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A Life Changing Experience
The Power of Confession and Repentance
An amazing thing is that as we confess and ask God to pardon us, He comes down and meets our needs. I do not know whether you have ever come to a place of confession, but I remember when the Lord came to me, I began to see wrong attitudes in my life. I confessed these attitudes and God swept in with marvelous power.
In this sixth lesson on prayer, I am speaking from 2 Chronicles 7:14. I believe there is a lesson for the whole of our nation. "If My people, which are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven. I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land."
We had a man, W. P. Nickelson, who came from Ireland in 1920. This was a time of great strife and difficulty. He believed that if God's people would confess and make things right, the Lord would fill the church with sinners. Very often there has to be a start in revival from God's own people. There has to be a self-humbling, a praying, and a seeking of God's face. There has to be a turning from our sinful ways so that He can heal our nation. Eighty percent of those who were converted under Mr. Nickelson's ministry in Ireland have never gone back, and many of them have gone out as missionaries in the power of God.
I think there is a place for confession; some public and some personal. For instance, I read in Numbers 21:7 that there was a national confession when Israel as a nation was numbered. This led to disease. The nation was healed when God showed Moses that he was to make a brass serpent (Numbers 21:8). As the people confessed, God showed the answer in setting up that serpent in the wilderness.
Again in Judges 10:15,16, Israel had said, "we have sinned," and they got rid of their foreign gods. They served the Lord. In Judges 11:1, Jeptha the Gileadite was raised up to bring them deliverance. I see when Israel left its idols with Samuel in 1 Samuel 7:6, they said "we have sinned". Samuel began to pray, and in verse 9 he cried and God heard him as he offered up the lamb.
Again in Ezra 9, he prayed, "God, we are too ashamed. I am disgraced and ashamed to lift up my face to You, my God, for our iniquities have risen above our heads, and our guilt has grown even to the heavens." In Ezra 10:1, while he was confessing and weeping, a large crowd gathered, and the people were healed.
In the 1940's on the island of the Hebrides, four men met to pray. One night one of them said, "God has spoken to me saying, 'Who shall ascend to the hill of the Lord, but who has cleans hands and a pure heart.' My hands are not clean, my heart is not pure." He fell down, confessing his sin, and in that barn God came in power! God said to them clearly, "I will send a man, Duncan Campbell, to you."
In a faith mission convention, that man was told to leave and go to the island of the Hebrides. And as he arrived, the four men met him. They said, "Mr. Campbell, we presume?" Immediately, he went into the church and God swept through the island. Within a short period of time every single person had found Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.
I believe in Nehemiah's case that he prayed and fasted on the nation's behalf (Nehemiah 1:6). He confessed the sins of the Israelites. As a cupbearer to the King in Nehemiah 2:4, he was released to go and raise up the walls of Jerusalem. The story of Nehemiah is a story of national confession, personal confession, and the resurrection of the nation.
In Daniel 9:5, Daniel confessed, "We have sinned. We have done wrong. We have been wicked and rebelled, O Lord." Then, "Forgive us" (verse 19) and "while I was speaking" (verse 20). He says, "while still in prayer" (verse 21), Gabriel, the angel visited him and gave insight and prophecy of national blessing yet to come.
What is true of the nation though, is true personally and people have often said to me, "Brother Keith, I would like to move in the gifts of revelation and prophecy." Well, Balaam had a donkey, and the donkey prophesied, so I think the Lord can manage you in some of these gifts. In Numbers 23:34, when Balaam heard the donkey speaking, he suddenly realized there was an angel in front of him with a drawn sword, and he confessed his sin. The Lord said in verse 35, "Go with the man, but only speak what I tell you." Okay, he got forgiveness, and he got a conditional release, provided he obeyed God.
Again in Joshua 7:20, Achan's sin was discovered through the lottery, and the truth was forced out of him. Joshua aid, "Why did you bring trouble on us? The Lord will bring trouble on you." And they stoned him. Personal sin, personal confession can set the church on the way to victory. I am afraid in the case of King Saul, in 1 Samuel 15:24, Samuel had to face up to this king with his sin, and the confession of disobedience really forced out of him. He said, "I was afraid of the people." So there was no blessing for King Saul and he died in heathen hands.
On the other hand in David's confession to Nathan of bigamy and murder (2 Samuel 12:13), the Lord said, "The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die, but there are consequences for your sin which your family will carry."
In the case of John the Baptist, his converts both confessed sins, and made restitution. And in Mark 1:5, the whole countryside went after him as they did W. P. Nickelson. They burnt many old things and restored items that were stolen. I believe when Simon Peter acknowledged his sin in John 21:6, Jesus said, "Do you love me?" three times, and then set him free. God began to move in Simon's life. Simon, take care of My sheep, looking after those that you feed, Jesus said, and suddenly Peter not only forgives what is past, but is trusted with a future ministry.
Great men of God like Paul, who was a murderer and Moses who was a murderer, God uses and forgives what is past. There is a very clear word that God wants to restore those who trust in Him. 1 John 1:7-9 says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Nothing is left.
What then is the power of confession? I believe confession of sin brings several results. First in Leviticus 16:21, when you confess and lay hands on the head of the live goat, sin is removed through the sacrifice of Jesus. Secondly, judgment is removed in Leviticus 26:40-45. There was a putting away of the judgment.
In Deuteronomy 28, the curse of the law was sickness, poverty, and defeat. But Jesus took that curse in the New Testament and very clearly you can be healed. You can have prosperity and you can have victory through the judgment of God being removed.
But with that there must be a putting away of sinful things. There must be a restitution for all you have stolen. We find this in Ezra 10:1. In fact in Proverbs 28:13, the Bible says, "He who conceals his sin does not prosper, but whoever confesses them and renounces them will find mercy."
And so, there is a return of stolen stuff. There is a definiteness in confession. And God will then pardon (Isaiah 55:7) when you return to the Lord. He will have mercy and He will freely make it right. Be definite in what you confess.
What are the promises God makes when we come to Him in penitence? There are several. First in Psalm 34:18, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit." God will draw near and God will deliver. Secondly, the Lord will accept worship from you. In Psalm 51:17, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart you will not despise." Thirdly, in Isaiah 66:2, "I am looking for one who is humble and contrite in spirit, who trembles at My word."
Fourthly, God will watch over the penitent. God will keep His eyes upon and guide the penitent. He will also give them pastors and shepherds to look after them. Jeremiah 3:14, 15 says, "Return, faithless people. I am your husband, I will choose you! I will give you shepherds after My own heart. They will lead you with knowledge and understanding." And fifthly, salvation and deliverance will come to you. 2 Corinthians 7:10 says, "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret."
Worldly sorrow, when you get found out, leads to death. So, before there is a revival, I see God brings a repentance. His people start to pray. Maybe as an individual you start to pray. I have found as I go through the ten commandments in Exodus 20:1-17, the commands of Jesus, and put them down on paper -- very definitely this is where I see I failed. I confess it and put it right.
And then in detail, I put definite things I need to do to make restitution. And out of these, I have found as I have been moving with God, that God shows me where I have fallen short. I deal with sin in detail. And God forgives me and cleanses me.
Chris Meane, a sinner who used to drink a lot, gave up alcohol and began to sing, and as he sang with us in many of our meetings in Northern Ireland, people got healed! God wants you to have a new start! You can have champagne at night, but the real pain comes in the morning! Be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).
And God leads you through. Where other people are involved, do not forget. Put things right! If you had wrong attitudes, or if you owe them, or have stolen money from them, put it right as far as you are able, and God will move upon you. You say, "Well, what about the future?" Let God take care of the future. He will make things right!
Let me close by sharing a story that illustrates the power of confession and restoration. We had a burglar and his son came and I talked to them in the Midlands. He told us his father's story. His father was cashiered from the army and became a thief. But his father had a praying mother. She kept on praying that God would undertake. His father would go around to houses at night and he would look for opportunities to steal. He saw this house and he saw the light go out about half past ten. So, on one particular Thursday night, he went to this house, but the light was on!
And out of embarrassment, he went down to the garden and opened up the shed. He found there was a prayer meeting. So he took his jimmy and all his burglar tools and parked them under the bench and pretended to pray."
But the Holy Spirit came down in answer to his mother's prayer and suddenly he found himself confessing, "I am a sinner. You need to pray for me. I need to have Jesus!" And so they prayed for him. "Now," he says, "you may pray for me again, because I've been a thief. How am I going to earn a living? I've got to start a decent job!"
They said, "Okay, we'll pray for you. God has forgiven you. He is now going to give you a job."
In the morning, his phone rang, "Are you there?"
"Yes," he said.
"I want to start you as my taxi driver."
"But I've got a bad record."
"I don't care about your record. Can you drive?"
"Listen mate," he said, "I've avoided more police cars than you'll ever see."
"Can you drive fast??
He said, "I certainly can. I beat the police every time."
"Well," he says, "you can start and don't chase police cars. Move forward in our taxi service."
So, the Lord heard his confession and forgave Him. And because of his public confession and repentance, the Lord provided an opportunity for a new start for him.
Never underestimate the power of confession and repentance.. God will turn circumstances around for those confess their sins, turn from them and then embrace God's forgiveness.