James said, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (Jas 5:16). What does it mean to “confess your faults (sin)?” And to whom should we confess our sins? These are questions that have a biblical answer.
It is becoming a trend among those who use Facebook and other media outlets to lay out one’s whole life history for the world to see. This is worldly and is not of God. It is unfortunate that in our modern “woke” world, even within the church, we have left biblical principles and adapted to the world’s ways. The wise man warned of such foolishness: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, But the end thereof are the ways of death” (Pro. 14:12). It is only natural when men of the world lead men, they will do as men of the world do.
Some tell us that the way to confess your sins today is by acknowledging them on the “World-Wide-Web” for all to see. They want to place it on Facebook, where they will receive all kinds of accolades for their “bravery” in confessing those sins to all. They call it “having accountability.” Accountability to whom? To whomever will read what they post! The problem with this type of reasoning is it is not of God but of the world. That is, it is worldly. Once again, remember, when men of the world lead men, they will do as men of the world do.
What does the Bible say about confessing our sins? In James chapter five, James set forth three questions: (1) “Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray.” (2) “Is any merry? Let him sing psalms.” (3) “Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church….” (5:13-14a). In this context, James is writing to Christians. He informs us that if we are afflicted, we should pray about it. If we are merry, then we should lift up our voices in song, singing praises to the Lord, for it is He who has made us be merry. But if we are sick, we should call for the elders to come and pray over us or for us.
This sickness is both physical and spiritual. When we are physically sick, we should call for elders to come and pray for us. However, the same is true when we are spiritually sick. The Bible teaches us that they (the elders) have the rule over us, and they watch for our souls (Heb. 13:17). They also tend to and feed our spiritual needs (1 Pet. 5:1-4; Acts 20:28). These men are mature and spiritual men who can help us in times of trouble (Tit. 1:9).
After calling for the elders and having prayed for the one who is sick, the text says “and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him” (5:15b). Then in verse 16, the text says, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (Jas. 5:16).
In the context we are to confess our sins to the elders “one to another.” This does not exclude confessing to our brethren, nor does it exclude coming before the church. We have examples/commandments of such, Matthew 18:15-20, if they do not hear you after two or three witnesses, then take them before the church.
Also, when a brother was committing fornication (1 Cor. 5:1-11), he was to be brought before the church in order to save his soul. This was done before the church in order “to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor. 5:5). In doing so, he would be restored to the fold of God. How often should this be done? Matthew wrote, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:21-22).
As we confess our faults one to another, we are to pray for each other. The text says: “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (5:16). The prayer of righteous people has great power as we continue to pray for each other.
If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us (1 John 1:6-10).
If we continue to walk in the light, His blood continues to wash all our sins away. Because when “we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” To whom do we confess our sins? God! Not to the world! Why would Christians take their sins before the world? Can the world pray for the Christian? NO! The world has no access to the Father of lights; only the child of God has this right.
The Bible teaches that we are a family, and the family takes care of their own. We cry with each other, we rejoice with each other (Rom. 12:15), and we pray with each other. Jesus said, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you” (Matt. 7:6). When we put our business on Facebook for the world to see, we are casting our pearls before the swine. Furthermore, we are giving people the means to be busybodies in business which they have no business knowing about. Peter wrote, “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters” (1 Pet. 4:15).
I understand the need for accountability. When I was younger, I had a smoking problem and needed help quitting. I tried for many years to stop, but it seemed hopeless. Finally, I went to a brother (a fellow Christian, not the world) and told him my problem, and we prayed about it. Knowing that he knew and that he and I were praying about it, I was able to quit smoking. But remember, the accountability was to a church member, not the world.
Brethren, Facebook, social media, the World-Wide-Web, etc., are good tools to use for God’s glory. But, beware because they are also tools used by Satan to destroy your influence and the church’s influence. So, if what you place on these platforms is not for the edifying of the church (Rom. 14:19; 1 Cor. 10:23; 14:26; 2 Cor. 12:19; Eph. 4:29), then please for the love of the church and the salvation of souls, do not let Satan use you to the destruction of your soul and the soul of others.