Every Jack, Jill, and Harry has a Ph.D. in Divinity.
Jesus says: “Everyone who confesses me before men, him I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies me before men, him I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33).
How exactly do we confess Christ?
Confessing and denying
Many Christians take this to mean answering an altar call and declaring that Jesus is your Lord and Saviour.
This is based on Paul’s assertion that: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10).
However, Paul himself does not believe that a once-for-all declaration is sufficient. He writes to Titus about people who: “profess to know God, but in works they deny Him.” (Titus 1:6).
Christians readily confess our churches. We are quick to declare our denominations. But we do not confess Christ. In critical situations, we discover that we do not know Him. Or we pretend that He does not exist.
Do Christians know God? If you were to talk about aeronautical science, most people would shut up because they know nothing about it. But if you talk about God, everybody becomes an expert. Every Jack, Jill, and Harry has a Ph.D. in Divinity.
“But to the wicked God says: ‘What right have you to declare My statutes, or take My covenant in your mouth, seeing you hate instruction and cast My words behind you? When you saw a thief, you consented with him, and have been a partaker with adulterers. You give your mouth to evil, and your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done, and I kept silent; you thought that I was altogether like you.’” (Psalm 50:16-21).
Peter was the first person to “confess” Christ. When Jesus asked His disciples who they say He is, Peter said to Him: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16). But this same Peter went on to deny knowing Christ not once, but three times on the trot when He was arrested.
Peter denied Christ, saying: “I don’t know the man.” How do we say: “I don’t know Christ” today? We deny Christ when we tell a lie. We deny Christ when we cheat and steal.
When Peter denied Christ, Jesus was in the same room. Peter looked up and saw Jesus looking directly at him. Their eyes locked.
Similarly, when we tell a lie, Jesus is right there with us. He is right there in the room. And yet, we say we do not know Him. We talk as if He does not exist. Then we go to church and sing, “Praising the Lord, always.”
Jesus maintains He is not interested in lip-service confessions. He says: “You will recognize them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:20-23).
This shows that even preaching the gospel and engaging in evangelism is not enough. Confessing Christ before men means living according to the way, the truth. and the life. (John 14:6).
When we confess Christ, we fail at the job interview because we tell the truth. But when we confess the devil, we get the job because we tell a lie.
When we confess Christ, we must resign our appointment because we are required to cook the books. But when we deny Christ, we say we are thirty when we are forty. When we confess Christ, we call a spade a spade. But when we deny Christ, a spade easily becomes a cutlass.
Failing the test
Bolaji was taking her exams and everybody in the centre was cheating, with the connivance of the invigilator who had been bought over. Does she join them and succeed, or does she ignore them and come last?
Should she decide to pass her exam, or should she agree to fail? If she passes, she denies Christ. If she fails, she confesses Him. If she fails, she cannot gain the world. But if she passes, the world is her oyster.
Therefore, Jesus says: “Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:35-37).
With God, the decision to fail in the name of righteousness amounts to good success, while the decision to pass through unrighteousness amounts to bad success.
Accordingly, God said to Joshua: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:8).
In effect, the requirement to confess Christ is not a call to hypocrisy. Jesus says to His disciples: “You shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8).
We witness to Jesus by being like Jesus. We witness to Jesus by being the Jesus that people will meet in the flesh. That means you cannot confess Christ without first denying yourself. Denying yourself means you no longer exist. When you confess Christ, you lose your life. Christ becomes your life. (Colossians 3:4).
Denying yourself means that: “the sharing of your faith (will) become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.” (Philem 6:7).
This is where the confession process becomes troublesome. Confessing Christ is costly. It takes us out of our comfort zones. It requires us to carry our crosses and follow Jesus. It means we are naked and not ashamed.
To confess Christ as your healer, you need to fall seriously sick. To confess Him as your provider, you need to become seriously broke. To confess Him as the resurrection and the Life, you need to fall down and die.
Moreover, since Christ is a rock of offence, we become offensive to people in the world. They cannot rely on us to back them up with lies. They take offence that we refuse to walk with them: “in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.” (1 Peter 4:3).
Confessing Christ sets sons against fathers, daughters against mothers, and daughters-in-law against mothers-in-law. According to Jesus, when we confess Him, our enemies will become members of our own household. (Matthew 10:34-36).
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