Friday, March 18, 2005


I don't know anyone who has an easy time confessing their sins. I know I don't. When I get right down to it, I think it's hard to admit that I am proud and self-sufficient. Neither one of which I am happy about. I don't want to be that way but it seems to come so very easy!

I am constantly encouraged as I read in the Bible, time after time, when Israel sinned then sought repentance, God forgave. Thankfully He is faithful to do that with me, also. Along with confession there needs to be repentance. Repent...taking responsibility for my sin and its consequences. Ouch!

Back in the early 1800's Charles Finney, who many regard as the greatest revival preacher in church history, led more than half a million people to Christ! What is significant about this is that the people were actually converted. His preaching turned entire communities upside down. It was not uncommon for bar gatherings to be transformed into prayer meetings and for courthouses to be left without any cases to put on trial. How would that be today? Often today, there may be a revival in a city but that city is left largely unchanged. *sigh*

Finney explained exactly what he meant by confession and repentance:
Look back over your past history. Take up your individual sins one by one,
and look at them. I do not mean that you should just cast a glance at your
past life, and see that it has been full of sins, and then go to God and
make a sort of general confession, and ask for pardon. That is not the way.
You must take them up one by one. It will be a good thing to take a pen and
paper, as you go over them, and write them down as they occur to you. Go
over them as carefully as a merchant goes over his books; and as often as a
sin comes before your memory, add it to the list. General confessions of sin
will never do. Your sins were committed one by one; and as far as you can
come at them, they ought to be reviewed and repented of one by one.
Charles G. Finney, Lectures on Revivals of Religion: How to Promote a Revival.

We are so rich yet, rather than being grateful for God's provisions, so often I find us discontented and constantly clamoring for more. Finney goes on to list common sins with the first being ingratitude. He mentioned neglecting the Bible, prayer, and such other "means of grace" as public worship; lack of compassion in general and unconcern for the lost, specifically; and last but not least, selfishness and a complete disregard for Christ's command and example of self-denial. From the sins of omission Finney turned his attention to the sins of commission: pride, envy, slander (gossip), lying, cheating, robbing God by withholding your tithe, squandering your time in vain pursuits, and temper. You know what is amazing? He doesn't even mention the sins that we would think of as "biggies". Finney focused on nice, polite church sins...the sins of the heart. *Ouch!*

Remember though, God's objective isn't to make us cry. Look at 2 Corinthians 7:9-11, "...Yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done."

Oh we may begin with tears but soon that turns to great joy. "Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him" (Psalm 126:5-6).


Kim said...

Clare, I have just been flipping through the book The Prayer Factor by Sammy Tippit, and I read the account of Finney's work in revival!

I, too, have been convicted about confession this week. There was an article in TableTalk magazine about our reluctance to confess.

Thanks for sharing this.

Pilot Mom said...

Isn't it amazing how the Holy Spirit works, Kim? Thanks for dropping in for a visit.