In Genesis 39, we have the account of Potiphar’s wife seducing Joseph.  Joseph had been sold into slavery by his brothers and was eventually bought by Potiphar, ‘an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian.’  While resisting and refusing the advances of Potiphar’s wife, Joseph said, “There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and SIN AGAINST GOD?” (Genesis 39:9).

When David was confessing his son of adultery after he had slept with Bathsheba, Urias’s wife, he said in Psalm 51:4, “AGAINST THEE, THEE ONLY, HAVE I SINNED, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.”

These two verses, and many more, teach us that ALL SIN IS SIN AGAINST GOD!  When we sin, we need to confess that sin to God.  We read in 1 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.”  The Lord promises us that when we are truly repentant and confess our sins to Him, He will forgive us, and He will cleanse us.  While others might forgive us, they cannot “cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  When we confess our sins to the Lord, we are not telling Him anything he does not already know. In confession we are acknowledging we have sinned against God and stand in need of His forgiveness.  When we confess our sins to Him, He ‘wipes the slate clean’ and therefore cleanses us from the unrighteousness we have committed.

There will be times when we must confess our sins to those we have sinned against.  The Lord Jesus addressed this issue in Matthew 5:23-24, “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first BE RECONCILED TO THY BROTHER, and then come and offer thy gift.”  We see here the necessity to confess our sins to the ones we have sinned against.  To reconcile to our brother or sister in the Lord would be to go to that person, confess the sin that you have committed against that person, ask for their forgiveness, and seek to restore the relationship that has been strained because of your sin.  To sin against another and not confess it can hinder our ability to worship our Lord. 

We are taught in James 5:16, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another…”  It is appropriate that we confess the individual trespasses that we have committed against one another.  Then we should pray for one another. 

Public confession of our sins is not profitable to anyone.  Confess your sins to the Lord and confess your sins to the ones you have sinned against.  No one else needs to be involved.  It is a private matter unless the sin you have committed effects more than one person.  If you have lied to many, then confess that sin to the many you have lied to.  Confess to those who were affected by your sin.  Anything else tends to lead to gossip and slander by those not impacted by your sin. 

Confession of our sins is so important to the spiritual (and physical) health of the believer.  David wrote in Psalm 32:3-5, “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality failed as with the dry heat of summer. Selah.  I acknowledged my sin to You, and I did not hide my guilt; I said, “I will confess my wrongdoings to the Lord”; and You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah”  (458.6)