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Read Introduction to James


“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.”


and pray for one another,

Not only should Christians confess sin against each other, but they should pray for one another so that God would heal them.  We can come to a place where we cannot pray for ourselves and need the prayer of mature leaders who walk in fellowship with God.  When a believer in need admits that need and accepts the help of a Spirit-filled leader, he is on the road to recovery.  The leader extends grace to the believer in decline; he does not put a proposal of penitence on him. 

Ga 6:1, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness [in-wrought grace – I receive grace so I should extend grace], considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”

that you may be healed.

The word “that” introduces a purpose clause.  The purpose of praying for each other is that there would be spiritual healing.  The word “healed” does not always necessarily imply physical healing.  Here it refers to a restoration to spiritual wholeness as well as physical healing, the sin unto death. 

Hebrews uses “healed” of spiritual restoration (He 12:12-13).  Peter uses this word for healing from sin (1 Pe 2:24).  The usage in this verse probably refers to forgiveness.  God can heal the sin of unrighteous behavior.  Matthew uses “healed” for spiritual healing. 

Matthew 13:15,For the hearts of this people have grown dull.

            Their ears are hard of hearing,

            And their eyes they have closed,

            Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,

            Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,

So that I should heal them.”


Transparency and acceptance go hand in hand. 


Confession of sin should stay within the sphere of the nature of that particular sin.  Private sin requires private confession and public sin requires public confession.  Public sin is anything that brings reproach on the body of Christ (the church).  We confess private sin privately and public sin publicly.  It does not profit the Christian community to hang dirty wash in public.

We should confess private sins privately.  Transparency and acceptance go hand in hand.  Confession of sin should not go beyond the sphere of the sin.  Openness toward sin creates a cleansing in the soul.  An open, caring, mature church is a healthy community.  It is a place where Christians should take their masks off and let others know their true needs. 

Pr 28:13, “He who covers his sins will not prosper,

But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”

True fellowship depends on openness and trust.  Isolation creates its own danger.  It is much easier to compartmentalize sin if we do not share it.  Sharing creates accountability for us as well as others.  Secret sin is difficult to cure. 

Confession is not an absolute but an offer to bless those out of orbit with the Lord.