June 10, 2024

Rob Campbell
“Is anyone among you sick? 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. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
James 5:14-16 NKJV

Let’s begin with context. James is the half-brother of Jesus, and this book is addressed to Jewish believers, who were dispersed outside Israel (James 1:1). The book of James emphasizes wisdom, obedience, and practical action.  I’ve heard this book called “Christianity in Overalls.” Most agree that the book’s main theme is James 1:22, which says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says”.

This week, we will drill down on “confess your sins to one another.” Let’s begin with the text above. In verse fifteen, the word “sins” is translated from the Greek word “harmatia.” This word means “to sin.” It covers any type of sin.  In verse sixteen, the word “trespasses” (“sin” in many translations) is translated from the Greek word “paratoma.” This word is always referring to a trespass that a person commits that offends or affects another person negatively. These two words can be seen in the same verse in Ephesians 2:1, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.”

When we “trespass” against another person, we are commanded to confess our sins(s) to the person we offended and pray for each other, so “that you may be healed.” Now, confession may scare you, but please know that confess means “to agree,” “to admit,” or “to say the same thing.” Confession is saying the same thing as God does about sin or having the same perspective on sin as God does.

Let me conclude with this thought from author, Roger Ellsworth, who sheds further light on why we should confess our sins to one another: “Confession should always be as wide as the sin. If we have sinned secretly, we should confess it to God. If we have sinned against someone else, we should confess it to God and to the person whom we have wronged. And if we have sinned publicly, we should confess it to God and in public.”