Prayer Pt 3 - Confession, Repentance, and Forgiveness
We are in the third message of a series on Prayer
In my opinion, prayer is the most important topic Christian can study
Why do I say that?
I say that because if you want to be successful in almost any endeavor you need to have good communication
I am not an expert military strategist, but I do know that one thing that military strategists like to do early in any engagement is interrupt communication
Because if troops cannot receive orders from those in command they cannot function effectively
If they can’t function effectively then it is unlikely that they will win the battle.
Why am I talking about communication and battles?
Because the Bible tells us in Ephesians 6
Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
This means that the root cause of the struggles we face is not the people we are dealing with, but the evil forces that are influencing them
The overwhelming majority of battles we face are spiritual battles
(the battle for my mind, the battle for peace, etc)
If I want to win a spiritual battle I need to follow the direction of my spiritual commander - e.g. God
If I do not know how to communicate with God, in other words, if I do not know how to pray, then how can I expect to win the spiritual battles that I face?
A couple weeks ago Pastor Michael started our series with what prayer is and what it isn’t
Last week I spoke about hearing from God
For the rest of our series we are going to be talking about specific types of prayer
The type of prayer we are talking about today is
Confession, Repentance, and Forgiveness
What I want to do is take a look at these three things in how they relate to prayer
Then I want to show a couple very good examples from Scripture
The first thing we are going to explore this morning is
Confession simply means admitting what you have done
Owning up to any mistakes or misdeeds
Part of being a mature adult is owning up to the things you have done wrong
We all know people who never confess
They will never admit that they are wrong or that they made a mistake, regardless of the amount of evidence that they are shown
We see this all the time with major corporations and politicians
Everyone knows they flubbed their dub, yet they refuse to admit it
They always try to spin it in a way that makes it something positive, or, at the very least, not negative
They don’t want to admit to doing wrong because they feel it will make them look bad or reduce people’s trust in them
I don’t know about you, but I tend to trust people who own up to their junk way more than people who don’t
In fact, if you don’t own up to your mistakes and misdeeds, I am probably not going to trust you very much at all
None of us are perfect - we all make mistakes
Scripture says that all have sinned
In fact, the Bible tells us that if we say we have no sin that the truth is not in us
Confession requires honesty and maturity
Most of you have probably heard the phrase “Confession is good for the soul” - I agree with that completely
Confessing helps alleviate guilt and the stress caused by guilt
I also believe that it is healthy to confess not only our wrong actions, but also our temptations
Why do I say that?
Because often the act of shining light on our temptations removes the power they have over us
Example - a couple years ago I was in my office on a Saturday night working on a sermon when I had an almost overwhelming urge to go online and look at inappropriate websites
So, what did I do?
I picked up the phone and called someone I trusted
I told them what I the temptation was and how overwhelming it felt
They prayed for me, and like I knew they would, they followed up with me and asked if I gave in to the temptation
I can honestly say that the moment I openly confessed that temptation and received prayer the urge went away
Shining the light in the darkness takes care of the shadows of temptation
Sometimes confession can be a good reminder
I love going to AA meetings and try to hit at least one a week
At AA one of the things people do when they introduce themselves is say their name and then state “and I’m an alcoholic” or “I’m an addict”
I’ve heard many people, especially those in the church, say things like “don’t declare that over you life”
I know these people mean well, and there is some truth in what they are saying
It’s a psychological fact that negative declarations can negatively affect your well being
People who constantly say things like “I’m fat, I’m dumb, I’m worthless, Nobody could ever love me, etc” usually do not have a good self image at all
Since Jesus said that we are to love our neighbor as we love ourself that means that if I cannot love myself, I can’t love you very well either
However, with that being said, there is another way to make a declaration that to some may sound negative, but in reality is positive
In a 12 step meeting when someone says “I’m an alcoholic: or “I’m an addict” it is not a negative declaration but a positive one
The person is saying “I have an area of weakness in my life and need to be on guard”
The alcoholic or addict knows that even though they are currently walking in victory all it takes is one moment of weakness and they are right back in active addiction
So, back on track here
Confession is good for the soul
It’s the first step in improving our relationship with God
It’s an easy prayer to pray, yet a very hard one as well!
Confess to the person or people we have wronged (whenever possible/whenever it won’t cause harm)
Confess to God (always)
Ezra 9:6-15 "O my God, I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens. 7 From the days of our forefathers until now, our guilt has been great. Because of our sins, we and our kings and our priests have been subjected to the sword and captivity, to pillage and humiliation at the hand of foreign kings, as it is today. 8 "But now, for a brief moment, the LORD our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage. 9 Though we are slaves, our God has not deserted us in our bondage. He has shown us kindness in the sight of the kings of Persia: He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, and he has given us a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem. 10 "But now, O our God, what can we say after this? For we have disregarded the commands 11 you gave through your servants the prophets when you said: 'The land you are entering to possess is a land polluted by the corruption of its peoples. By their detestable practices they have filled it with their impurity from one end to the other. 12 Therefore, do not give your daughters in marriage to their sons or take their daughters for your sons. Do not seek a treaty of friendship with them at any time, that you may be strong and eat the good things of the land and leave it to your children as an everlasting inheritance.'
Many may think that confession and repentance are the same thing - they are not
You can confess without ever repenting
Repentance is a verb, an action
It means to turn away from whatever it is you are repenting from
To make every effort to not do it again
Repentance means you sorry - not just saying that you are sorry, but genuinely sorry
Repentance means trying to make things right with whoever you have wronged
(Background of David & Bathsheba 2 Samuel 11)
Psalm 51:1-19 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. 6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. 7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. 14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. 15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. 18 In your good pleasure make Zion prosper; build up the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then there will be righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings to delight you; then bulls will be offered on your altar.
The Bible says that there is no sin that God will not forgive (1 John 1:9)
The key is confession and repentance
I am also told in Scripture that I will be forgiven exactly as I forgive others
What does it mean to forgive others?
If we confess and repent, God will forgive us
You cannot out sin the the grace of God
God’s grace is always bigger than our sin
Remember the story of the tax collector and the Pharisee from Pastor Michael’s message a couple weeks ago?
Pharisee - very religious, followed all the rules etc
Tax collector - worst of the worst in society, traitor, thief
Luke 18:9-14 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' 13 "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' 14 "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
What was the difference between the 2 men?
The Pharisee didn’t think he had any problems
He thought he was following all the rules and that everything between him and God was fine
He even felt self righteous and judged the tax collector
The tax collector, on the other hand, realized he was a sinner and called out to God for forgiveness
If I don’t think I have done anything wrong then I can’t really confess
If I can’t confess then I can’t repent
If I can’t repent, then I can’t be forgiven