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True Confessions, Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
November 9, 2023 12:00 am

True Confessions, Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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November 9, 2023 12:00 am

Listen to or read the full-length version of this message here: https://www.wisdomonline.org/teachings/ezra-lesson-11  Have you ever had someone apologize to you and you knew they weren't sorry? On the other hand, have you ever had someone apologize to you, and you knew they were sorry? What was the difference between the two confessions? What made one real and the other false? Stephen gives us the answer from Scripture.

 

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False confession says, well, Lord, you know I told that little lie.

It wasn't that big of a deal. I know I did such and such, but it's not that bad. That's false confession. True confession is calling it what God calls it, to simply admit to unfaithfulness to God and to totally agree so that we are without excuse. True confession admits sin. It lays bare before God your sinful thoughts and actions. And furthermore, it lays bare your sinful hearts before God.

Nothing is covered. True confession says, oh God, I am guilty. Have you ever had someone apologize to you, but as you were listening, the apology didn't seem genuine?

Perhaps it came across as fake, or you perceived that the person wasn't really sorry. Maybe you couldn't pin down anything specific, but you could just tell that the person was going through the motions. Well, let me ask you this. Have you ever thought about the fact that God knows when your confession is real and when it's fake?

He does. And we're going to explore that today. This is wisdom for the heart. Stephen has a lesson for you entitled True Confessions. I was standing in the grocery store line and as I normally do until you periodically, I read those magazine headlines and it's always very fascinating tabloids and the such. I noticed that a word cropped up regularly throughout my scanning and it was the word confession. True confession.

Oh, hey, this is true. I've been forward to read carefully this true confession. Well, so and so would confess to some kind of secret love and someone would confess to some kind of secret life. And these people that hire writers to write books on their confessions aren't really interested in confessing.

They're interested in royalties. Furthermore, I think even among us, when we go to a counselor or psychologist, whoever we don't necessarily want forgiveness or confession, we may just want to feel better. What is a confession really like? We happen to live in a guilt ridden society desperately in need of this forgiveness, but unable to experience it because they do not know how to truly confess anything. In fact, I found it interesting in my research that there are two companies in our country that have actually taken advantage of the guilt that people feel and their desire to confess but not really confess. One company for a modest fee, you can call one of their people and while you're on the phone with one of their people, you can confess to whatever your sins are and hang up and I guess you're forgiven. One priest of a diocese, I don't remember, I read about this last week, had come up with a web page where his parishioners could call in and confess online.

Another company went even further than that for a fee. They would confess or apologize to whomever you asked them to confess or apologize to. So you pay them and they go confess and apologize.

I'm sure that's a real winner. The truth about true confession is that it doesn't have anything to do with the internet. It doesn't have anything to do with calling somebody and telling them on the phone that you don't know anything about. It doesn't have anything to do with having them tell somebody that you need to confess to or apologize to your confession. What is true biblical confession?

How does it work? What does it say? What changes as a result of really confessing to God and others what we ought to? And why do we need to confess anyway? God already knows what we did. Well, I wanna begin our study by reading this definition in your study notes that I have attempted to include within it every facet of biblical confession that takes you from the first step to the last.

Let's read it together. Confessed to simply admit unfaithfulness to God through your specific sinful thoughts and actions. To totally agree with God's point of view regarding your thoughts and actions as inexcusable. To humbly accept any consequences brought about by those thoughts and actions. To diligently act in renewed faithfulness toward your gracious, forgiving God.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is true. Confession, how do I know? Because it comes directly from what we will begin to study this morning, the life and times of a man who confessed and in his confession provided a model not only for his generation but for every generation after him as to the nature of true confession. Let's rejoin our study now in the book of Ezra in chapter nine and verse one. Now when these things had been completed, that is Ezra had been there now four months, the priests approached me saying, the people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the land. Now you need to catch the significance of who has not separated themselves from the people of the land.

Notice that. The priests and the Levites, the spiritual leaders. According to their abominations, those of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians and the Amorites, for they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and for their sons so that the holy race has intermingled with the peoples of the lands, indeed the hands.

Now he adds to that category of people of princes and rulers have been foremost in this unfaithfulness. In other words, the spiritual leaders and the political leaders are all corrupt. They have all intermarried with pagan nations around them.

But it's a bigger problem than simply intermarrying, that is marrying an unbeliever. It is a threat to the very core and integrity of what makes them a holy nation and the purpose that God had in mind for this holy nation throughout the course of time. Warren Wiersbe reminded me in his writing that the Jews were not called a holy nation because they were inherently holy or holier than any other nation, but because they had been chosen by God and they had been set apart to do the holy will of God. And he had stamped them, as it were, with his name. And we read in Genesis Chapter 12 that by them, that is by Israel, all the families of the world would be blessed. Well, did that come true?

Absolutely, yes. Through the Jews, the world has been given the knowledge of the one and true and only living God. Through the Jews, inspired by the Holy Spirit you hold in your lap the Bible. They've given us the scriptures.

But even more importantly, they gave us directly from the line of Judah, that tribe, a little boy whose name was Iasis, Jesus Christ, they gave us the Messiah. And so you need to understand here that to enter Mary violates and threatens the long plan of God for their bloodline. And it also threatens and intimidates, as it were, the immediate well-being of the people who are now exposed, who are now vulnerable to idolatry.

In fact, Malachi, who is a contemporary of this scene, writes that many of the Jewish men had actually divorced their Jewish wives and were marrying pagan unbelieving women. From the spiritual leaders to the civil leaders, this nation was now at great risk. There is terrific sin in Jerusalem and the floodgates of immorality and the accommodation of idolatry is already banging at the gate. Now, it is at this moment after he hears that report that you and I are given a glimpse of true confession.

Ezra provides for us the ingredients of what it is all about. Now, the first summary word, if you're following in your notes that I want to give you, is the ingredient of true confession. And it is this one summary word, admission. Verse 3, when I heard about this matter, I tore my garment and my robe and pulled some of the hair from my head and my beard and sat down appalled. Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel on account of the unfaithfulness of the exiles gathered to me and I sat appalled until the evening offering. Look at the way Ezra refers to this sin down in verse 6, the last phrase. For our iniquities have risen above our heads and our guilt has grown even to the heavens.

In other words, Ezra is saying, oh, Lord, our guilt has been piling one upon the other, our transgressions one upon the other, our immoralities and infidelities one upon another, our idolatrous thoughts and actions one upon another until now, this great mountain of sin reaches heaven. You see, that is true confession. Ladies and gentlemen, a mark of false confession is the exact opposite.

It is the downplaying of sin, isn't it? He says, we are guilty of great guilt. False confession says, well, Lord, you know, I told that little lie.

It wasn't that big of a deal. Or Lord, I know I did such and such, but it's not that bad. That's false confession. True confession is calling it what God calls it to simply admit to unfaithfulness to God and to totally agree so that we are without excuse. True confession admits sin. It lays bare before God your sinful thoughts and actions. And furthermore, it lays bare your sinful heart before God.

Nothing is covered. It is open before him. Look at verse seven. Since the days of our fathers to this day, we have been in great guilt. There's another key word again. And on account of our iniquities, there it is, another word, we, our kings and our priests have been given into the hand of the kings of the lands of the sword to captivity and to plunder and to open. Here's another word.

Shame as it is this day. Shame, iniquities, great guilt. True confession says, Oh God, I am guilty.

Strange word to say, isn't it? I had a fellow come up to me a few weeks ago who had heard me tell this illustration of something that happened in my own life a few years ago. We were both in traffic court.

He said it just happened to him. And, uh, this was earlier in my life, many, many years ago and how strange it was to stand there and have to say in front of those people and the judge, I mean, this is a traffic violation, but still just to say when they call that your name, guilty, that's not a word we often admit to. You're raising children. I'm raising some, I never have them come down and say, Hey, by the way, I'm guilty of something. No, you got to find it out. You got to hire the FBI. You got to bug their room.

It's hard. And we learn early how to cover over things and do anything but admit to guilt. Like the little girl I read about this week who was guilty of lying often and her parents were really working with her. And recently her parents gave her a St. Bernard dog for her birthday. It wasn't long before she had told all the neighbors that she had been given her very own lion. Her mother took her aside and said, I told you not to lie. Now I want you to go upstairs and tell the Lord that you're sorry and promise God you will not lie again. The little girl went upstairs, said her prayers, came back down again. Her mother asked, did you tell God what you did?

The girl replied, yes ma'am, I did. And God told me that sometimes he finds it hard to tell my dog from a lion too. True confession does not rationalize. It doesn't deny.

It doesn't minimize. It doesn't excuse. It doesn't say, oh, it isn't there. But like C. S. Lewis who wrote of his own self-examination, the biblical confessor says, I discovered, C. S. Lewis said, within me a zoo of lust, a bedlam of ambitions, a nursery of fears, a harem of fondled hatred. True confession admits it. But there is a second element to true confession.

There is not only admission of sin, there is aversion to sin. Look at Ezra's response again in verse three. And when I heard about this matter, I tore my garments and my robe and pulled some of the hair from my head and my beard and sat down appalled, the last phrase of verse four. And I sat appalled until the evening offering. For three hours, he sat appalled. The word appalled in the Hebrew text means to be horrified at, to be utterly repulsed by, to be shocked over, to be astonished by sin. Ezra is appalled that the leaders and the people following them would do this. He is shocked. Now, everybody else in this story evidently accepted it.

Nobody else was tearing their clothes and plucking out their beards. And these were all symptoms or I should say expressions of grieving the dead. Sure, there were other people upset by it. They came to him and told him it's going on. But only Ezra was appalled by it.

Why? Because he had spent so much time in the Word and they had been spending their time in the world. They had for a generation, for 40 years now, accommodated it. They had ignored it. They had allowed for it.

They had excused it. They had let their daughters and their sons date the Perizzites and the Hittites. They're really nice boys and girls if you just look past their idolatry.

But now, a generation later, they've married them and they have moved their idols into their apartments and their condominiums. By the time Ezra arrived, the remnant was already intermingling with the world that they had accepted and tolerated and said, oh, lighten up. It's not that bad. The Bible never says dabble or expose yourself to sin so you can not handle it. It says run from it.

Flee from it. David said, I will set no evil thing before mine eye. When is the adult world going to be willing to admit the same thing? To apply the same principle to its own music, to its own movies, to its own games? We are no longer shocked by sin.

Why? Because we allow it through television and video and movie to play itself out in front of our eyes. And we are constantly exposed to the sin. What do we have to teach a younger generation about not being exposed to that when we give Oscars to adulterers? Fifty years ago, we watched I Love Lucy.

You remember that? A show about two married people. They were married and could not be on the same mattress at the same time. You know what's happened in one generation? One generation. Ladies and gentlemen, we're observing in this text the effect of one generation of accommodation, of exposure.

And now what happened? That which they had been exposed to, they became vulnerable to, and now they are engaged in. But you say, well, you know, we're so sophisticated now. My friends, we're not sophisticated. We're sinful. Aren't you glad you came this morning?

Didn't Jeremiah speak to us? Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No. They have no shame at all.

They do not even know how to blush. Listen to Ezra. Look at verse five. But at the evening offering, I arose from my humiliation.

Now, remember, he hadn't married a pagan woman, but he's identified with a nation that he is in union with him. He is so moved and he's not guilty of it, but he sees it among those he loves and he knows what it does to God. At the evening offering, I arose from my humiliation, even my garment and my robe torn, and I fell on my knees and stretched out my hands to the Lord my God. And I said, Oh my God, I am ashamed and embarrassed to lift up my face to thee. You know why he could experience true confession?

He not only admitted it for what it was, but he had this sense of aversion and he came to God, not with this flippant, well, I'm back again, you know, no big deal here. Forgive me. Fine. But Oh God, I am embarrassed to even come to you. And I am ashamed to raise my face toward you. By the way, while we're on this little rabbit trail, you want to start a revolution?

Turn off any television show, walk out of any Broadway production, turn off any movie, change any radio station that plays out for you a theme where two people who are not married are having sexual relations or a person who is married is having them with someone they're not married to. Okay. You want to try that?

Go ahead and do this. That's the first start. I know this is dramatic.

The Bible calls those things by the way, fornication and adultery. And Paul said, run from them. Don't even look at it. Don't get emotionally pulled into the theme. So that while the world may give it Oscars, you find yourself struggling with the tension that this is not right. And yet you're rooting for them.

Why? Just because as adult violence sets the stage for real live violence. So media immorality has set the stage in our generation. It has wet the appetite. It has prepared the table for real live immorality. And the proof that we are already on the downward slope is we no longer have an aversion to it. We are no longer shocked by it. And you may even be sitting there saying, Stephen, move on.

Then I'm here to warn you. True confession involves admission. It includes aversion. Thirdly, it brings awareness. And that is the awareness of God's grace. If you want to jot those words in this great prayer of confession, Ezra recalls and verbalizes five images of grace.

Look in verse eight. But now for a brief moment, this is wonderful here, how he turns the corner. Now for a brief moment, grace has been shown from the Lord our God to leave us. And here's the first of five images. An escaped remnant. It's the first image of grace. In other words, even though we've been sinful, God has allowed us to be like a torn garment with a little remnant, the little piece of cloth protected and preserved back here in the land. The second image follows and to give us a peg.

That's it. A peg in his holy place, a nail. The image is of a peg, a nail being driven into the ground that holds a piece of the tent. It speaks of stability that God has allowed them to be by his grace driven into the land. Then the word enlightenment brings the image of light for one's eyes. They were not left in the darkness of bondage. They were allowed to walk in the light of freedom. Further in the verse, they also experienced a little reviving.

That's a picture of being brought back to life. And finally, in verse nine, the last phrase speaks of a wall in Judah in Jerusalem that you know they don't have a wall, right? The walls aren't built yet, but he speaks of a wall that is the image of protection they have received from a gracious God that even without a physical wall, they have this wall of his fortress and protection that he's provided for them. See, in other words, men and women, I say all of that to say this true confession magnifies the awfulness of your sin, and it also magnifies the grace of your savior. You cannot have the latter without the former. You can't fully embrace and enjoy the last part of that without going through the terror of the first part of that. The awfulness of our depravity and our sin, but the wonderful grace of our God. And I'm going to say that the blessing of confession, the blessing of confession is that it gives you not only a fresh view of yourself, but it gives you a fresh view of the savior. Now true confession involves admission, but admission is not enough.

It includes aversion, but aversion to sin is not enough. It brings awareness of grace, but awareness of grace is not enough. True confession involves more than this, and we'll take more time next Lord's day to finish the circle of our study. But before we close, let me along these lines give you three thoughts to rearrange our perspective on the subject of confession. Number one, confession is an opportunity to remind ourselves that our choices, our choices do not bring fulfillment. It's a humbling moment in your life when you realize you have done your thing. You have gone your way and now you're full. You're just fully acknowledging that you failed, that you sin, that you made a mistake. You took the wrong turn.

God, I was wrong and you were right. That which you thought would bring you pleasure or fulfillment or satisfaction did anything but that confession. Secondly is a reminder that we are not satisfied with delighting in Christ alone. You know, confession, ladies and gentlemen, is not so much in saying, Oh Lord, help me to overcome this or that sin.

Help me to overcome the sin of materialism. That isn't really confession. Confession is saying, Oh God, I haven't been satisfied with everything that you are and so I have wanted other things. You see, it isn't, Oh Lord, please remove from me sinful cravings.

Confession says, Oh God, give me a craving for you so that anything else isn't worth the effort. And in that there is great protection. You are following the savior.

You are avoiding the enemy and his lure. I was up early this morning and seated in a little breakfast area that looks out over a little bit of land that we've cleared and then there are some trees and then behind that is what's really wonderful. About 20 acres don't belong to us, but about 20 acres of pasture land and we can see cattle and horses grazing until some developer comes along and we understand that.

I had one guy come up to me after his first service, a developer, and he said, at least you didn't say a greedy developer. So it's there right now for the enjoyment. We know that one day it'll be gone. But I was sitting there and enjoying the view and then my eyes were caught with movement and crawling across underneath the window just a few feet away through a little natural area that we had was a snake. This is not a fish story.

Easily this long. I hung it up on a limb. He asked me what kind was it.

I didn't care. Now I've already had people come to me after the first hour and get all over me and say, come on. And I killed it and out there this morning with a shovel and a rake. Quite an impressive sight. I hung it over a limb because I wanted my kids to see it because I wanted them to be afraid to a certain degree.

I want them to know that when they go out and play, they need to be sharp. Until they settle some more houses around us, we're the only one out there now. They're going to be snakes. We already killed a cottonmouth in our garage three days ago. I'll have snake stories for you periodically now. But I want them to know.

I want them to be aware. Ladies and gentlemen, you know what confession does. It brings you to a fresh awareness that there's a serpent out there.

And you're to have a healthy fear of him is a puppet on a string. But yet he's a roaring lion that seeks whom he may devour. And confession simply says, oh, Christ, I haven't been satisfied with you. I have instead embraced, followed after the serpent.

Forgive me. Third, confession is a need not so much because we broke a commandment of God, but because we broke the heart of God. We tend to depersonalize God when it comes to this, because we'd like to think of him as some ethereal, unknowable thing. But he is a person. In fact, the Apostle Paul in dealing with the sinning Corinthian believers who were follow falling into immorality, you know what his argument was? Well, his argument was not. Let me review for you the Ten Commandments.

But his argument was what? What? Don't you know that your body has been bought with a price? You belong to a person, and that person has made your body a sanctuary. And when you get involved in sin, you bring God there. When you watch sin, you bring God there, and he is grieved. He is crushed.

He is hurt. You have caused him to endure the presence of sin and your own unfaithfulness. Sin violates a person. It violates God. It abuses God. It hurts God. It grieves God. And the believer sins and then goes before God with true embarrassment and true shame with the uncovering of his sin and the magnification of his depravity. He, in that true confession, discovers a gracious God, a loving Lord, who, imagine this, stands there, ready to forgive and to forget.

As Christians who want to live for God and enjoy a fruitful relationship with God, we don't want there to be any hindrance or blockade in our fellowship with him. That's why confessing our sin is so important. The lesson you just heard is entitled True Confessions. This is actually a two-part lesson, and Stephen will bring you the conclusion on tomorrow's broadcast. Be sure and join us for that.

This is Wisdom for the Heart. Our Bible teacher, Stephen Davey, is the pastor of the Shepherd's Church in Cary, North Carolina. If your travel plans ever bring you through our area, I hope you'll join Stephen and his church for a worship service on Sunday. Our ministry, Wisdom International, has a website where you can learn more about us and access all of the resources we have available. You'll find us at wisdomonline.org. Once you go there, you'll find today's lesson, as well as the complete archive of all Stephen's Bible teaching. Those lessons are available to you anytime, free and on demand. You can listen to each of those lessons or read Stephen's printed manuscript right there on the website. We also have an app for your smartphone where you can listen to each day's broadcast, as well as access the archives, and you'll find the Wisdom International app in both the iTunes and the Google Play stores. Thanks for joining us today. Be with us next time for more Wisdom for the Heart. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-09 00:39:18 / 2023-11-09 00:50:03 / 11

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