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Commentary on "Relationships""



Day 5: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 - Confess Your Sins to Each Other



This lesson deals with confessing our sins to one another, referring to James 5:16:

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.

The lesson discusses the therapeutic and relationship benefits of talking our one’s issues, confessing one’s sins and guilt to a trust friend, and owning one’s own sins done against others. The lesson states, “Trusting and being trusted provide the bonding that will make a friendship genuine and lasting.”



The passage in James 5:16 is taken out of context in the lesson. It is in the setting of calling for the elders of the church when someone is sick, having the elders pray over the sick one and anoint him or her with oil. James 16 comes immediately after the command to have the elders come and pray.

James 5:16 is not talking generally about confessing to someone for the purpose of unburdening one’s guilt; it is expanding on the spiritual reality of God’s forgiveness and healing when we submit ourselves to the godly leaders of a true church for prayer when we are sick. This text is connecting physical and spiritual health in the way that is common throughout the New Testament.

Again, underlying the concept of confessing and confiding in another is the caveat that none of this will “work” outside the context of being born of the Spirit.

To be sure, we must own our sin and confess our sins to God and ask forgiveness from those we hurt. All humanity is held responsible for individual sin

Once we are born from above as a consequence of having placed our faith in the blood of the Lord Jesus, however, our eternal life is secured, and ongoing repentance and confession is how we stay vulnerable to the Lord Jesus and to others.

Ultimately we must be open with God and confess to Him, and we must ask forgiveness from one another when we wrong them.

Concurrently, we are to forgive those who ask us to forgive them. Even if they repeatedly transgress against us, we must forgive if they ask:

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:21-22 ESV)



  1. Confession and forgiveness go hand in hand. On the one hand, we must own our sin and confess it to God. Concurrently, we are to ask forgiveness of those whom we sin against.
  2. We must forgive those who ask us to forgive them, and we must surrender our “rights” to defend or protect ourselves, knowing that when we hurt another, even if we have been hurt by them, we are not living within God’s will.
  3. Confession and healing are related: the New Testament always connects spiritual and physical health, and the Lord Jesus heals us in the most profound ways, asking us to own our responsibility and confess our sins.




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