Bible Study for Nov. 18: A Prayer of Confession

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Matthew 6:12-13; Psalm 51:1-7; 10-12
Victor S. Lyons, Pastor
Second Memorial Baptist Church, Perry

We often define the word confession as something that is done in the presence of a priest who can absolve sins. Martin Luther found this method useless in his own life, and later discovered its absence from the pages of the New Testament. This was not God’s way to forgive sins. Confession is repentance, and we are called to repent!

Because of the above, many prefer the word repentance instead of the word confession. It was the latin Vulgate that translated the Greek word metanoeite/repent repentance as confession (Mark 1:15). Jesus said to repent and believe (Gk. pisteuete). Romans 1:17 states that the righteous will live by faith. Thus, repentance calls for a radical change or turning around.

Others ignore the call to confess or repent, and assume that baptism has washed away all past sins and also covers all those to come. Sin is minimized.

Let’s look closely at God’s Word.

Ask for forgiveness and protection from future temptations.
Matthew 6:12-13

Why should we reject temptation?

Temptation does not come from God (James 1:13); however, it is God who allows it as He is sovereign over all things. In allowing the opportunity for sin, He also creates the conditions for victory over sin. Indeed, temptation has its origin in mankind’s sinful nature, Satan’s promotion, and the unstable course of the world (Ephesians 2:1-4).

What are some aids that God can give a person in overcoming temptation? First, the Scriptures reveal the biblical principles of a successful life, and the consequences of one filled with sin. Second, God gives the presence of the Holy Spirt who will guide but also empower the living of a holy life. Third, He provides the gift of the church family.

Confess sin and ask God’s forgiveness.
Psalm 51:1-7

The Psalmist is aware of his sinfulness, and honestly admits his rebellions and his sins, his guilt, the evil which in our words stares him in the face. Sin is something that must be worked out between the sinner and God.

As a Christian, our only intermediary is Christ, the sacrifice and the one through whom we have redemption (Hebrews 8, 10). He is superior to the sacrifices of the Old Testament and is the one true High Priest who is seated in heavenly places.

The steps to forgiveness include an awareness of sin. The Scriptures defines sin and reveals its depth (Genesis 3-11; Exodus 20; Proverbs; Galatians 5; 2 Timothy 3). We must adjust our moral sensitivity to that of God’s Word.

No doubt the world has its own list of dos and don’ts, which often are whimsical and ever-changing. That checklist often falls far short of God’s Word, emphasizing the external more than the internal. Political correctness often replaces moral integrity.

Repentance brings cleansing. An Old Testament external symbol of this cleansing was hyssop (v. 7), a small bush with branches covered in small white flowers.

Hyssop branches were used to sprinkle the lamb’s blood that the death angel would see and pass over the homes of the Hebrews in Egypt (Exodus 12:22). Later hyssop branches were used in other rituals (Leviticus 14; Numbers 19).

What is hyssop? When was it first used?

Seek restoration and renewal.
Psalm 51:10-12

In legal terms, the plaintiff seeks relief for an injury done. The judge may ask, “What relief are you seeking?”  In moral terms, we should seek the relief that God offers for our sins.

What are the results of restoration? First, a clean heart! The weight is lifted! Second, a steadfast spirit is produced. Sin has a way of multiplying itself through lying about the deed, calling the deed normal—everybody does it—and then the repetition of the deed. God’s grace breaks this cycle. Third, joy returns, replacing the shame and fear that sin creates.  Finally, restoration and renewal bring a willing spirit. Gone is the rebellious nature. Obedience to God’s will and a life worth living are the fruits of a willing spirit.

Live it Out

Understand the full nature and tragic consequences of sin.

Do not be ashamed to admit to God that you have sinned.

Ask for God’s forgiveness and power to be healed from sin’s grip.

Help others know God’s relief in Christ from their sins.

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