Finding Freedom and Forgiveness from Sexual Sin

A few weeks ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to teach at our church’s high school retreat. It was a fruitful (and . . . um . . . sanctifying) experience. After weeks of preparing for, praying over, and pouring our hearts into the sessions, we were so excited to finally teach them together. The retreat weekend arrived, and we found ourselves rushing to get out of the door. Feeling frazzled, frustrated, and slightly annoyed at each other, we headed on our way. ⁣ As the hour-long car ride stretched on, our disagreements and frustrations only worsened. And here’s the ironic part. We were scheduled to teach our first session that night, and it was literally on the topic of “Genuine Confession and Forgiveness.” Perfect. Thankfully, our weeks of prepping actually equipped us for this very moment. ⁣ As we reached our destination, we both knew we couldn’t go inside yet. We needed to put into practice what we were about to preach. Swallowing our pride, we prayed together and asked God to give us hearts of humility and love for one another. As we talked things out, we were able to pursue genuine confession and forgiveness right there on the spot. ⁣⁣ Being a Christian isn’t about being perfect. It’s about being genuine enough to admit when you sin, seek authentic reconciliation, and then move forward in Christ-centered forgiveness. Confession isn’t something we like to talk about because it can seem negative and gloomy. However, when understood from a biblical perspective, it’s actually a beautiful thing. Genuine confession is a crucial element of living an authentic Christian life.

Lay Down the Burden

As we’ve talked about God’s design for sexuality this past week, you may have some things weighing heavy on your heart. You may have some past regrets that haven’t been dealt with yet. Sister, I want you to know that there is no sin too great for the cross of Jesus to cover. Don’t carry these burdens alone any longer. Bring your sexual sin to Jesus in genuine repentance, and He will forgive you. As I say in my new book, Sex, Purity, and the Longings of a Girl’s Heart:

For each of us, the first step toward victory from sin is to recognize that we have sinned against God and are in need of His forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Our God is full of grace and forgiveness, willing to receive and forgive any who seek Him.

God calls us to genuine confession because true joy is found in Christ through the forgiveness of our sins. As one author says on the Desiring God blog, “Confession of sin, ultimately, is the application of the gospel.” We are all sinners and will inevitably sin against God and one another. Confessing our sins to God not only restores our relationship with Him, it also restores our relationship with those we’ve sinned against. Confession begins with a humble acknowledgment of our sin before God. It leads us down the path of faithfully pursuing reconciliation with others and asking for their forgiveness.

Our Good Prosecuting Attorney

Confession fuels our gratitude for Christ and reminds us that He died in our place and bore the punishment for our sin. Psalm 32:1–5 paints a powerful picture for us:

Blessed [happy] is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

This passage makes it extremely clear that confessing our sin and being honest about it leads to true joy. This psalm also makes it clear that unconfessed sin and hidden sin will lead to sorrow and even physical pain. The guilt and shame we feel regarding our sexual sin is God’s way of helping us pursue confession and freedom. In fact, one of the roles the Holy Spirit plays in our lives is to convict us of our sin in order to lead us toward repentance and truth (John 16:8). The word “convict” is actually a translation of the Greek word elencho, which means “to convince someone of the truth.” As one author put it, “The Holy Spirit acts as our personal prosecuting attorney by exposing evil, reproving evil, and convincing us that we need a Savior.” When we’re convicted of sin, we need to be intentional to respond quickly to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. Putting it off or ignoring our sin could lead to a hardened heart, a seared conscience, or feelings of indifference toward sin. Plus, it keeps us from experiencing true joy in Christ. As challenging as confession may be, God is calling each one of us to be faithful in this area for our own good and His glory. True Christianity isn’t pretending that everything is fine but being honest about our sin struggles and confessing them to God and others. There was a time in my life as a teen when I struggled with lustful, sexual sin and wasn’t honest about it. This went on for several years, and I began to lack genuine joy in Christ as a result. It wasn’t until I confessed my sin to God (and got help from others) that I truly experienced freedom. I can personally attest to what Psalm 32 says about finding joy and happiness in being forgiven!

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

Confess and Cling

Sister, don’t hold onto sexual sin. In the end, it’s not worth it. I want to personally encourage you to take some time today to genuinely examine your heart before the Lord. Do you have any unconfessed sin that needs to be dealt with between you and God? Have you sinned against someone else and need to pursue reconciliation with them? Remember, confession may be hard in the moment, but you will find true joy in Christ on the other side. Cling to the promises of 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Hallelujah! Let’s chat below!

  • Have you ever experienced physical pain as a result of unconfessed sin in your life?
  • What do you find most challenging about pursuing genuine confession?

About the Author

Kristen Clark

Kristen Clark is the co-founder of GirlDefined Ministries and co-author of several books, including Girl Defined and Not Part of the Plan. She is passionate about promoting the message of God-defined womanhood through blogging, speaking, mentoring young women, and hosting Bible studies in her living room. Kristen is married to her best friend, Zack, and they have two sons.