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...good for the soul

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tn A Person Driven Life std confession tWe took a break from our Person Driven Life series to celebrate our African, African American and West Indian cultures, as well as our church’s history.  This week we return to our regularly scheduled program, resuming our study of the book Steps to Christ in an attempt to emulate the most impressive, yet enigmatic person in the history of the world – Jesus Christ.

We pick up our series discussing what can sometimes be an ambiguous concept – it’s a concept that brings immense freedom, yet because of our inability to understand what it really means, many of us continue to struggle under the weight of sin as well as the guilt and self loathing that comes with sin. What’s the concept?  Confession.

For many of us, praise and worship is synonymous with music. This is a huge mistake.  Praise and worship should not be reduced to what happens before the sermon and after the offering.  Instead, every aspect of a church service should be considered an act of worship: the music, tithes & offering, prayer, children’s story, the sermon and the benediction.

There are some things that we may not always include in a worship experience that also constitute worship. For instance, Rick Warren in his book Purpose Driven Life lists silence, being still, taking notes, baptism, signing a commitment card, greeting other worshipers and even confession as acts of worship.

Not only is confession a part of praise and worship, it is a powerful tool for reconciling the sinner to Christ. John tells us, “If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.” (1 John 1:9 NLT) When you go to God humbly, confessing your sins with no attempt at making excuses or shifting blame, but rather accepting full responsibility for your mistakes and asking forgiveness, Paul says, “it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.” (Romans 10:10 NLT)

There is a potential danger, however, that we draw near to Jesus with our mouths, while our hearts are far from Him.  This is why David says, “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” (Psalm 34:18 KJV)  But what does this look like?

“Confession will not be acceptable to God without sincere repentance and reformation. There must be decided changes in the life; everything offensive to God must be put away. This will be the result of genuine sorrow for sin.” {SC 39.1}

Mrs. White also states “True repentance will lead a man to bear his guilt himself and acknowledge it without deception or hypocrisy… and those who do acknowledge their guilt will be justified, for Jesus will plead His blood in behalf of the repentant soul.” {SC 40.2}

Notice the first thing needed is honest repentance, but no need to worry:  the goodness of God leads us to repentance. Second, some real changes have to be made in our lives – not simply aspired to, but actually implemented in our daily living.  Again – God has us covered:  remember, we are being changed into the image of Christ by the Spirit of the Lord.

But many of us are afraid to just be honest with God. Warren says, “God can handle frank, intense honesty from you… What may appear as audacity God views as authenticity.  God listens to the passionate words of his friends; he is bored with predictable, pious clichés.”

Researchers in the U.S. and Israel, in a series of studies involving over 4,000 people, found that people who only partially confessed a transgression felt worse than those who did not confess at all. Dr. Eyal Pe’er, the study’s lead author, had a surprisingly biblical angle on the results. He said, “Confessing to only part of the guilt of one's transgression is attractive to a lot of people because they expect the confession to be more believable and guilt-relieving than not confessing. But our findings show the exact opposite … People seeking redemption by partially admitting their big lies feel guiltier because they do not take complete responsibility for their behaviors.”

The Harvard Business Review summarized the research this way: “Confession is a powerful way to relieve guilt, but it works only if you tell the whole truth.”

We’re not on trial, but it appears that God expects nothing but “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” from us.  Confession is indeed good for the soul.

 

Warren, Rick (2012-10-23). The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? (Kindle Location 854). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Andrew O'Connell, “A Partial Confession Makes You Feel Worse …”  HBR Blog Network/The Daily Stat (2-13-14); “Telling the Whole Truth May Ease Feelings of Guilt,” American Psychological Association (1-23-14)

 

 

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Pastor Johns joined our congregation in June of 2011 and his infectious love for Christ has us all energized and ready to evangelize. Pastor Johns has a passion for personal evangelism and he desires to make us all serious students of the Bible so that we can share what we know. His Wednesday evening Bible study program - Prep School - is unlike anything you've ever seen, but it will get you delving into the Word as you may have never done before. He believes "this is our church; this is our city!"

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