Sincere Confession

Sincere Confession

Scripture: Luke 15:11-24, Hebrews 4:13, Matthew 6:8
Date: 04/11/2020 
What is the purpose of confession? How do we sincerely confess?

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Pastor Doug Batchelor: The height of your spiritual experience is going to be in exact proportion to the depth of your repentance and your confession.

Now I always like to use a story as a springboard, and I'm going to turn to one that I think you'll find familiar, it's in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 15, verse 11. And Jesus said, "There was a certain man that had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me. So he divided to them his livelihood, his inheritance. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, and he journeyed to a far country, and there he wasted his possessions with prodigal living," sinful living. "But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. And he went and he joined himself to a citizen in that country, and he sent him out into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything."

Now, living a life of sin, this young man realized that he had squandered his opportunities, he had squandered his father's blessings, and every sinner ultimately will realize that before they repent. That God has given me so many opportunities and blessings and time, and we waste all selfishly. And then there's always a payday. Eventually the pleasure is gone, sin stops satisfying, it leaves you feeling empty, and he starts to think about when he was back in the father's house. It says, he came to himself. It's almost like it's describing sin as a form of insanity, and suddenly he got his sanity back. And he said, "How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough to spare? My father's servants eat to the full and I perish with hunger!"

Why did Jesus come? Whoever believes in him might not perish. This young man realized he's perishing. If you are not converted and saved, there's only one other option. You either have everlasting life through Jesus, and a new heart being born again, or perishing. And God does not want us to be lost, he wants to save us. He said, I'm perishing with hunger. You know what satisfies that hunger for bread, it's the Word of God. "I will arise and go to my father's house."

Notice what's happening here. He's making a decision to go towards his father. Now, the promise is, in James, if we draw near to God, James chapter 4--or James chapter 2 verses 4 through 7, he will draw near to us. And so we want to be drawing near to God. He said, "'I will go to my father, and I'll say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I'm no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me as one of your hired servants.' So he arose," he's got this speech of confession in his mouth, and he arose and he comes to his father. "His father saw him a long way off, he had compassion, and he ran and he fell on his neck and he kissed him. And the son said, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and I'm no longer worthy to be called your son.'"

As soon as he confesses, the father reacts by completely embracing and adopting him back into the family, says, you are my son. Calls for his servants, and he says, "Bring out the best robe and put it on him, put a ring on his hand," meaning that he was now going to have the authority of the family, "and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry, for this my son was dead and he's alive again, he was lost and he's found." And they began to be merry.

And I'm not going to even go into the part about the other son, because the point of the story I wanted to emphasize, this young man came to himself, he repented, but then he realized, I will say to my father. There was something he needed to say. Everybody is going to confess someday. You can read where Paul says, in the book of Romans chapter 14, "For it is written: 'As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will confess.'"

Tonight we're going to talk very specifically about an important part of the Christian experience, the conversion experience, that has to do with sincere confession. Now, don't be afraid of confessing to God, because God knows everything. You know, we're living in an interesting time in the world's history where it seems like no matter where you go now, cameras are rolling. And, you know, people can even go to websites where they can look through satellites and see what's happening on the earth from space all over the world. Sometimes Karen will come in the office, she'll see that I'm on a program called Google Earth and I'm looking all over the world to see if I can find deserted islands. I just love looking at maps, I'm just intrigued, I'm a very visual person.

But everywhere you go now, everything, it seems like, is being recorded. And, more than ever, you know, in the cities for security, we just installed a video doorbell so that whenever anyone comes to our door, I know it's old technology for most people, but it was very interesting for me, whenever anyone comes to our doorbell, and they ring the door, we get an alert on our phone. The funny thing is, every time Karen goes to get the mail, every day, I get an alert. Caesar, our son, goes out to jog, and I see him out the front yard, he's stretching and I'm going, this is interesting, they don't know I'm watching.

But it's like there's cameras everywhere. And God has had cameras for a long time. There are angels that record everything we say. Jesus said, in the judgment you'll give an account for every idle word that you speak. God sees everything we do. Let me give you a few verses on that. Jesus says, in Luke chapter 12 verse 2, "For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever has been spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and whatever you have spoken in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops." Ecclesiastes 12 verse 14, "For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing."

We think nobody knows. Everything we'll give an answer for. And you may have sinned and thought, well, I got away with that, nobody will know, I don't need to say anything. You don't get away with anything. Everything that's done in secret will be ultimately proclaimed from the housetops unless it is confessed, repented of, forsaken, and you want it under the blood of Jesus.

You know, one reason I became a Christian is because I saw, providentially, you don't ever get away with anything. I was a thief, and I realized I never really got away with anything. And I just became convinced there must be a God, because it seemed like, we started calling it karma, seemed like something always went wrong when you try to do the wrong thing. And you know what they say on the streets is what goes around comes around. It'll catch up with you.

Nobody ever really gets away with anything. And so I'm sharing this sort of as a background, why it is important to confess, because you'll never really get ahead by doing wrong or by disobeying God. Hebrews chapter 4 verse 13, Paul says, "There is no creature hidden from his sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of him with whom we must give an account." Now, I wonder how people would behave if they knew that God is always recording.

You know, we had a little church up in the hills, and it had the strangest sound system, just had an inexpensive Radio Shack sound system, and something about the length of the wires to the speakers, they weren't shielded, and whenever any airplane flew over or an ambulance went by, I've never run into it before, it seemed to pick up their frequencies, and it would broadcast it in the church. So while you're in there, in the church, and you're preaching, all of a sudden you would hear the ambulance drivers talking on the radio. And sometimes what even ambulance drivers say to each other is not appropriate to broadcast in a church. And I wondered, if they only knew that what they think they're saying just on the radio to the dispatch is being broadcast in the local church. How much more careful would they be?

Well, everything is naked and open to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. There is a judgment day coming, and everybody is going to give an account for everything. And that's why it's so crucial for us to not wait until we kneel with the devil outside of the New Jerusalem. Everybody will ultimately bow before Christ and confess that Jesus is Lord. But to confess while the doors of mercy are still open, that would be now. You can't wait, friends.

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Pastor Doug Batchelor: So, with that little background, I'm going to go through my ritual of having five or six points we're going to cover about confession. And I'll start with, why do we confess? Why would we confess? Jesus said, your heavenly Father, and this is Matthew chapter 6 verse 8, He knows what things you have need of before you even ask. So why tell Him? Well, confession isn't for the benefit of God.

You know, when I was a baby Christian, I heard about confession, you know, I just, in my mind I had it like, all right, Lord, you better sit down, there's somethin' I gotta tell ya. And then I realized wait a second! God knows everything. I'm not going to fill in the Lord. So when you confess, it's not like you're saying, brace yourself, Lord, I've got some heavy things to share with you. He knows more about you than you know about you. So you're not confessing to fill Him in.

One very important thing that happens when you're confessing is you are recognizing in your own heart what you're doing is wrong. You're giving freedom, then, of the Holy Spirit to give you victory in that area, because you're admitting it's wrong and you want change.

The other thing is, once you admit it's wrong, something happens within you mentally. Then you realize there's consequences and you're accountable. People don't like confessing, it can sometimes make them uncomfortable, but it's actually good for you because it's liberating. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Now we're going to talk about the what of confession. What do you confess? Confess means, this is a definition, it means to disclose something that is damaging or inconvenient to one's self, to admit, to acknowledge. As someone said, confession is good for the soul but it's bad for the reputation. And the Bible says, Proverbs 28 verse 13, "He that covers his sin will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them."

You know, I remember, even years after I became a Christian, something came to me. I was in Miami Beach, where I used to go to school, used to work, and I just went for a visit to the family. And while I was in Miami Beach, I remembered I had worked for a Baskin Robbins ice cream store. I got to work there and they told me, you can eat all the ice cream you want. And it was a dream job for me, because I did. They said, you'll get tired of it. I never did, I ate a lot of ice cream while I was there. And he trusted me.

I was just 14, 15 years old, but I was a good worker, I'd been in the military school, I kept everything clean and organized. And eventually he gave me the keys, and he had me, Mr. Scott was his name, he had me open the place and close the place and do the accounting and put the money in the freezer, and when I got ready to run away from home when I was like 15 years old, I had made myself an extra key. And I went into the Baskin Robbins late at night, and I went into the freezer, I knew where the key freezer was, and I stole just enough cash where he would have never known it was missing.

Years later that came to me. And I thought, you know, I need to make that right. And so I went back to that Baskin Robbins, which I think it's still there today after all those years, on Lincoln Mall. And I went back in and I went in and I started asking for Mr. Scott, and they said, oh, he sold the place years ago, and, you know, I just felt this tremendous burden come off my shoulders by going in there. I wasn't worried about the $15 or $20, I just wanted to make things right with the Lord and God. The biggest struggle for me was going and telling him, because he trusted me. I said, “Well, do you know how I can contact him?” They said, “No, we have no way to contact him.” And God just took the burden off me because He wanted to know, are you willing? And once I got to the place where I was willing, you know, I just felt real peace. And so He may reveal things to you.

Now, someone might be thinking, well, I robbed a bank, what do I do? If I confess, I might go to jail. I've had a lot of people that have come to me and they said, if I tell my boss what I've been doing, he's going to fire me. I said, trust the Lord. And I'm sure there's exceptions, but almost every time I know of when a member or somebody comes to me and says, I'm convicted, I need to go talk to my boss, I've been cheating or doing something dishonest, I said, you go to them, if you tell them before you're caught, they'll know that there's a change in your heart. "Search me, O God, and know me, try me, know my thoughts, see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." And it says, in Job 13:23, "How many are my iniquities and my sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin."

I'd like to make a suggestion that, get by yourself, if you want this revival to really make a difference, then do something tangible, go off by yourself. Might be harder if you're home sequestering right now, but find a room, find your closet of prayer, and get on your knees. Tell the Lord. You may not even feel anything, but do it because you know it's the right thing to do, and watch what happens. Get on your knees, say, Lord, I want to repent of my sins. I'm choosing to repent of my sins. I know I've sinned all through my life. I'm guilty of many things. You can't remember everything you've ever done wrong, but get a piece of paper. Don't let anyone get ahold of that piece of paper. Get a piece of paper and make a list, and start with the Ten Commandments. Have you ever worshiped other gods? Or taken God's name in vain? Have you, well, I've never committed adultery, but have you thought impure thoughts? Spiritual adultery. I've never committed murder, have you been angry with your brother without cause? Lying? The Bible says, "Let your yes be yes, and your no be no." Have you ever been misleading? And go through the Ten Commandments, and then pray that prayer that David says, search me, Lord, try me, see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. The Holy Spirit will bring things to your mind.

There may be friends, family, could be a spouse, a loved one that you are at odds with and you need to right those wrongs. Make a note of that. Confess it first to God, then go to that person next. After you make that list, and don't rush through it, look at it and say, Lord, if I'm forgetting something, show me later. He will. Then claim the promise, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness," said 1 John 1:9. And He makes a promise. He'll cleanse you from how much? All unrighteousness.

Now, if He's cleansed you from all unrighteousness, when you get off your knees, is God going to keep His promise? Don't say, “Oh but, Lord, I don't know how well I'm going to live as a Christian today.” At that moment, He gives you eternal life. That will then affect your behavior. You start becoming righteous by faith when you believe His promise. He then can give you the Spirit and you'll be surprised, moment by moment, how you start living in a different kind of life. So try going through those steps. God will bring things to your mind. Romans 10:10, "For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."

Then what about the when of confession? When's the right time to confess? You know, one of the most beautiful prayers in the Bible is in Daniel chapter 9, where Daniel is reading the Bible. And in reading the Bible, he reads the prophecy of Jeremiah, and he knows that God wants to bring his people back, and Daniel becomes convicted that he has not been praying for his people. And the Bible tells us, if you read in Daniel chapter 9 verse 9--verse 3 through 6, 'Then I set my face towards the Lord and made my request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, ashes. And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession."

Notice what happens. He's reading the Word, then he feels impressed to confess. And while he's praying and confessing, Daniel 9 verse 20, "While I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God of the holy mountain of my God, yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering." So while he's praying, God sends an angel.

When does Daniel confess? As soon as he is impressed about his sin. Go back to Psalm 32, I want you to notice something about the best time to confess. "I acknowledged my sin to you. And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, 'I will confess my transgression to the Lord.' And you forgave the iniquity of my sin. For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to you in a time when you may be found." "Call on him," Isaiah says, chapter 55 verse 6, "seek the Lord while he may be found. Call upon him why he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let them return to the, Lord and he will have mercy upon them, to our God, and he will abundantly pardon." So, you don't want to wait too long. Call upon him while he's near and he hears your prayer.

During this series, we're hoping that you go through these steps of salvation, and repent of your sins and confess and come to the Lord. Who do you confess to? Well, James 5:16, it says, "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you might be healed." If I've offended somebody, I'll confess that sin. If you have a close friend you can trust, it's good to have accountability with people. If people are struggling with different things, it's good to have a friend who knows how to, Proverbs says, conceal a matter, meaning keep a confidential trust, that they can pray with you about something you're struggling with. But you want to be really careful about confessing private things to people because, well, you know, sometimes they say, if two people know a secret, it's not a secret anymore. And so, the sin against God should be confessed to God. Public sin should be confessed publicly. Private sin should be confessed privately.

You probably heard the story about the three pastors, they decided they needed to take a little vacation together, and so they all went out fishing. They're all off in the middle of a lake, and they're fishing, and things are going fine. Now one of the pastors breaks down and he starts to cry. And it's kind of awkward for the other two, they hadn't done anything, they don't know what's come over him. And he said, you know, we're all alone out here, I feel like I can finally confide in somebody. Says, I've got a really big problem. He said, I'm cheating on my wife. And the other two looked at him and said, well, brother, you got to make that right, but let's pray with you.

And while they're praying, another pastor started crying. And they said, what's the problem? He said, well, my brother here inspired me, I need to open up and let you guys know of it. I've got a problem, I'm a kleptomaniac. I steal all the time. Little things. Don't need to, I just can't help myself. And they said, well, we'll pray for you.

So they're praying, and the two of them look at the other guy who had been strangely quiet. They said, anything you want to share? He says, well, yeah, but I can't, it's too awful. They said, well what could be worse than what we described? You can trust us. He said, well, my sin is gossip, and I can't wait to get back home and tell everybody. So you want to be really careful about confessing your sins to people. You want the private sin to be confessed to God.

The where of confession. Public sin should be publicly confessed. Sometimes there's something that's very obvious and you may want to actually share it publicly, if you're in a public position when you commit those sins. Peter publicly denied the Lord with swearing and cursing. And, you know after the resurrection, then Jesus asked him to identify that, and three times he said, Simon Peter, do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me? When you do confession, you want to do the whole confession. Isaiah 6 verse 5. Isaiah was being specific, he said, "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips. And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips, for mine eyes have seen the King." You notice what happened is, when Isaiah said, "I'm a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips," the angel then takes a coal from the altar, and where does he put it? Puts it on his lips. God, when you identify with the specific problems are, you're then giving God permission and power to help you in those specific areas.

And people are saying, well, how often? Doesn't God get tired of hearing me confess to him over and over about the same thing? I think that you will get tired of confessing a lot sooner than God gets tired of hearing. If you ever come to the Lord and you are sincere and sorry about your sin, then he is sincerely willing to forgive you. Peter asked the Lord, "How often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Seven times?" And Jesus said, "70 times 7." And Jesus said, "If your brother comes you seven times in one day, and says, 'I repent,' forgive him."

Now, is God asking us to do less for each other than he's willing to do for us? Don't get discouraged, friends, and think that God is not willing to forgive you. The reason Jesus came into the world is to seek and to save the lost. He is very earnest about wanting to forgive us. That's His supreme desire, that was the mission of Jesus in the world, is to come and to save us.

So, there is a risk that some will wait and confess too late. You know, Judas confessed. He says, I have betrayed innocent blood. But at that point, he had grieved away the Holy Spirit. And the pharaoh, he confessed, and he repented, but he waited until he had grieved away the Holy Spirit. And there's a danger that you can wait too long. It's so important that when you hear God call.

Today is the day of salvation. The Bible says now is the appointed time, today, if you hear his voice. When Jesus calls people, whenever he called the apostles, he said, follow me. They dropped what they were doing and they followed him. And if you're hearing the Holy Spirit speak to you about something now, listen to the Spirit. God is not wanting to take away your joy, he's wanting to give you joy and peace. He says, "I've come that you might have life and have it more abundantly." But before God can lift you up, the Bible says, we must humble ourself before the Lord, and then he will lift us up.

Now, years ago I heard about a coal mine accident, I was in Kentucky somewhere, and this was a long time ago, and these men were trapped. The regular shaft that took them up the elevator and out of the mine was completely imploded, and they thought it was hopeless. Gradually they saw that their lights were growing dim, which made them worry that they were running out of oxygen. But there was one old miner there, and he said, you know, I think there's hope. They were in the dark, but he felt a light breeze. And he said, we had an old ventilation shaft that went from this chamber to another chamber, but you've gotta crawl for almost a quarter mile. It's gonna be dark, you're gonna have to just be on your belly, you can't take any gear with you. He said, follow me, and I think we've got a way out.

Well, they had to get down and crawl for a while, and eventually the shaft, the air duct shaft was open and they were all able to escape. But they all had to unload, and they had to get down, and they had to crawl.

You know, there's a way to freedom, there's a way to the light, but we have to humble ourselves before the Lord. If we will humble ourselves and pray, the Bible tells us, he will then hear our prayers. It's sometimes hard for people to say they're sorry, and, you know, even in the closest relationships, sometimes I find it's harder for couples to apologize to each other than it is for a person to apologize to his work associates or somebody in public. You have to admit your humanity, admit your weakness, and that requires that we humble ourselves. But Jesus says, if we will humble ourselves, he will then lift us up.

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Announcer: The statistics are grim. Millions have been infected by coronavirus, thousands have died. Race riots have broken out on streets, political tensions are at an all-time high. Does the Bible have anything to say about the times in which we are living?

Pastor Doug Batchelor: Hi, friends. This is Pastor Doug Batchelor. Many people are wondering if the world's about to implode. Some are fearful that global events point to a coming crisis unlike anything we've ever witnessed. Did you know the Bible book of Revelation actually speaks about the days in which we're living now? And it contains a message of hope, if we would only listen. That's why I'd like to invite you to "Revelation Now: Decoding the Bible's Greatest Prophecies." In this multi-part series, I'll be sharing relevant truths for our time from the last book in the Bible.

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