How Should the Body of Christ Confess Their Faults?

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How should the body confess (acknowledge) our faults (trespasses)? 

Jas 5:13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
Jas 5:14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
Jas 5:15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
Jas 5:16 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 5:17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
Jas 5:18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. Jas 5:19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;
Jas 5:20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. 

G1843 (Confess) ἐξομολογέω exomologeō ex-om-ol-og-eh’-o
From G1537 and G3670; to acknowledge or (by implication of assent) agree fully: – confess, profess, promise.

G3900 (Faults/trespass) παράπτωμα paraptōma par-ap’-to-mah
From G3895; a side slip (lapse or deviation), that is, (unintentional) error or (wilful) transgression: – fall, fault, offence, sin, trespass.

James is addressing us, and the subject of his letter is telling what to do when we fall into diverse temptations.

Jas 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
Jas 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
Jas 1:3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
Jas 1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Jas 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
Jas 1:6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
Jas 1:7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

What is Wisdom that we lack?

Pro 4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

Why do we trespass? Because we lack wisdom. So the purpose of our trespasses is to give us wisdom, which leads to understanding.

Psa 19:12 Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.
Psa 19:13 Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.

What is the presumptuous sin?… the great transgression?

1Co 4:6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.

Here is what the old testament has to say about trespass and the process of payment for our trespass.

Num 5:5 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Num 5:6 Speak unto the children of Israel, When a man or woman shall commit any sin that men commit, to do a trespass against the LORD, and that person be guilty;
Num 5:7 Then they shall confess their sin which they have done: and he shall recompense his trespass with the principal thereof, and add unto it the fifth part thereof, and give it unto him against whom he hath trespassed.
Num 5:8 But if the man have no kinsman to recompense the trespass unto, let the trespass be recompensed unto the LORD, even to the priest; beside the ram of the atonement, whereby an atonement shall be made for him.

The above verses represent what is said here in James.

Jas 5:14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
Jas 5:15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
Jas 5:16 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.

Let’s look again at Numbers 5:7:

Num 5:7 Then they shall confess their sin which they have done: and he shall recompense his trespass with the principal thereof, and add unto it the fifth part thereof, and give it unto him against whom he hath trespassed.

Remember this “As you have done it unto the least of these you have done it to me” (Mat 25:40).

“The principle” spoken of in Numbers 5:7 is here in 1 Corinthians 6:19–20 and Ephesians 5:2

1Co 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
1Co 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: (Christ) therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Eph 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

Christ is the principle payment, and this is “the fifth part” shown here in Romans 12:1-2.

Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

When you are conformed to the world, this is what you are.

Pro 29:11 A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.

Here is an email answered 11 years ago on the website as an example to what the world thinks about confessing our sins and Mikes answer.

Next is part of an email exchange among the elders answering my question of the proper way to confess our sins one to another.

We had an elderly brother ask the whole body on a study to pray for him to overcome a personal issue. Everyone on the call thought that particular way of asking for a spirit of contentment was not appropriate for such a public setting.

I have looked at the words ‘afflicted’ in James 5:13, and the word ‘sick’ in verse 14. The Greek word translated as ‘afflicted’ is ‘kakopatheo’, G2553, and these are the four times it appears in the New Testament:

Jas 5:13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
Jas 5:14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:

2Ti 2:3 Thou therefore endure hardness (G2553: ‘kakopatheo’), as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
2Ti 2:4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

2Ti 2:9 Wherein I suffer trouble (G2553: ‘kakopatheo’), as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound.

2Ti 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
2Ti 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
2Ti 4:5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions (G2553: ‘kakopatheo’), do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
2Ti 4:6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

And here in:

Jas 5:13 Is any among you afflicted (G2553: ‘kakopatheo’)? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.

‘Hardness… trouble… afflictions… and afflicted’ are the four ways this Greek word is translated, but in context it is used in reference to the “hardness” of being a soldier of Christ, the “troubles” of being counted as an evil doer for simply being obedient to Christ, the “afflictions” endured for remaining faithful while others “turn away their ears from the Truth”, and here in James 5:13, where being “afflicted” and praying to endure the affliction is contrasted with singing Psalms when we are merry.

Contrary to how the English word is often used today, this Greek word ‘kakopatheo‘ does not appear to be associated with the ‘affliction’ of a disease, or physical discomfort as we generally use the word, ‘afflicted’. The four times it is used are all in connection with the “hardness… troubles, and afflictions” of being a soldier of Christ.

But look at how James concludes this discussion concerning confessing our faults one to another and praying one for another. Notice verse 18:

Jas 5:13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
Jas 5:14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
Jas 5:15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
Jas 5:16 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 5:17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
Jas 5:18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.
Jas 5:19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;
Jas 5:20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

The word translated as ‘sick’ in verse 14 is ‘G770 astheneo‘, and it is translated as ‘weak’ more often than it is translated as ‘sick’:

G770 ἀσθενέω astheneō Total KJV Occurrences: 42 weak, 21 Act_20:35, Rom_4:19, Rom_8:3, Rom_14:1-2 (2), Rom_14:21, 1Co_8:9, 1Co_8:11-12 (2), 1Co_9:22 (3), 1Co_11:30, 2Co_10:10, 2Co_11:21, 2Co_11:29 (2), 2Co_12:10, 2Co_13:3-4 (2), 2Co_13:9 sick, 17 Mat_10:8, Mat_25:36, Mar_6:56, Luk_4:40, Luk_7:10, Luk_9:2, Joh_4:46, Joh_11:1-3 (3), Joh_11:6, Act_9:37, Act_19:12, Phi_2:26-27 (2), 2Ti_4:20, Jam_5:14 impotent, 2 Joh_5:3, Joh_5:7 diseased, 1 Joh_6:2

As you can see, this word is translated just slightly more as ‘weak’ than as ‘sick’. The point being, that a spiritually weak person is more apt to sin than a person who is “strong in the faith”. That is why we are told:

Rom 15:1 We then that are strong [in the faith, Rom 14:1] ought to bear the infirmities of the weak [in the faith, Rom 14:1], and not to please ourselves.

When we sin against our brother we are told:

Jas 5:16 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.

These instructions are a proactive version of:

Mat 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

Now notice what the fruit of both these instructions is. In Matthew we are instructed “go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone”. We are absolutely not to do this in public. It is to be done “between you and him alone”, and if he hears us we “have won our brother”.

Now notice the James 5, proactive version of the person who is committing the sin confessing his fault in private produces the same fruit. Again, this fruit is produced in private… NOT in public:

Jas 5:19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;
Jas 5:20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. 

Repentance is achieved… we have won our brother, and the sins are hidden and covered, not exposed:

Pro 17:9 He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.

The admonition is to “call for the elders” if we are ‘weak’ and let them pray, not the whole church. If we feel we have sinned, then confess our faults one to another privately, not before the whole church. The goal being to save a soul from death, [and to] hide a multitude of sin”.

Here is the conclusion:

Jas 5:13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray.

Psa 109:2 For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me: they have spoken against me with a lying tongue.
Psa 109:3 They compassed me about also with words of hatred; and fought against me without a cause.
Psa 109:4 For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer.
Psa 109:5 And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love.

Is any merry? let him sing psalms.

Psa 105:1 O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.
Psa 105:2 Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.
Psa 105:3 Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.

Jas 5:14 Is any sick (weak) among you?

Psa 109:23 I am gone like the shadow when it declineth: I am tossed up and down as the locust.
Psa 109:24 My knees are weak through fasting; and my flesh faileth of fatness.
Psa 109:25 I became also a reproach unto them: when they looked upon me they shaked their heads.
Psa 109:26 Help me, O LORD my God: O save me according to thy mercy:
Psa 109:27 That they may know that this is thy hand; that thou, LORD, hast done it.

Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:

Psa 55:18 He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me.
Psa 55:19 God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old. Selah. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.
Psa 55:20 He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him: he hath broken his covenant.
Psa 55:21 The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.
Psa 55:22 Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.
Psa 55:23 But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee.

Rom 15:1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

Jas 5:15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

Psa 103:1 A Psalm of David. Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Psa 103:2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
Psa 103:3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; (weaknesses)

Zec 12:8 In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them.
Zec 12:9 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.

Jas 5:16 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.

Num 5:6 Speak unto the children of Israel, When a man or woman shall commit any sin that men commit, to do a trespass against the LORD, and that person be guilty;
Num 5:7 Then they shall confess their sin which they have done: and he shall recompense his trespass with the principal thereof, and add unto it the fifth part thereof, and give it unto him against whom he hath trespassed.

Jas 5:17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
Jas 5:18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.
Jas 5:19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;
Jas 5:20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. 

Psa 32:1 A Psalm of David, Maschil. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Psa 32:2 Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
Psa 32:3 When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.
Psa 32:4 For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.
Psa 32:5 I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. 

Rom 4:6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Rom 4:7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.

Pro 10:12 Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.

Pro 28:13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

Joh 8:11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

Psa 51:1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
Psa 51:2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
Psa 51:3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
Psa 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.
Psa 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Psa 51:6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
Psa 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Psa 51:8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
Psa 51:9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.

Psa 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
Psa 51:18 Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
Psa 51:19 Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

Pro 28:5 Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things

Isa 44:21 Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me.
Isa 44:22 I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.
Isa 44:23 Sing, O ye heavens; for the LORD hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.

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