Saturday, August 28, 2010

WHERE HAVE CONFESSION AND REPENTANCE GONE?

CONFESSION AND REPENTANCE
A. Brother
©2010 Narrowgate Publishing



“If we claim to be without sin,
we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just
and will forgive us our sins
and purify us from all unrighteousness. 
If we claim we have not sinned,
we make Him out to be a liar
and His Word has no place in our lives.” 
1 John 1:8-10

“For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me. 
Against You, You only have I sinned
and done what is evil in Your sight…
Surely You desire truth in the inward parts…”
Psalm 51:3,4,6

Confession is not just good for the soul, as the old saying goes, it is essential at all times for true communion with God.  Only men and women who have hearts deeply repentant for their sinfulness can know the depths of God’s love.
 
Jesus said this about the fruit of confession and repentance:

“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins
have been forgiven---for she loved much. 
But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” 
Luke 7:47

The woman, a common prostitute, had come into the Pharisee’s house when he had Jesus over for dinner.  She just showed up, and proceeded to kneel at the Lord’s feet, weeping.  She wet his feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair, kissed His feet, and poured perfume on them.

The Lord Jesus commended her, and forgave her many sins.  The Pharisee was offended, because all he could see was his own righteousness in relation to the woman’s sinfulness.  But Jesus didn’t care.  He showed his disciples and all of us who would follow the Lord, that understanding our sin and confessing it is essential to having love for God, and for knowing His love in return.

The man who thinks he has little sin in his life will experience little forgiveness and have little love.  That’s how it works.

Those of us who would be close to God the Father and His Son Jesus must learn our own sinfulness.  We must, like David, be willing to constantly confess and turn away from our sins.  We will sin, but we have the great high priest, the Lord Jesus, who is our advocate with the Father when we do sin.  To confess our sin is not a sign of weakness, it is proof we love God.  To kneel at Jesus’ feet weeping over our sins and wiping His feet with our tears is a beautiful thing in God’s eyes.  To love Him is a satisfying perfume that pleases Him.  To know His forgiveness is to love much.

The apostle John knew all about Jesus’ love.  He talked about it constantly in his letters, and emphasized it in his gospel.  This love sprang from having been forgiven much, and knowing true repentance daily in his soul.  Like David, Peter, Paul, and a host of other men in Scripture, John knew his own deeply sinful nature, acknowledged it constantly before God, and so had become a lover of God. 

John knew that the one who is forgiven much, loves much, and the one who would be forgiven must learn to love.  They go hand in hand.  The man who loves much will forgive, and be forgiven.  The man who doesn’t love hasn’t learned God’s love, and therefore won’t forgive others, and won’t be forgiven himself.  These interlocking truths were core teachings of Jesus.

When David sinned by lusting after Bathsheba, having her husband killed, and then taking her as his wife, he resisted confession and repentance for a time.  He hardened his heart and refused to acknowledge his sin.  This terrible sin was taking his very life away, and he had no true communion with God during the months he lived without forgiveness. 

This is the essence of what John says in the first chapter of his first letter.  That when a man or woman refuses to admit their guilt and sin, they are out of fellowship with the Father and His Son, and with their brethren in Christ.  They are hypocrites, and the Word of God is not in them.

We in the churches of God must learn this truth, or perish.  Keep in mind that God is no respecter of position or affluence.  You may be King, or you may be a pauper.  But all must confess and repent of their sin daily, or be lost.
 
There are many in the churches who live as if they are minor sinners, and really have nothing much to confess.  That is why confession has gone out of our gatherings, and out of our sermons, and out of our songs.  We don’t think we need it.  We really feel pretty good about ourselves, and we think we’re just doing fine.  We don’t identify with David, or Paul, or John, or the repentant prostitute.
 
We are like the Pharisee, my friends, who could only mutter to himself about the woman not being good enough for Jesus to touch.  He had that pride and arrogance we have today, that our position, our affluence, our good jobs, our nice homes and cars, our bank accounts, our busy lifestyles, all add up to our being approved by God.  Even our rich church buildings and busy church programs, and good sermons and many Bible classes attest to our spirituality.  So we ignore the Word of God for the sake of our traditions.

The Word of God makes it plain that confession and repentance is the constant activity of those who would know and love God.  This is not a one-time thing at the point of believing, it is the minute-by-minute privilege of those who love the Lord Jesus with all their hearts, and who recognize their own capacity for evil.  No matter how long they have walked with Him, they know they must be constantly on guard against their capacity to sin.
 
To the ones who truly love and know Jesus, sin is illumined in all its ugliness, and the things that seemed small are brought into the light.  All our hidden tendencies are spotlighted, and we see ourselves clearly.  And though we see our sin, we also see the love and light of Jesus’ forgiveness, and He restores the joy of our salvation, and grants us a willing and loving spirit to sustain us.

It is only through honest and sincere confession and forgiveness that we can approach God with confidence.  Our tentative, distant relationship with God gradually becomes real, and strong, and full of grateful love.

“For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but we have One who has been tempted
in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 
Let us then approach the throne of grace
with confidence, so that we may receive mercy
and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
--Heb. 4:15,16

Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, if you truly are in Christ you will go to your knees every day confessing and turning away from your sin.  You will not allow the enemy one foothold.  But if you do sin, you will have our great high priest Jesus, who died for every sin you will ever commit. 

But his dying for you is only effective in your honest acknowledgement and willingness to turn away from that sin.  Don’t think that your years in the church, your faithful service to religion, your position or affluence or membership or business for God makes you exempt.
 
On the contrary, those of us who claim leadership must set an example of humble, repentant lives, full of mercy and grace to help, as our Lord Jesus gave us the example Himself.  You must set the example of prayer and supplication for your own sins, and then be the example of love to others in their sins, because you have been forgiven much!


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