature which seeks to glorify self and the flesh. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members, Romans 7:23. What can the saint of God do who finds himself at the Lord's table and realizes that he has lived after the flesh and that for him to partake of this bread and this cup would be eating and drinking damnation to himself?
He can take comfort in the mercies of God which have manifested themselves in every age of man. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged, 1st Corinthians 11:31. What is he judging himself for if Jesus already died for all of his sins? He is judging himself because for him to acknowledge his transgressions, his carnal attitude and his disregard for God, he has the promise that God will not judge him for those things. He had better judge them as God sees them , not in some light trivial and half hearted confession. It is not we who judge such a confession, it is the Holy Ghost who has been grieved who judges.
The severest penalties other than physical death that can be inflicted upon the child of God are the withdrawal of God's fellowship, the withdrawal of his leading, the loss of reward, and the loss of some inheritance. This happens because the child of God walks after the flesh. The works of the flesh become manifest in his life. If you have ever been caught in this trap, you know that it takes grace from God to escape and to live in the new man.
That brings us to 1st John 1:9; If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. How is that different from 1st Corinthians 11:31? It is not different in any way. How can the saint of God who finds himself trapped in carnality and cannot seem to reestablish fellowship with God get out of his bind? He can judge himself. As we have seen in every usage of the word confession in a King James Bible, that means to acknowledge his sins and transgressions. That is confession of sins. What does God do if a person judges himself, acknowledges his transgressions, confesses his sins (three synonymous phrases)? God miraculously intervenes to deliver him from the power of his carnal nature. In other words, he cleanses us from all unrighteousness.
At least three or four times a week I get charts sent to me which warn me that I am under Paul's ministrations and writings, not under the other Apostles. These people study their charts so long and hard that they don't actually think about the verses they read. Giving them a King James Bible is like giving Alex Baldwin a pistol. They just blindly pull triggers. 1st John 1:9 is not a pathway to salvation. Like 1st Corinthians 11:31, it is a pathway to restoring fellowship.
A man from my ministry who is traveling from meeting to meeting called me this week to express his utter dismay at the blindness that exists out there in the fundamentalist fantasy land. I told him that I was glad that he is getting a first rate education in the degeneration of the King James Bible Churches. Their King James Bibles are a prop which function more like a gang password than a light unto their feet. He watched an auditorium full of preachers amen a man who declared that 1st John 1:9 wasn't for them.
Get rid of your little charts and fancy pants theologies. Start reading and studying your scripture. Keep in mind that it was the Apostle Paul's job to take the Gentile by the hand and to explain the rest of the bible to them. When he explained 1st John 1:9, too many of these men miss it.