DYNAMICS OF PRAYER - THE CONFESSION OF SINS
Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert... Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters (Jer 17: 5-8).
One believer is cursed, the other blessed. The difference is what they are trusting in, relying on, looking to - natural things or the Lord. We could say the difference is in their prayer-lives. Prayer should be like breathing - a continual activity. The believer who continually turns to the Lord in prayer is blessed and enjoys fellowship with the Lord. The other trusts in the flesh and dries up spiritually.
The spiritual life is like travelling down the highway of God's will. We are on this road as long as we are in FELLOWSHIP with Him, hearing His Word, praying and praising. Then all the time we are progressing with God and in fulfilling our destiny. 'If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin' (1John 1:7). But when we sin it is like taking a wrong turning and we leave the road and lose our bearings. We have stopped making progress. All the time off the road is wasted time. To get back on track we have to realise we have made a wrong turn, turn around and go back to where we left the road. Many Christians are out of fellowship and have lost their spiritual bearings. It is pointless trying to put other things right until they are restored to fellowship. 'Can two (us and God) walk together unless they be agreed?' (Amos 3:3).
The way back into fellowship is to confess our sin to God.
TO CONFESS means to say the same thing as, to agree with God that it is sin. It is the opposite of MINIMISING and EXCUSING. It is to plead guilty to the charges made by conscience, to admit and acknowledge our sin.
This is how you expel sin from your life.
'If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness' (1John 1:9).
The Lord's Prayer takes us through all kinds of prayer including CONFESSION of sins: 'Forgive us our sins (debts).'
Unconfessed sins are like unpaid debts that weigh upon us and stop us going forward with God. 'Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race set before us' (Hebrews 12:1).
God has provided a simple way to lay aside the sins that burden us by confessing them to God. People whose spiritual growth and progress has stopped is usually because they are unwilling to face up to and confess a sin, but they pay a great price, missing the presence and blessing of God.
To confess or not to confess a sin is the difference between going forward or backwards spiritually.
Isaiah had a vision of the glory of God and the heavenly worship (Isaiah 6:1-3). He was standing at the door but could not enter in because of conviction of his sin (v4). Often as you enter into God's Presence, a sin will be highlighted. But he confessed his sin: 'Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts' (v5).
In response He was forgiven and cleansed:
'Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal from the altar (with the blood of sacrifice on it) and he touched my mouth with it, and said: 'Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away,and your sin purged' (v6,7).
He could then go forward into God's presence where he heard his call into ministry (v8).
HIDING SIN CAUSES DISTRESS of soul and body, but CONFESSION brings relief and happiness: 'He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. Happy is the man who is always reverent, but he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity' (Proverbs 28:13,14).
'The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion' (Prov 28:1). The effect of a guilty conscience is fear from feeling insecure and vulnerable. Often they take innocent words as personal attacks.
This is graphically illustrated in the story of DAVID and BATHSHEBA (2 Samuel 11 and 12).
David first committed ADULTERY and then tried to COVER UP his sin by MURDERING Uriah, an honourable man devoted to David! He continued to cover it up. The weight of the burden of guilt weighed on him causing anxiety and depression and pychosomatic sickness that we read about in PSALM 38 -a Psalm of David that he wrote to remember what he went through because he did not confess his sin:
'O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your wrath, nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure! For Your arrows (his conscience) pierce me deeply, and Your hand presses me down (depression). There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your anger, nor any health in my bones because of my sin (he was suffering sickness as a result). For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me (the guilt of unconfessed sin). My wounds are foul and festering because of my foolishness. I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. For my loins are full of inflammation, and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and severely broken; I groan because of the turmoil of my heart (pychosomatic disorder). Lord, all my desire is before You; and my sighing is not hidden from You. My heart pants, my strength fails me; as for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me. My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague, and my relatives stand afar off (isolation). Those also who seek my life lay snares for me; those who seek my hurt speak of destruction, and plan deception all the day long (fear and paranoia?) ...I am like a man who does not hear, and in whose mouth is no response (confusion and loss of confidence) ....For I am ready to fall, and my sorrow is continually before me (despair).'
THEN HE GIVES THE SIMPLE REMEDY: 'For I will declare my iniquity; I will be in anguish over my sin ... help me, O Lord, my salvation!'
The LORD sent Nathan to David who told him a parable about a rich man (David) stealing the only lamb possessed by a poor man, instead of using his own. David's anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, 'As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die!' His OVER THE TOP reaction shows that we often judge others harshly for the very thing we are guilty of.
'Then Nathan said to David, 'You are the man!'' and he described David's sin in great detail. He did it to bring David to confession and forgiveness (to forgive is not to MINIMISE sin).
David confessed fully, 'I have sinned against the LORD.' And Nathan said to David, 'The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.'
DAVID'S FULL PRAYER OF CONFESSION is PSALM 51:
'A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your loving-kindness;
according to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight - that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge.....
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones You have broken may rejoice (when out of fellowship you lose your joy and your whole life is out of joint).
Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit (anointing to minister) from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.'
Receiving forgiveness should be followed by REDEDICATION:
'Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise ....The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart - these, O God, You will not despise.'
In PSALM 32:1-5: David contemplates and summarises what he learnt
- HIDING SIN CAUSES DISTRESS of soul and of body. CONFESSION brings relief and happiness:
'Blessed (happy) is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit (hidden, unconfessed sin). When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me (depression); my vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah. (But then) I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the LORD' and You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah.'
A prayer of confession and rededication:
'Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you that as I come to You, You will not cast me out. I confess my sin to you now. I am sorry- please forgive me. I thank You that You are faithful to forgive me and to cleanse me from my sin, by the blood of Jesus.
So now I am back in fellowship with You, Father.
I rededicate myself to You, Lord to do your will and put You first. Amen.