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True Confession

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
June 6, 2024 12:00 am

True Confession

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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June 6, 2024 12:00 am

In this episode, Stephen explores the importance of true confession and transparency in the Christian life. Drawing insights from Nehemiah 9, he highlights how genuine revival begins with a humble approach to God's presence, a complete admission of personal sinfulness, and a clear acknowledgment of God's greatness. Stephen emphasizes that true confession involves exposing our inner struggles, embracing God's Word, and understanding the gravity of our sin while also recognizing God's grace and forgiveness. Join us as we delve into the transformative power of authentic confession and its role in fostering spiritual revival.

Core Christianity
Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

Confession is a reminder of personal corruption and guilt. I believe, as one author said, the average Christian is in need of revival because they have learned how to manage their sin rather than repent of their sin. Understand what that means?

Manage. There are no charades here. In this model of confession, sin was exposed for what it was, and God was pled with to be forgiving and merciful and gracious once again. Many of us have learned to play a good game of spiritual charades. We hide our struggles, put on a mask of piety, and fake confidence.

Does this sound familiar? We think this protects us, but it really isolates us and hinders our growth in Christ. Nehemiah 8 shows us a better way. Honest confession before God and others. In this chapter, we see what true confession looks like and the freedom and renewal it can bring. Welcome to Wisdom for the Heart.

Keep listening to discover how you can break free from the charades. Stephen called this message, True Confession. I love the story that I read just this past week of a rather single-minded, a true story of a self-confident businessman who always seemed to have it together. A gentleman sitting in this article talked about this fellow, even though he worked 70 to 80 hour weeks, he was a man who seemed organized and planned. This article said he built a cottage on a lake to use as a weekend retreat. And to make his plan even more efficient, he learned how to fly and kept another car for weekend transport the airfield nearest the lake. But that plan wasn't quite efficient enough, so he further fine-tuned his plans by fitting his plane with pontoons so he could land on the lake and actually taxi right up to his newly constructed pier. On his first trip in the newly rigged plane, he flew by force of habit straight to the rural airport where he started his descent.

What are you doing? his wife suddenly yelled. There aren't any wheels on this plane. It was just enough time for the man with the plan to pull up before touching down. Somewhat shaken, he flew on to the lake and made a perfect landing and as the plane drifted to a stop at the pier, he turned to his wife and said, I'm sorry, dear. I didn't know what I was doing, just lost my thought. For a moment there, I should have planned more carefully and built in reminders about the change in flight plans. It won't happen again.

Then he opened his door and hopped confidently out of the plane and directly into the lake. I guess the moral of the story is to let anybody see who you really are, even your spouse. Come across as a person who is always in control for your information and I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir here that happens to be a self-centered, naturally depraved philosophy of life and it happens to inhibit communion with God and with others. Another word for Christianity is exposure. You became a Christian after being exposed as a sinner.

You and I grow up in Jesus Christ as we are exposed as being infantile in areas of our lives. Another word for Christianity is exposure. One of the chief obstacles to revival in our own personal lives is that we are encouraged by our culture and our sinful nature to cover up, to fake it, to walk into a church and to put on airs and most of all never exposed to anyone and certainly never to God who we really are, what our true thoughts and intentions are, but suddenly our lives are intersected with the living Word of God which is alive, it is powerful, it is sharper than any two-edged sword and it is capable of pulling off the mask. It is capable of cutting through and penetrating the true thoughts and intentions of the heart, the Scriptures say.

So there is no room for charades if revival will ever come to our personal lives. The Word of God has a way of pulling us off the stage and taking away our facades and demanding radical change. In our last discussion, we observed the Jewish people hearing for the first time, imagine the first time in their lives the law of God and they began to weep, they began to mourn, they lamented their state, no need to fake anything. The law of God's Word was a plumb line and as it were, they held it up to themselves and discovered how crooked and how sinful they were.

It was true then and it is true today. True revival comes from an encounter with God's revelation when God's Word exposes us for who we truly are. Maybe that's why we have such difficulty.

Our natures rebel against getting in here because this has a way of getting in here. Well, it's time to rediscover the truth of the Word of God. When revival comes, there's a radical application to our lives.

Revival is indeed a time when a person is rebibled. Now in Nehemiah chapter 8, as you remember, the process had already begun. But in Nehemiah chapter 9, something interesting took place that was not part of the Jewish calendar. Look at verse 1. Now on the 24th day of this month, the sons of Israel assembled with fasting in sackcloth and with dirt upon them. Now what struck me about this action was learning that this was not a prescribed moment of worship.

It was not commanded by Nehemiah or Ezra, the priest, high priest. This was the outflow of true revival. What I discovered in this chapter is nothing less than a model of confession. If you want to be real, if you want to stop pretending, if you want to cease the charades, if you want to be rebibled, there are lessons here to teach you how.

One of the wonderful things about God, our teacher, is that He rarely gives us truth without roving it in flesh and blood so that we can see how it works. Chapter 8 is sort of the telling and chapter 9 is the showing. So He has for us the show and tell. And I was immediately struck as I studied this passage to get a phone call from a lady who lives across the street from us, their nine-year-old son and our six-year-old daughter play together quite often, pretty much the two kids on the street. He was having his end of the year party at school, which involved ice cream and cake and other things and also a show and tell. When his mom asked him what he wanted to bring for show and tell, he thought a moment and then said, I want to bring charity. He wanted to bring my daughter for his show and tell in his dreams. I didn't know what to say. No, actually, it was a nice compliment.

She got ice cream and cake and thought it was great. Well, the people of Israel are God's show and tell. And if you want to know how to confess, if you want to know how to be rebible, He says, here, watch them.

They'll show you how. So let's begin. The first characteristic of true confession is a humble approach to God's presence. You notice in verse one, they came clothed in sackcloth and with dirt on their heads and shoulders.

There is no charade of saintliness here, no pretending. In fact, the dirt on their head and shoulders was an illustration themselves. The dirt on the outside was an illustration of exposure toward God if they were saying there is dirt on the inside.

They are willing to expose the dirt on the inside to God and they're making sure that everyone around them knows that there's dirt by putting dirt on their shoulders. It's an act of contrition before God. Verse two, the descendants of Israel separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. By the way, men and women, one of the characteristics of true confession is that we do not blame our sin on our parents. We may confess both parties as sinful and admit that both parties have sinned.

But here is no blaming of, well, that's the way my father raised me or that's the way my mother was. There is an admission of sin on both parts. The second quality of true confession for us to model is this, there's a complete admission of personal sinfulness.

Might go without saying, but that's exactly what they did. Verse three, while they stood in their place, they read from the book of the law of the Lord their God for a fourth of the day, that's three hours, and for another fourth or three hours they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God. James Montgomery Boice was asked a few years ago if he believed America was experiencing revival. You hear things about there being 40 million believers, such high numbers. He was asked that and he wrote, my answer was and always has been no.

The reason I say no is quite simple, he wrote. There is no national consciousness of sin. In fact, there isn't any consciousness of sin. But he goes on, when revival sweeps over a people, the first evidence is a profound awareness of sin and sorrow for it.

In other words, confession involves admission and admission is an evidence of revival. I love the way G. K. Chesterton put it, he's a philosopher, theologian, now the Lord, he was reading a series of articles entitled, What's Wrong with the World? Put out in a secular newspaper by the editor, what's wrong with the world? Chesterton sent a short letter to the editor and it said this, dear sir, regarding your article, what's wrong with the world?

I am. Yours truly, G. K. Chesterton. John 1 8 says, if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. Verse 10, if we say that we have not sinned, we make God a liar and his word is not in us. However, verse nine and you know it, if we confess our sins, if we say the same thing about it that God says, then God is faithful to forgive us. By the way, I believe that the most miserable person on the face of the earth is a believer, unrepentant in sin.

Why? Because he can't have either world. He can't fully enjoy his sin because of his guilty conscience and he cannot enjoy the fellowship of God either. I want you to hear from the diary of a believer caught in the guilt of sin and the misery of refusing to confess it.

Let me just read you what David wrote. When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand, God, was heavy upon me.

My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. He's refusing to confess his sin and he's saying, I just wasted away. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and my iniquity I did not hide.

I said, I will confess my transgressions to the Lord and you forgave all my guilt. Here are the people of Jerusalem being led by priests who for three hours, verse four, the latter part says, they cried with a loud voice to the Lord their God. Now the third quality of true confession includes a clear acknowledgement of God's greatness. The prayer of Nehemiah begins by elevating God. Oh, verse five, may thy glorious name be blessed and exalted above blessing and praise.

Thou alone art the Lord. See this is putting the Lord in his proper place. It is a lot harder for us to pray to him as if he were a doting grandfather or a genie who will give us our three wishes if we put him in his proper place. He is a God who reigns in the heavens. He is majestic in splendor.

He is sovereign in all things. This mirrors, by the way, the Lord taught us to pray. In Matthew chapter 6, he told us to begin praying by saying, our Father who art where?

In heaven. That isn't his address as we have said. That's really a reference to his attributes. It's a reference to acknowledging the greatness of God, that he is above. He is sovereign. He is transcendent.

He is majestic. Although we come to a loving Father, we come to an awe-inspiring holy God. So you begin your prayer with the words heavenly Father. You're actually saying majestic, sovereign, almighty, great, awesome God. True prayer, especially the prayer of confession, does not trivialize God. It pays tribute to God. Now you notice this prayer of Ezra. He's the one I believe praying.

It acknowledges all of these things. First, in his superb creation of the universe, verses 5 and 6. Secondly, in his sovereign calling of Abraham, verses 7 to 8. Third, in his supernatural conquest over Egypt, verses 9 to 12. In his scriptural commands from Mount Sinai, verses 13 to 18. Fifth in his satisfying covenant with Israel, verses 19 to 25.

And finally, his steadfast compassion towards his people, verses 26 to 38. Let's join the scene as much as possible, shall we? I'll play the part of Ezra and simply read his prayer and you play the part of the congregation. So I want you to stand with me as they did. You might leave your Bibles in your seats.

They didn't have a copy to read from and he certainly didn't read it. You may close your eyes if you wish and I will simply read the prayer of confession. Abraham, and thou didst find his heart faithful before thee and didst make a covenant with him to give him the land of the Canaanite, of the Hittite, and the Amorite, of the Perizzite, and the Jebusite, and the Gergashite, to give it to his descendants. And thou hast fulfilled thy promise for thou art righteous. Thou didst see the affliction of our fathers in Egypt and didst hear their cry by the Red Sea. Then thou didst perform signs and wonders against Pharaoh, against all his servants and all the people of his land. For thou didst know that they acted arrogantly toward them and didst make a name for thyself as it is this day and thou didst divide the sea before them so they pass through the midst of the sea on dry ground.

And their pursuers thou didst hurl into the depths like a stone into raging waters. And with a pillar of cloud thou didst lead them by day and with a pillar of fire by night to light for them the way in which they were to go. Then thou didst come down on Mount Sinai and didst speak with them from heaven. Thou didst give to them just ordinances and true laws, good statutes and commandments. So thou didst make known to them thy holy Sabbath and didst lay down for them commandments, statutes, and law through thy servant Moses. Thou didst provide bread from heaven for them for their hunger. Thou didst bring forth water from a rock for them for their thirst. And thou didst tell them to enter in order to possess the land which thou didst swear to them, to give them.

But they, our fathers, acted arrogantly. They became stubborn and would not listen to thy commandments. And they refused to listen and did not remember thy wondrous deeds which thou hadst performed among them.

So they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But thou art a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness. And thou didst not forsake them even when they made for themselves a calf of molten metal and said, this is your God who brought you up from Egypt and committed great blasphemies. Thou and thy great compassion did not forsake them in the wilderness.

The pillar of cloud did not leave them by day to guide them on their way, nor the pillar of fire by night to light for them the way in which they were to go. And thou didst give thy good spirit to instruct them. Thy manna thou didst not withhold from their mouth. And thou didst give them water for their thirst. Indeed, 40 years thou didst provide for them in the wilderness. And they were not in want.

Their clothes did not wear out, nor did their feet swell. Thou didst also give them kingdoms and peoples. And thou didst allot them to them as a boundary.

And they took possession of the land of sea and the king of Heshbon and the land of Og, the king of Bashan. And thou didst make their sons numerous as the stars of heaven. And thou didst bring them into the land which thou didst told their fathers to enter and possess. So their sons entered and possessed the land. And thou didst subdue before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites. And thou didst give them into their hand with their kings and the peoples of the land to do with them as they desired. And they captured fortified cities and a fertile land.

They took possession of houses full of every good thing, hewn cisterns, vineyards, olive groves, fruit trees in abundance. So they ate, were filled and grew fat and reveled in thy great goodness. But they became disobedient and rebelled against thee and cast thy law behind their backs and killed thy prophets who had admonished them so that they might return to thee.

And they committed great blasphemies. Therefore, thou didst deliver them into the hand of the oppressors who oppressed them. But when they cried to thee in the time of their distress, thou didst hear from heaven. And according to thy great compassion, thou didst give them deliverers who delivered them from the hand of their oppressors. But as soon as they had rest, they did evil again before thee. Therefore, thou didst abandon them to the hand of their enemies so that they ruled over them. And when they cried again to thee, thou didst hear from heaven. And many times, thou didst rescue them according to thy compassion and admonished them in order to turn them back to thy law. Yet they acted arrogantly and did not listen to thy commandments but sinned against thine ordinances by which if a man observes them, he shall live. And they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck and would not listen. However, thou didst bear with them for many years and admonished them by thy Spirit through thy prophets.

Yet they would not give ear. Therefore, thou didst give them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. Nevertheless, in thy great compassion, thou didst not make an end of them or forsake them, for thou art a gracious and compassionate God. Now, therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who dost keep covenant and loving kindness, do not let all the hardships seem insignificant before thee which has come upon us, our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers, and all thy people. From the days of the kings of Assyria to this day, however, thou art just in all that has come upon us, for thou hast dealt faithfully but we have acted wickedly. For our kings, our leaders, our priests, and our fathers have not kept thy law or paid attention to thy commandments and thine admonitions with which thou hast admonished them. But they, in their own kingdom, with thy great goodness which thou dost give them with the broad and rich land which thou didst set before them, did not serve thee or turn from their evil deeds. Look, Lord, we are slaves today, and as to the land which thou didst give to our fathers to eat of its fruit and its bounty, behold, we are slaves on it, and its abundant produce is for the kings whom thou hast set over us because of our sins. They also rule over our bodies and also over our cattle as they please, so we are in great distress. Now because of all this, we are making an agreement in writing, and on the sealed document are the names of our leaders, our Levites, and our priests.

You may be seated." There are no errors in that prayer, no disingenuous words or actions. It is true confession.

Let me give a couple of thoughts by way of application to what we have just heard. Number one, confession is important because it is a reminder of personal corruption and guilt. I went through this prayer several times and just underlined in my mind the sins they admitted to, blasphemy, stubbornness, arrogance, refusing to listen to the Scriptures, stiffening their necks in disobedience, closing their ears, becoming disobedient, rebellious, scorning the law, refusing to pay attention to the law and commandments and ordinances of God, refusing to serve God, refusing to repent.

There are no charades here. In this model of confession, sin was exposed for what it was, and God was pled with to be forgiving and merciful and gracious once again. Confession is a reminder of personal corruption and guilt.

I believe, as one author said, the average Christian is in need of revival because they have learned how to manage their sin rather than repent of their sin. Understand what that means? Manage. We can live with a little here and a little there and we manage it until we become too guilty. We learn to sugarcoat our selfishness and we rationalize our disobedience and we justify our arrogance and we excuse our lack of obedience to the law and commandment of God.

We manage it. We do not confess it. We have forgotten how heartbreaking, how grievous sin in the life of the believer is to our Heavenly Father and we have forgotten how vile our sin is. I found this interesting and rather humorous insight sent by a pastor.

This article talked, he was in Oregon. They were having a problem and I thought of this passage and taking a good look at what reality is. They were having a problem in a middle school in Oregon. A number of girls were beginning to use lipstick and would put it on in the girls' bathroom and after they put on their lipstick they would press their lips to the mirrors leaving dozens of little lip prints. Finally, the principal decided something had to be done. She came up with a rather ingenious plan and told her custodian exactly what to do. She called the girls to the bathroom and met them there with a school custodian. She then explained that all these lip prints were causing a major problem for the custodian's time and effort who had to clean the mirrors every day. To demonstrate how difficult it was to clean the mirrors, she then asked the custodian to show the girls how he had been cleaning them. He took out a long-handled brush, dipped it into one of the nearby commodes and then scrubbed the mirror.

Since then the lip prints have disappeared. The pastor then applied it this way. He said, try thinking of that story when you are tempted to manage sin. If you could only see what you are really kissing up to, you might not be attracted to it after all.

That's good. Confession is the fresh realization that sin is corruption and filth and you shudder to think what you have been embracing. The justification stops and the rationalization stops and the believer mourns and laments and pleads to be rescued from sin's alluring siren song because it no longer looks appealing. But if that's all the confession was, my friends, it would be depressing.

In fact, it would lead to despair. If all we ever did was in our introspection looked at our guilt and our sin, we would be led to despair. So confession is not just that, not just a reminder of personal corruption and guilt. It is also a reminder of God's character and grace. Verse 17, the latter part, but thou art a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding and loving kindness. Verse 28, and many times we read his prayer, thou didst rescue them according to thy compassion. Down to verse 30, thou didst bear with them for many years. Verse 33, however thou art just in all that has come upon us, for thou hast dealt faithfully, but we have acted wickedly. Anyone in tune with God is struck by guilt and corruption, but moved to the character and grace of God.

That is revival. Well I hope this time in God's Word has challenged and encouraged you today. And I hope you'll find some quiet time to be able to examine your own heart and life in light of the truth that you've heard.

This is Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. Stephen is the president of Wisdom International in Cary, North Carolina. He's working his way through this series in Nehemiah and there are two more lessons to go. We'll bring you those in the days ahead. But in the meantime, Stephen has a book on the life of Nehemiah and it's available during this series at a deeply discounted rate. If you'd like more information call 866-48-BIBLE or 866-482-4253. Join us next time on Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-06 00:13:15 / 2024-06-06 00:23:30 / 10

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