12 Dec 2017

The Power of Confession [Episode 15]

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I remember the first time I got a serious virus on my computer. Out of the blue one day my computer began to malfunction horribly. Many programs wouldn’t run. I could not search for anything on the internet because pop-ups would cascade all over my screen. The virus wreaked havoc on my computer and took hours to cure. It was a miserable experience that was completely avoidable.

If I had only installed an anti-virus software, I could have avoided the whole mess. Fortunately, I lost nothing. I just found my life unnecessarily complicated. The time and productive frustrating. I find myself wondering after the experience, “How often does this same drama play itself out in my spiritual life?”
Disobedience and neglect of God slowly infects your life like a virus. You can avoid most of the damaging effects though by investing time in self-examination and confession. Like an anti-virus software, a discipline of confession identifies problems and eliminates them before they get out of control.

Three Specific Benefits of Confession

Let’s look at what scripture has to say about the transformation confession brings.
1) Confessing sin leads to healing. James 5:16 states,

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

Every sin is a like a bacteria or virus in your system making you spiritually, mentally, and emotionally ill. Confession begins the healing process of removing toxins from your life.
2) Confession is instrumental in God’s forgiveness of us. 1 John 1:9 says

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Similarly Proverbs 28:13 says,

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

We cannot work our way into forgiveness. We can only come to God in faith and trust in His mercy and receive his grace. Confession is the doorway for that forgiveness.
3) Confession leads to a time of refreshing. Acts 3:19-20 says,

“Repent then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”

Like my computer, once I scanned I found the virus and eliminated it. My computer was restore as if it was new. Similarly, when sin is removed from our lives we find new life, a refreshed, vibrant, good life.

Three Easy-to-Follow Guidelines for Creating a Powerful Discipline of Confession

Follow these three if you want to experience the full power of confession most rapidly.

1) Commit to a REGULAR discipline of confession. Do not wait until your life is a wreck and then confess what is undeniably obvious. Create a discipline of each day of examining how were you faithful. And how were you not faithful. Think of this time of self-examination as running an anti-virus software. You run the software regularly to catch things BEFORE they become problematic.

2) Follow a THOROUGH discipline of confession. When you run an anti-virus software it systematically goes through every one of your folders and files on your system. I suggest having something as a structure when you get started. For one Lenten season I used a prayer from the book of Confession as a guide for my time of confession. The prayer was:

Most Merciful God,
I confess that I have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what I have done,
and by what I have left undone.
I have not loved You with my whole heart;
I have not loved my neighbor as myself.
I am truly sorry and I humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on me and forgive me;
that I may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.
The key here is for the prayer to be a guide for holistically considering your faithfulness to God. Rather than just having a time of asking yourself broadly, “How did I sin today?” Each phrase functions as a prompt for areas you might not otherwise consider.

Practically speaking what you want to do is read the pray one phrase or word at a time pausing frequently. Do not mindlessly mouth the words like some magic formula. Consider each phrase and how it plays out specifically in your life. For example, what have been the specific thoughts, words, or deeds that you have done or left undone? How have you not loved God with your whole heart? Which brings me to my last recommendation and that is…

3) Be specific when confessing

For example, rather than just saying, “I have not loved my neighbor as myself.” Think of the specific ways you neglected to love someone. Confess to God something you said that was hurtful or mean-spirited. Share with God an obvious need you could of addressed but chose to overlook.

If you don’t get specific you will just treat the problem at a very surface level and the virus will just come back. When I was cleaning up my computer, I tried deleting a few files that were causing obvious problems. This gave me a momentary reprieve. Unfortunately, almost immediately my computer spiraled back down into a pit of dysfunction. The problem — I wasn’t digging deep enough. I had to laser focus in and remove every scrap of the virus. When I missed pieces the virus just re-infested rapidly. The same will happen if you aren’t specific and dig deep with sin.

In Conclusion

I’ll confess right now as I am writing this, I’m not on my A game with confession and I’m preaching mostly to myself so I get back to a place of having a REGULAR, THOROUGH, AND SPECIFIC discipline of confession.

Because I know from my experience in the past, that if I do, the resulting peace is amazing. I sleep more soundly, I function better. I am not pained by guilt. I spend my time on godly pursuits instead of sinful ones and most importantly my sense of intimacy with God swells.
What I’ve found is that self-examination and reflection shapes you. Over time the Holy Spirit reveals just how great the gaps are in your life and helps you through them. If you don’t examine your actions and confess sin daily. Use the prayer I’ve shared as your guide. Implement the three guidelines to stop sin before it becomes too damaging or gets out of control.

P.S. If you enjoyed this post and are serious about improving your prayer life immediately click here to check my book on prayer that has been downloaded by over 10,000 people. CLICK HERE.

4 Responses

  1. Pingback : A.C.T.S. Prayer, A Simple Key to Greater Breadth and Depth in Prayer | The Practical Disciple

  2. Arlene

    As I read this, the Holy Spirit showed me that when I don’t pray specifically it is because I don’t want to face my sin. I want to ignore it or I am not willing to let go of my hurt, anger or whatever I am hanging onto at the moment.
    Thank you for helping me actually acknowledge that to myself because though I knew it I kept sweeping it under the rug so I wouldn’t have to face the truth.

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