If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 – NASB95)
Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, by telling the truth. Make your confession and tell me what you have done. Don’t hide it from me.” (Joshua 7:19 – NLT)
I heard a preacher once say, “Confession is good for the soul and bad for the reputation.” The second part may or may not be true, but the first part is true and absolutely essential for our soul health. That is why it is a shame that many professing followers of Jesus know little of the practice of sincere, humble, confession of sin accompanied by repentance. This Sunday, we will take time to look at this critical topic in depth, both in the morning Live streamed service and the 4pm in person outdoor service at The Bridge. In the morning we will study James 4:7-10, and at 4pm we will study Psalm 51. Studying for these two messages has profoundly impacted my own heart. The Word of God has caused me to see with fresh eyes how serious every one of my sins is and how my spiritual adultery so deeply hurts the heart of my Lord and Savior.
In the beatitudes, Jesus said things that seem contradictory. He said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Mt. 5:4). That specific word for “mourn” comes up twice in James 4:9. It is a profoundly emotional word that speaks of intense grief and sorrow at the death of a loved one. Jesus and James both tell us that we should feel that way toward our sin against God. Can I ask you some sincere questions? When was the last time you felt intense grief and sorrow over your sins? When was the last time that you cried because you offended your God and King? When was the last time you wailed and lamented because you repeated a sin that you promised God you would never do again?
In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel practiced what was called a “solemn assembly” during their annual festivals. It was a day of introspection, confession, and repentance so they might be set apart to God. Unfortunately, even their solemn assemblies turned into a ritual that they simply did externally without their hearts being truly in it and the prophets had to confront them about that as well (Isaiah 1:13-15). But when, from the heart, we repent of our sins, confess them, and cry out for forgiveness, it brings glory to God (see Joshua 7:19 above). I am fearful that this kind of heartfelt repentance and confession does not happen often enough in the lives of most believers today. And I believe this is the reason why so many people continue to struggle with the same sinful thoughts, attitudes, words, and actions over and over and over again.
I recorded the Sunday morning message last night. Warning: I forgot to mark the time I started to record the message so there’s a good chance it went long. By the time I was done preaching I was physically and emotionally drained. A few weeks ago, I was glad I was preaching to a camera when I spoke on spiritual adultery. Last night I was grieved when I couldn’t see people’s faces as I proclaimed these personal and very powerful truths. I wanted to see by your response if you were understanding the heart of James and the heart of God. I longed to cry with you as the Spirit opened your eyes to see how serious your sin is and how much God yearns for you to turn from it and run to Him. I wanted to reassure you that God’s grace truly is greater, and He can and will give you victory as you humble yourself before Him. But the Lord knew all of that millions of years prior to Covid-19 so I rest in the fact that He will do a mighty work whether I see it or not.
I will be praying for you on Sunday morning as you sing the songs and prepare your heart to hear God’s Word. I will be asking the Lord to give you a deep and abiding humility, a genuine sorrow over your sins, and a Spirit-empowered radical commitment to repentance and personal holiness. Then I will ask Him to bring you to the 4pm service so we can see all of the principles of James 4:6-10 on display in the life of King David in Psalm 51. Please read 2 Sam. 11-12, Psalm 32, and Psalm 51 before you come. Bring your family and friends so they too can experience God’s grace, love, forgiveness, and power. May the Lord receive the praise, glory, and honor He so richly deserves as we bow before Him in humble worship.
On a lighter note… the CT scan revealed that my aortic aneurysm has not increased in size at all over the last 3 ½ years. The cardiologist said I will simply need to see her every 6 months and get new scans once each year to monitor the situation. Thank you for praying. I sincerely hope that the Lord will give me many more years to serve Him by serving you.