The first step to salvation is confession. But what shall we confess? Some Christians feel that a public renumeration of each sin is a requirement and that an official intermediary between you and God is necessary for the forgiveness of those sins. While we should all take a continuous inventory of our transgressions against God's laws and seek to improve our "track record," this is not what we mean by confession.
You are a sinner. I am a sinner. We are all, by our human nature, sinners. We are unique of God's creations in that we are both phyisical and spiritual beings. Because we are blessed with a soul, we are spiritual creations of God and have the capacity to recognize, worship, and glorify Him. However, because we are phsyical beings, we are inherently flawed, the physical portion of our nature causes an internal battle between our spiritual desires to Glorify God (living by the spriti), and our physical desries to glorify ourselves (living of the flesh).
Because of this conflict between our spiritual and earthly desires, we will never meet God's perfect standards. But there is good news! For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. (John 3:16-17)
The first step to God's salvation in Christ is to CONFESS that you are a sinner, that you do not deserve His salvation, and that you need His grace and forgiveness in order to be saved.
The next step toward salvation is to BELIEVE that:
a) We our powerless against sin,
b) Living a life for the flesh will result in our eternal death, and
c) God loves us enough to pay the price of our sin by sacrificing His only Son by sending Him to live amongst us, teach us His message of love, and die a most painful, tortuous deth on the cross.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
We cannot do it alone! We need God's love and grace for salvation. And most importantly, we will NEVER truly deserve his salvation through works alone. We will receive His salvation through His Love and Grace alone, but that is more than enough for an eternity in paradise!
It is not enough to say "I'm sorry" when you have wronged someone, especially if you know that you will commit the same offense tomorrow. God does not want us to spend our lives on Earth feeling guilty because we sin. He wants us to recognize the hold a sinful nature has on our lives and actively turn away from sin.
God wants us to REPENT from our sinful ways, literally, to turn away from living for the flesh and to turn toward living by the spirit.
Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. (Ezekiel 18:30)
God wants us to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. He wants us to be joyful. He wants us to live fruitful and fulfilling lives on Earth, with an even more rewardcing eternal life in paradise.
By REPENTING from our sinful ways, we are acknowledging that we are sinners and that we have committed offenses against God. We are admitting that we have failed to meet God's perfect standard. But more than this, we are also taking stock of our lives and understanding that these sins are harmful to us on an eternal scale, and we are making a personal commitment to focus our lives living by the spirit rather than living for the flesh.
But do not be discouraged. It is important to know that we cannot live perfectly in accordance to God's standard of perfection. Our life on Earth is but a growth stage to prepare us for an eternal life. Because we are growing and maturing in Christ, we will fall short of the mark. How can we grow if we have nothing for which to strive?
RECEIVE Christ in your life means more than merely saying that "I know the Bible" or "I believe in Christ." Truly RECEIVING Christ into your heart and life means to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
Accepting Jesus as your Lord means that you are subjecting yourself to God's sovereignty over us all. Because Jesus is Lord, does that mean we are no longer under the rule of man? Jesus Himself has something to say about this:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. (Matthew 5:17-18)
Accepting Jesus as your Lord means that you will submit yourself to a higher standard. You will live your daily life by the sprit, rather merely than by the law. You must do both!
Accepting Jesus as your Savior means that you have admitted that you are powerless against sin and that you have neither the authority nor the capacity to overcome evil alone. In today's egocentric age of self reliance, this is a difficult thing to admit. Surrender is often considered a negative term, meaning to give up or to quit. In accepting Jesus as your personal Savior, you must surrender your will to God's. You must let go of your selfish ways of the flesh and seek God's will in your daily life - not just praise God on Sinday mornings. You must ask yourself in all things, "How can I live my life (or do my job, or perform this task) in a way that would glorify God?"
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6-7)
You have completed the Four Step Method of Salvation! But wait, you're not quite done. Because of our sinful nature, we will face a constant struggle against earthly desires. Some feel that the real battle starts AFTER we have accepted Christ in our lives, because that is when Satan takes an even greater interest in luring us back into a life of sin and living for the flesh!
Remember, life on Earth is a growth stage where we learn to mature in Christ. We are preparing for an eternal life. The Four Step Method of Salvation is not a project so much as it is a process that we must repeat often in order to enjoy the benefits of slavation. Once we are truly saved and receive Christ into our hearts and lives, we are truly saved, but by continuing to follow these steps, we will remind ourselves that the struggle between our physical and spiritual desires is raging on. We are in the crossfire of a war, and we must never forget that once we have recevied Christ, He is on our side, and only together will we win.