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Confession

1 John 1:9 

 

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

This morning, some of our men are away on a continuation of a mission trip we started over the Labor Day weekend. It will probably take at least one more trip for them to complete the renovation of the old A-frame cabin at Jenness Park to transform it into a staff dormitory. 

Last Winter, our men went on another trip-we spent the night beside San Antonio Lake on a Men's camping trip-not the brightest idea we've ever had. Let me tell you that there isn't a word in the English language to clearly communicate how miserable and cold it was there. As my bedtime came and went, I couldn't talk myself into leaving the warm fire and walking back to my Aztec to sleep. Finally, I gathered up the will to go lay down on my soft air mattress and bundle up through the night to get some sleep. And sleep I did for about an hour or so-that's how long it took for the air mattress to deflate. This was my first time to use the air mattress. I reinflated it and made sure the stopper was in good and got back in my sleeping bag to go back to sleep. An hour later it was deflated again. When I got home, I tried to find the hole so I could patch it, but never did find it. It doesn't take a big hole to let all the air out of an air mattress. Given enough time and pressure, even a microscopic whole is enough.

My point is that it isn't just the big stuff that does damage; sometimes even a small problem can cause huge discomfort. The same is true with our walk with the Lord. When we confess our sins, we can't just focus on the big stuff, because the slow leak in our life will get us just as surely as the huge gash in our soul. Over time, even our "small sins" will render us ineffective in our Christian walk. We need to confess everything, even the small stuff.

When I couldn't fix the air mattress, I replaced it with a new one. This Summer, and I underscore the word Summer, Susan & I returned to the same Lake and enjoyed a good night's sleep on a new air mattress-one without holes. The Scripture promises us that God will forgive our sins when we confess them, but we have to confess them to enjoy his forgiveness and cleansing.

There was another time when I noticed a problem with a leak, but that time I didn't do anything about it until it was too late. The leak wasn't in an air mattress--it was in my boat. About a decade ago, we bought an old 14-foot wooden boat to take out on the lake in the summer. When we moved from California to New Mexico, we hauled the boat with us and when we moved back to California three years ago, some of the men from the church drove it out here for us. About the second time I put it in the water in New Mexico I had a couple of friends from the church with me. Now the boat is rated for 4 people, so I didn't think anything of asking two other people to join me on the Lake. What I didn't stop to think is that what the manufacturers of the boat meant by four people was 600 pounds. At the time, I weighed about 280 pounds and I was the smallest of the three.

Dan shifted his weight on the back, and when he did, the boat took on some water. But I didn't reach for the bucket to bail it out. It wasn't any big deal as far as I was concerned. I'd pull the stern plug when we got back to shore and drain the water out. With a normal load on board, it might have been right, but we didn't have a normal load. While I was busy fishing, the weight of the load in the boat and the water we took on was enough to drop the back of the boat enough that we slowly began to take on water. By the time we noticed it, it was too late. The boat sunk and we swam to shore. Luckily, we were on an Army Corps of Engineers lake and they helped pull my boat out, but not exactly in one piece-it was pretty torn up. When I remade the boat, I put enough Styrofoam in it so it would float even if it was 2/3's full of water and I installed a bilge pump. Today when I take on even a little bit of water, I pump it out. I don't wait until I get to shore to drain it. I learned a lesson from sinking my boat--never wait to take care of a small leak. The Scripture teaches us to confess our sins-it doesn't say just the big ones, we need to confess them all.

But that doesn't mean we don't need to confess the big stuff too.

Whenever I've traveled, I've gladly submitted to the extra precautions the government has mandated since the terrorists attacks on 9-11. Yes, they're inconvenient, but necessary. With that said, I've also chuckled a few times as I've pondered the irony of some of the policies. Recently I read a report from someone who saw a rotation of the National Guard Shift at an airport as he waited in line to go through his security check.

The soldier that was about to relieve the guard on duty had to go through the medal detector, just like everyone else. He handed his M-16 rifle, his handcuffs and other highly metallic items like his flashlight to the security personnel before he walked through the medal detector. The alarm still went off, so they patted him down and discovered a Swiss army knife in his pocket. "Sorry, sir," the security officer said to the soldier, "but this item is prohibited."

After confiscating the pocketknife, the security guard gave him back his other items, including his M-16 and let him in the secured area of the airport so he could do his job.
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It is possible for us to be so focused on the small sins that we commit that we overlook the gigantic attitude problems we have. Greed, pride, laziness, arrogance-these and other attitudes are huge problems that we can easily overlook while we are confessing the small acts of sin that plague all of us. Yes, we have to watch out for the small leak, but we also have to avoid becoming comfortable with gigantic problems.

Matthew 23:23 says, "How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest part of your income, but you ignore the important things of the law-justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but you should not leave undone the more important things." (NLT )

Why do we need to be careful to confess all of our sins big and small? Because our enemy is anxious to exploit our weaknesses.

You don't hear me talk about movies much, because frankly I seldom go. But I am a Harrison Ford fan, and do watch some of his movies on video occasionally. There is one scene in particular that I love from one of his Indiana Jones movies. Jones encounters a master swordsman who taunts Jones by swinging his weapon in beautiful symmetry, communicating very clearly that he intends to slice and dice Jones into a million pieces.

Jones looked like he was impressed with the show of force as he drew his pistol and shot the man. There are a couple of life lessons I've learned from that movie clip. One is don't miss the obvious. Instead of showing off his skill with his sword, Jones' opponent should have been more observant and noticed that he was unprepared for the coming battle. Or to put it another way, don't take a knife to a gunfight.

Don't think for a minute that your battle is with your will. You don't need to just exercise more discipline or bear down a bit harder to be successful in your Christian walk, you need God's help.

Paul wrote, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." Ephes. 6:12

Spiritual battles require spiritual weapons-don't take a knife to a gun fight, be prepared. The means that God has given we sinners to be cleansed is to confess our sins-large and small-our actions and our attitudes. And when we do, He has promised to forgive us of all our sins, but His promise is more than just to forgive us, He's promised to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.

Take a moment to think about sinful actions and attitudes in your life that you need to confess. Confess them now, and discipline yourself to make regular confession a part of your daily walk with God. Why daily? Because we sin daily, don't we? Keep a short account with God, don't let your sin build up. Confess it regularly and enjoy the forgiveness and cleansing He gives when you're faithful to confess your sins to Him. 

Impact Preaching: A Case for the
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