Editor’s Note: Steps to Life Ministries, just as every Christian ministry and church, occasionally struggles through a crisis. More often than not, a contributing factor, and perhaps the major component of such crises, has to do with speech. Believing this to be a spiritual problem, we have chosen to seek counsel from the Bible and from the Pen of Inspiration. This article continues with a collection of counsel compiled to help heal wounds and bring harmony and unity.]
One sin unconfessed and unrepented of, will close for you the gates of the city of God.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 12, 40.
The Measure of Forgiveness
“If your brethren err, you are to forgive them. When they come to you with confession, you should not say, I do not think they are humble enough. I do not think they feel their confession. What right have you to judge them, as if you could read the heart? The word of God says, ‘If he repent, forgive him. And if he trespasses against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.’ Luke 17:3, 4. And not only seven times, but seventy times seven—just as often as God forgives you.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 249, 250.
No Compromise with Evil
“The gospel makes no compromise with evil. It cannot excuse sin. Secret sins are to be confessed in secret to God; but, for open sin, open confession is required. The reproach of the disciple’s sin is cast upon Christ. It causes Satan to triumph, and wavering souls to stumble. By giving proof of repentance, the disciple, so far as lies in his power, is to remove this reproach.” The Desire of Ages, 811.
Sincere Confession Essential
“Many, many confessions should never be spoken in the hearing of mortals; for the result is that which the limited judgment of finite beings does not anticipate. . . . God will be better glorified if we confess the secret, inbred corruption of the heart to Jesus alone than if we open its recesses to finite, erring man, who cannot judge righteously unless his heart is constantly imbued with the Spirit of God. . . . Do not pour into human ears the story which God alone should hear. . . .
“Your sins may be as mountains before you; but if you humble your heart, and confess your sins, trusting in the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour, He will forgive, and will cleanse you from all unrighteousness. . . . Desire the fullness of the grace of Christ. Let your heart be filled with an intense longing for His righteousness.” The Faith I Live By, 128.
Pentecostal Energy Needed
“The Lord calls for a renewal of the straight testimony borne in years past. He calls for a renewal of spiritual life. The spiritual energies of His people have long been torpid, but there is to be a resurrection from apparent death. By prayer and confession of sin we must clear the King’s highway. As we do this, the power of the Spirit will come to us. We need the pentecostal energy. This will come; for the Lord has promised to send His Spirit as the all-conquering power.” Gospel Workers, 307, 308.
Search Heart for Lurking Sin
“In this great day of atonement our work is that of heart-searching, of self-abasement, and confession of sin, each humbling his own soul before God, and seeking pardon for himself individually. Anciently every one that did not on the day of atonement afflict his soul, was cut off from the people. God would have us work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. If each will search and see what sins are lurking in his own heart to shut out Jesus, he will find such a work to do that he will be ready to esteem others better than himself. He will no longer seek to pluck the mote out of his brother’s eye while a beam is in his own eye.” Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, 213.
Destroy Root of Bitterness
“The prejudices and opinions that prevailed at Minneapolis are not dead by any means; the seeds sown there in some hearts are ready to spring into life and bear a like harvest. The tops have been cut down, but the roots have never been eradicated, and they still bear their unholy fruit to poison the judgment, pervert the perceptions, and blind the understanding of those with whom you connect, in regard to the message and the messengers. When, by thorough confession, you destroy the root of bitterness, you will see light in God’s light. Without this thorough work you will never clear your souls. You need to study the word of God with a purpose, not to confirm your own ideas, but to bring them to be trimmed, to be condemned or approved, as they are or are not in harmony with the word of God. The Bible should be your constant companion. You should study the Testimonies, not to pick out certain sentences to use as you see fit, to strengthen your assertions, while you disregard the plainest statements given to correct your course of action.” Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 326.
“Take your brother right by the hand, and ask him to forgive you. It will not hurt you to get down on your knees, if necessary to do so. Get all the roots of bitterness out of the way. Have all these feelings blotted out by hearty confession one to another. Do not be satisfied with a sort of general confession. Come right to the point. Let the blood of Jesus cancel your wrongs in the Book of Life. You want to be set free, that you may perfect holiness in the fear to God.” Review and Herald, August 14, 1888.
Confession of Sin
“The Scripture bids us, ‘Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.’ James 5:16. To the one asking for prayer, let thoughts like these be presented: ‘We cannot read the heart, or know the secrets of your life. These are known only to yourself and to God. If you repent of your sins, it is your duty to make confession of them.’ Sin of a private character is to be confessed to Christ, the only mediator between God and man. For ‘if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.’ 1 John 2:1. Every sin is an offense against God and is to be confessed to Him through Christ. Every open sin should be as openly confessed. Wrong done to a fellow being should be made right with the one who has been offended. If any who are seeking health have been guilty of evilspeaking, if they have sowed discord in the home, the neighborhood, or the church, and have stirred up alienation and dissension, if by any wrong practice they have led others into sin, these things should be confessed before God and before those who have been offended. ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ 1 John 1:9.” The Ministry of Healing, 228, 229.
Danger of Rebellion
“It is hardly possible for men to offer greater insult to God than to despise and reject the instrumentalities He would use for their salvation. The Israelites had not only done this, but had purposed to put both Moses and Aaron to death. Yet they did not realize the necessity of seeking pardon of God for their grievous sin. That night of probation was not passed in repentance and confession, but in devising some way to resist the evidences which showed them to be the greatest of sinners. They still cherished hatred of the men of God’s appointment, and braced themselves to resist their authority. Satan was at hand to pervert their judgment and lead them blindfold to destruction.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 402.
“The enmity that is cherished toward the servants of God by those who have yielded to the power of Satan changes at times to a feeling of reconciliation and favor, but the change does not always prove to be lasting. After evil-minded men have engaged in doing and saying wicked things against the Lord’s servants, the conviction that they have been in the wrong sometimes takes deep hold upon their minds. The Spirit of the Lord strives with them, and they humble their hearts before God, and before those whose influence they have sought to destroy, and they may change their course toward them. But as they again open the door to the suggestions of the evil one, the old doubts are revived, the old enmity is awakened, and they return to engage in the same work which they repented of, and for a time abandoned. Again they speak evil, accusing and condemning in the bitterest manner the very ones to whom they made most humble confession. Satan can use such souls with far greater power after such a course has been pursued than he could before, because they have sinned against greater light.” Ibid., 662, 663.
Disposal of Sin
“Some men’s sins are open beforehand, confessed in penitence, and forsaken, and they go beforehand to judgment. Pardon is written over against the names of these men. But other men’s sins follow after, and are not put away by repentance and confession, and these sins will stand registered against them in the books of heaven.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 916.
“Confession of sin, whether public or private, should be heartfelt and freely expressed. It is not to be urged from the sinner. . . .
“True confession is always of a specific character, and acknowledges particular sins. They may be of such a nature as to be brought before God only; they may be wrongs that should be confessed to individuals who have suffered injury through them; or they may be of a public character, and should then be as publicly confessed. But all confession should be definite and to the point, acknowledging the very sins of which you are guilty.” Steps to Christ, 38.
“Confession will not be acceptable to God without sincere repentance and reformation. There must be decided changes in the life; everything offensive to God must be put away.” Ibid., 39.
“The examples in God’s word of genuine repentance and humiliation reveal a spirit of confession in which there is no excuse for sin or attempt at self-justification.” Ibid., 41.
Erroneous Ideas of Confession
“There are confessions of a nature that should be brought before a select few and acknowledged by the sinner in deepest humility. The matter must not be conducted in such a way that vice shall be construed into virtue and the sinner made proud of his evil doings. If there are things of a disgraceful nature that should come before the church, let them be brought before a few proper persons selected to hear them, and do not put the cause of Christ to open shame by publishing abroad the hypocrisy that has existed in the church. It would cast reflections upon those who had tried to be Christlike in character. These things should be considered.
“Then there are confessions that the Lord has bidden us make to one another. If you have wronged your brother by word or deed you are first to be reconciled to him before your worship will be acceptable to heaven. Confess to those whom you have injured, and make restitution, bringing forth fruit meet for repentance. If anyone has feelings of bitterness, wrath, or malice toward a brother, let him go to him personally, confess his sin, and seek forgiveness.
“I [Ellen White] recognize, on the other hand, the danger of yielding to the temptation to conceal sin or to compromise with it, and thus act the hypocrite. Be sure that the confession fully covers the influence of the wrong committed, that no duty to God, to your neighbor, or to the church is left undone, and then you may lay hold upon Christ with confidence, expecting His blessing. But the question of how and to whom sins should be confessed is one that demands careful, prayerful study. We must consider it from all points, weighing it before God and seeking divine illumination. We should inquire whether to confess publicly the sins of which we have been guilty will do good or harm. Will it show forth the praises of Him who has called us out of the darkness into His marvelous light? Will it help to purify the minds of the people, or will the open relation of the deceptions practiced in denying the truth have an after influence to contaminate other minds and destroy confidence in us?” Testimonies, vol. 5, 645, 646.
Unforgiving Receive no Mercy
“He who is unforgiving cuts off the very channel through which alone he can receive mercy from God. We should not think that unless those who have injured us confess the wrong we are justified in withholding from them our forgiveness. It is their part, no doubt, to humble their hearts by repentance and confession; but we are to have a spirit of compassion toward those who have trespassed against us, whether or not they confess their faults. However sorely they may have wounded us, we are not to cherish our grievances and sympathize with ourselves over our injuries; but as we hope to be pardoned for our offenses against God we are to pardon all who have done evil to us.” Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 113, 114.
Set Things in Order
“God requires things to be set in order. He calls for men of decided fidelity. He has no use in an emergency for two-sided men. He wants men who will lay their hand upon a work, and say, This is not according to the will of God. It is this miserable thing in dealing with wrongs that God has condemned. The work that will meet the mind of the Spirit of God has not yet begun in Battle Creek [Michigan]. When the work of seeking God with all the heart commences, there will be many confessions made that are now buried. I do not at present feel it my duty to confess for those who ought to make, not a general, but a plain, definite confession, and so cleanse the Lord’s institutions from the defilement that has come upon them.” General Conference Daily Bulletin, March 2, 1899.
“It is not yet too late to redeem the neglect of the past. Let there be a renewal of the first love. Search out the ones you have driven away; bind up by confession the wounds you have made. Many have become discouraged in the struggle of life whom one word of kindly cheer and courage would have strengthened to overcome. Come close to the great heart of pitying love, and let the current of that divine compassion flow into your heart and from you to the hearts of others. Never, never become cold, heartless, unsympathetic. Never lose an opportunity to say a word that will encourage hope. We can not tell how far-reaching may be the influence of our words of kindness, our efforts to lighten some burden.” Pacific Union Recorder, April 10, 1902.
Be Reconciled to Thy Brother
“I [Ellen White] am instructed to say that there are sins between man and his God that no other human being need know anything about. If the one on whom such sins rest will make his peace with God, the Lord will forgive him, and the burden will roll off his soul. He will then make confession to his fellow-men, if he has wronged them, and as he confesses, God will be merciful, and will forgive his sin.
“One such confession is an evidence of the presence of the miracle-working power of God, and it leads to other confessions, not general confessions, but confessions of particular wrongs that have existed between brethren. God values above gold or silver the one who makes such a confession. ‘I will make a man more precious than fine gold,’ He says, ‘even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.’ [Isaiah 13:12.]” Ibid., December 1, 1904.
“During the past night I [Ellen White] seemed to be standing before a large company of believers. I was saying to them, Now, at the very beginning of this meeting, is the time for you individually to search your own hearts and discern your individual needs. Have you committed wrongs and concealed them? If so, you have a work of confession to do. You have not to confess the sins of your neighbor or your brother, but you need to come to God in repentance and confession of your own wrong-doing.” Ibid., May 6, 1909.
“A brother said he was laboring to find rest for his soul, but he does not feel free. He said that he had felt an antipathy to a certain brother. He begged his brother to give him his hand and forgive him for his feelings. This confession was well wet down with tears.” Review and Herald, May 4, 1876.
“Now, as the old year is passing away and the new year coming in, is a good time for those who have cherished alienation and bitterness to make confession to one another.” Ibid., December 26, 1882.
An Individual Work
“Are we by repentance and confession sending our sins beforehand to Judgment, that they may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come? This is an individual work,—a work which we cannot safely delay. We should take hold of it earnestly; our salvation depends upon our sincerity and zeal. Let the cry be awakened in every heart, ‘What must I do to be saved?’ ” Ibid., August 28, 1883.
“We each have a work to do that no one can do for us. The Lord would be pleased to see us humble our hearts before him, confessing our sins, and righting every wrong that exists between us and our brethren. There is danger that the adversary will suggest that we need not humble our hearts before God; that we need not make confession to our brethren of the wrongs we have done them in speaking of their faults, magnifying their errors, putting wrong constructions upon their words, and letting into our hearts enmity against them. Some have entertained such feelings. Alienation, prejudice, and jealousy have ruled in hearts, and love for Jesus and for one another has been supplanted by these weeds of Satan’s planting. Brethren, shall we let the enemy triumph by allowing these wrongs to go uncorrected?” Ibid., March 4, 1884.
Pastor Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life Ministry and pastor of the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: email@example.com or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.