Over the past few years, we have heard all kinds of complaining
about the name of God. We hear about them trying to take God out
of the schools, out of the courthouses, off our money and out of
the pledge. Many people, including Christians, have been up in
arms about all these issues. Some Christians suggest we need to be
campaigning to make sure these issues are resolved in God’s
favor. However, I have noticed something in my Bible. God never
once talked about any of these issues. The Scripture never once
mandates prayer be in schools, the 10 commandments be displayed in
courtrooms, our money display trust in God or our national pledge
mention His name. Don’t misunderstand. I like these things. I
think they are good. I’d like to live in a country that upholds
them all. But I begin to wonder if Satan isn’t distracting us
from the real fights we need to have by these fake fights that
promote symbolism over substance. What good are we accomplishing
if we force the schools to allow prayers, but never teach anyone
to pray? If we get the 10 Commandments displayed in courtrooms,
but never convince anyone to live by God’s will? If we keep the
words “In God We Trust” on our money, but never convince
anyone not to trust in money? If we keep “One nation under
God” in the pledge, but never help anyone submit to God? We feel
good when we rant and rave about the political issues. We feel
like we are doing something for the Lord. But we are not. These
issues are symbolism over substance. God has not asked for these
things, rather He has asked that we confess Him in our lives.
Specifically, we see this in relation to Jesus in Matthew
10:32-33. Jesus said we must confess Him before men. We
need to understand God is not concerned with whether teachers are
allowed to lead students in prayer, but whether or not we pray. He
is not concerned with where the 10 Commandments are displayed, but
with whether or not we follow His will. He is not concerned with
what is written on our money, but what is written on our hearts.
He is not concerned with how we word our pledge to our country,
but with how we demonstrate our allegiance to Him. We must learn
to confess Jesus, we must learn to confess God and we must learn
to do it in ways that really matter. No it won’t be as glamorous
as attacking our congress for some of its laws, but it will be
what God wants.
Confession in word.
Confession is, in general, an action of speech. The word
for “confess” is homologeo,
which literally means same word. At its root, then, confession in
a spiritual matter means to say the same thing about something God
says about it. Confessing God, means to say the same thing about
God that He says about Himself. Confessing God means to say about
Him all the things we have learned throughout our Focus about Him.
We confess God by praising Him. Psalm
29:1-2 says we should ascribe to the Lord the glory due
His name. He deserves praise. When we take time to think of who
and what He is and verbally declare His greatness, as illustrated
4:8-11, we are saying about Him what He says about
We confess God by teaching about Him. In I
Corinthians 15:34, Paul rebuked the Corinthians because
some people had no knowledge of God. We are supposed to tell
others about God. Paul set an example on Mars Hill in Acts
17:23 proclaiming to the people their “unknown God.”
Corinthians 5:11, Paul said he knew the fear of the Lord
and therefore tried to persuade them about God. If we are going to
confess Jesus, confess God, it is not enough to make sure the
pledge or our money contains His name, we actually have to teach
about this God they proclaim we are under and trust.
We confess God by our daily conversation. How often is God
part of our conversation? This is different from specific attempts
to teach about God. This is letting God and God’s things be part
of our common conversations with others. When folks compliment us,
do we tell them about God’s grace? When folks ask what is going
on in our lives, do we mention God’s involvement? When good
things happen, do we acknowledge God before others by praising
Him? Or do we try to leave out mentioning spiritual things because
we are afraid it might offend others or anger them or that they
will think we are odd? We don’t ever see any examples of mere
conversations in the New Testament. However, I believe Acts
16:25 is an example of this principle. Paul and Silas were
not purposefully and specifically trying to teach anyone. Rather,
praise was just part of their lives and so they praised God in
front of other people.
If we are going to confess God, we must make sure not to
use His name vainly or lightly. One of God’s Ten Commandments
for the Israelites was not to take the name of God in vain (Exodus
20:7). This same principle applies to us. When we speak of
God it must be with reverence. God’s name was not meant to be an
expletive of shock, fright or wonder. If we are going to say the
words “Oh my God,” it had better be because we are calling out
to our God with honor.
Confession in deed.
While confession is primarily an issue of speech, there is
a figurative sense in which we confess God with our actions as
5:16 encourages us to let our lights shine so the people
around us will see God and glorify Him. By our actions we declare
whether or not we believe what God says about Himself. If we
disobey God, then no matter what our mouths says, our actions say
we do not believe or trust Him. However, when we submit to His
will, our actions declare His greatness.
says everything we do in word and deed must be done in the name of
Jesus. Thus, in a sense, everything we do is supposed to be a
proclamation of Jesus’ name. In every walk of life, we must
allow the principles of God’s will to govern our lives and by so
doing we glorify and honor Him. I
Corinthians 10:31 says everything we do should be done to
glorify God, even down to how we eat and drink.
Consider one specific example of confessing God to the
world through actions. I
Timothy 4:3-5 says God made food to be received with
thanksgiving and it is sanctified through prayer. When we are in
the public eye, do we still offer thanks to God for our food? When
we are at a restaurant do we confess to the world that God is the
provider of our needs by praying? Or do we keep that under wraps
when we are out with others or in front of others? Do you see how
our actions can confess God as much as our words?
Confession in truth.
Having said the above about confessing God in word and
deed, I believe it is important to note Isaiah
48:1. God rebuked the Israelites because they confessed
Him, “but not in truth or right” (ESV). They confessed God in
word, they even went through some of the motions of God’s will,
but they did not do so sincerely or properly. As Jesus quoted
Isaiah in Matthew
15:8, these were people who honored God with their lips
but their hearts were far from Him.
If we are confessing God in word and deed, we must not play
the hypocrite. Confessing God in the assembly of the saints does
us no good if we are not confessing God throughout our lives. As Titus
2:11-14 explains, Christianity is about how we live every
day, not just how we “go to church” on Sunday.
Additionally, confessing God in truth means we are
confessing God for His glory, not our own. Matthew
5:16 said we should let our lights shine so others might
see Him through us and glorify Him. Matthew
6:1 warns against letting our light shine so others will
see how spiritual we are. We have to be very careful here. I have
been around people that liked to pray in front of people and
constantly said, “Praise the Lord” and “I’m blessed,”
and the feeling they left in their wake was not one of praising
God but displaying their own spirituality. Thus, we must walk a
fine line. We must make sure our light shines so others can see
God, not so they can see us.
If you want to debate about the words on our money or vote
about the Pledge of Allegiance, that is fine. But always remember,
God is not nearly so concerned with what is on our money as He is
with what is on our hearts. He is not nearly so concerned that we
campaign for Christian legislation as He is that we display
Christian lives. Voting about prayer in schools is easy.
Confessing God in word, deed and truth is not. God wants the
personal confession from our lives because He deserves it.
to God in the church by Christ Jesus
Church of Christ