This is the second part in the Beyond Today Bible study series: The Time Is Now! Personal renewal begins with prayer. Daniel’s prayer of confession gives us a key to begin anew.
[Darris McNeely] We are ready to begin. If you all would please go ahead and rise. I will ask God’s blessing on the Bible study tonight here and we will get started. Great God in heaven, Father, we bow and give You thanks for this evening and for bringing all of us here safely together. We pray that those who are with us via the webcast are in good health as well. We pray for them and their well-being. We thank You Father for our calling and the knowledge that You have opened to our minds and hearts to understand as we study tonight into a very personal and very important matter that relates to our spiritual welfare. We pray Father that Your blessing would be upon us here. And upon the hearing, help us to understand deeply something that is very important in terms of developing a very close relationship with You. So we pray for Your guidance. We pray for Your blessing. We do so in Christ name. Amen.
I am going to open tonight with a personal story and I guess, in keeping with my title, it’s a bit of a confession. But I am going to go back a few years and tell of myself, something that happened to me that kind of shook my life and formed my life at a very young age. I was taken with my mother. I was probably four, five years old and we had stopped one day at the little local grocery store, the kind that used to have years ago run by usually a husband and wife, and just a local neighborhood grocery store where you can get everything from a box of cereal to a quarter milk to a pound of baloney, hand sliced right there on the spot and wrapped up in a white wrapping paper for you. As my mother was going through the aisles shopping, I wandered as I did, as any four year old would do, into the candy aisle. And stores like that always had half an aisle of candy and all kinds of all loose penny candy. And I didn’t have any money on me and I looked and I lusted and I looked and I lusted and I knew for some reason that mom wasn’t going to buy me the candy that day and so I reasoned in my mind, they are not going to miss just a few pieces of penny candy.
So I just kind of reached in, grabbed a few and stuck it in my pocket and whistled Dixie on the way home. I got home and I decided to enjoy my candy and I had a little secret, I thought it was a secret spot, the stairway behind the bedroom leading up to the attic where I was going to sit there and enjoy it and I was probably rustling the papers a little bit too loud. My mother heard me, she opened the door and wondered, “What are you doing? Where did you get that candy?” And so this is my George Washington moment, right here. And I said, “I took it from the grocery store.” And did she hit the ceiling. Like a Saturn 5 rocket about to take off. She jerked me off that staircase and whatever I had in my mouth was half chewed and whatever, she probably made me spit it out and whatever was left in my pocket, she dragged me out to the car and back to that grocery store, we went and to the owner she put and she said, “You tell him what you did.” And here I was, what do I do? I am caught, busted. And I told him and I was ashamed, I cried and he forgave me, whatever, and I went home and I am sure I got a spanking out of all of that. But I tell you from that, I learned a lesson. I didn’t do any more shoplifting after that. I really learned a big lesson. I am grateful for that. My mother taught me that at a very early age. It kept me from being an angel with a dirty face, for those of you that know that old movie. And set me on the right course. What I had to do, obviously, was to confess that I had taken the candy and it was not mine, it had not been paid for. It was embarrassing, but in the process I learned a big lesson and got cleared of it. I was embarrassed for the moment and chagrined and after a day or two, you passed over it but I never forgot the lesson.
And I use that story of myself to get into what I want to talk about here tonight, which has been entitled “Confession is Good for the Soul.” What I want to do with us tonight is take us through one of most profound prayers in Scripture. Back in Daniel 9. So you can go ahead and start turning to Daniel 9. We have in Daniel 9, one of, not less than a handful of prayers that are made in the Bible by some of the men of God where they actually prayed for the people of God. And this is a prayer that David made for the people. For his people Israel. Remember the story, Daniel was a young Jewish man taken captive with all the other Jews to Babylon after Nebuchadnezzar II had invaded the land in the first invasion of that period, and he took the cream of the crop, among them being Daniel and his friends to Babylon, and the story goes out there. And when we come to the story in Daniel 9, Babylon has fallen to the Persians. Daniel has carried on his role there in the court. He now serves the Persian kings and Daniel is all through the book of Daniel, I like to bring it out, he is asking a great question. “Why did all these happen and what about my people Israel and what’s going on here?” And Daniel was aware of certain statements and promises and actually a prophesy that God had made that is known in the Bible as the 70 weeks prophesy or a prophesy that after 70 years actually, the Jews would return to Jerusalem and he knew about this. And he continued to wonder and think, why did God let this happen to my people? Why did God punish my people? It’s not that he didn’t know, but what did the future hold? And he mourned for the condition that he and the nation was in all these years, as he survived in a way that he did in Babylon. And when the chapter opens here in Daniel 9. We find that it is the first year of the King Darius of the Medes, who has been king over the realm of the Chaldeans. And verse 2 tells us that in the first year of his reign as Daniel writes it, “I Daniel understood by the books, the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah, the prophet, that we would accomplish 70 years in the desolations of Jerusalem.” Jeremiah was the prophet that prophesied prior to the fall of Judah and Jerusalem for a number of years, more than four decades Jeremiah did his prophesying.
And on several occasion in Jeremiah, actually two that we know of in chapter 28, beginning in verse 11 of Jeremiah and also Jeremiah 29, there is this promise that God makes that, beyond the time of the punishment for their sins and the captivity that they would endure, they would return in 70 years. And so Daniel knew that prophesy. He was familiar with the prophesies of Jeremiah and particularly this one. No doubt this particular prophesy of return after 70 years grew larger in the minds of those who knew about it in the captivity in Jerusalem as they got closer. And at this point in the story, Daniel is now an older man and he is getting closer to the end of this 70 year period. And he knows that something has got to happen and will happen and yet it hasn’t necessarily, and he is wondering again about the fate of his people. And that’s kind of the setting for this effort that he begins to make as he begins to pray. Because in verse 3, he begins in his prayer and it’s a very, very important prayer.
Now, you will remember from another episode in Daniel’s life, again during the Persian period, they had tried to trap Daniel by his…and kind of undermine him and kind of get him out of the way, some of the underlings of the court. The other way they can get to him was to make a false decree that you couldn’t pray to anybody but the King, and Daniel went ahead and prayed as it says his custom was three times a day. He was a praying man.
And so when we look at this prayer, it’s kind of a focused period of prayer. It goes on for several days that he gets involved in it here and what it tells us is a number of different things. It’s well worth us going through these verses. So let’s begin in verse 3 and let’s look at what it says, right away here. It says in verse 3, “I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.” All right, and what are we told here? Number one, we are told that he set himself, his face toward God, which is an expression of determination. Daniel has cleared the deck of all his other duties and responsibilities at this point as he makes this prayer. He probably could very well at this point have gotten off to himself to a private place and maybe a retreat type setting and he marked away the time, marked it off on his calendar. Didn’t let anything come in that was going to distract him. That’s what it means to set your face.
There are times when we need to do that, when we need to just push away the distractions and even if necessary get a baby-sitter, maybe a husband and wife do something like this for a day or a weekend. We have our retreats for the men, we have our ladies’ retreats, and we do a whole week long retreat, more or less, for our young people. It’s called summer camp, which is a retreat-like setting. And there is nothing wrong as we can do it within our means and schedule to set a period of time aside, just for setting ourselves toward God to seek Him. And he did this by prayer. And by supplications and by fasting. Now, his fast could have taken on a complete no water, no food fast for a period of time. It may have been maybe just a water only. It might have been on another occasion, the indication is that he just ate very minimally for a three-week period of time. But the fasting was there, and he put on sackcloth and ashes. Now how does that relate to us today? Well, it’s kind of difficult. We don’t necessarily sit around in ashes today. The ashes is a symbol of humility and really just prostrating ourselves. I guess, you could take a few ashes out of your coal grate, your fire grate and toss some over your head or something like that. Don’t put them on your forehead. That’s another practice there but we wouldn’t necessarily do that. But it’s a symbol of humility.
Sackcloth was very rough clothing which basically tells us that he put aside not only everyday type clothing and put on a sackcloth, which very utilitarian, wouldn’t take a lot of care. He probably didn’t have to spend a lot of time figuring out, now which sackcloth do I put on today? He probably had one. One color, one style, one design which again simplifies your life a lot, you don’t have to, “Oh, does this match? Hmm, let me look in the mirror on this.”
You see the whole process that this is telling us that he really did clear the deck and again, living a life that does keep a lot of the distractions from eating away our time and attention is very good on a regular basis so that we can be focused on our job and our lives and even to a spiritual life. But he set himself to seek God and to talk with God and to seek God’s understanding and the mind of God on this particular issue for a period of time. Now in verse he 4 tells us this, “I pray to the Lord my God, and I made confession and I said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him and with those who keep His commandments.” Note that word confession, right there. This is a verbal expression of his state of mind, and as we are going to see, of sin. It is what I had to do when my mother caught me with a pilfered candy. I had to confess. It hurt, but it was good for me and my life from that point on. I learned a big, big lesson about stealing, as perhaps you did in your own way with your life. Maybe something like that took place with you and you got caught up short. But I had to confess. I could have lied and that would have compounded the problem and she knew that it would have been a lie. I could have just dug in my heels and said, “I am not going to go and face the grocer.” But I had to face this adult who again, as I was raised to respect my adult, any adult in my life. If I disrespected a teacher, showed disrespect for a family member, aunt or an uncle or a neighbor, if they didn’t do it right there and some of them did, the teachers I had, they would take care of it right there on the spot and mom and dad found out about it at home, I got it twice, no questions asked.
And the confession here, the verbal admission and even to the point of the verbal expression of sin is what really is at the heart of what we are talking about in this prayer and what I want to get across to us here tonight. But this is a very important, critical component of cleansing ourselves of sin. The verbal expression, we will come back to that, but I want that up front to be understood. That’s the main point perhaps that we are dealing with here tonight in this study. So he verbalizes this to God, “O Lord, You are great, You are awesome. You keep your covenant mercy to those who keep Your commandments.” Look what he said in verse 5. Verse 5 really gets into, drills deep into the confession. “We have sinned and committed iniquity.” All right? You know, that’s a big admission. It is a big admission for me to say to my mom, “Yeah, I stole it. I took it from the grocery store.” How about you? How hard has it been for you at any point to admit a sin? Now, a sin is a sin is a sin. We are not necessarily categorizing any sins tonight; all sin brings the same penalty spiritually before God. All sin must have the same sacrifice applied to it, which is the blood of Jesus Christ. So in one sense, sin is sin. But as Daniel lays this out here, he says, “We have sinned and committed iniquity.” Now, a sin of stealing a bit of candy is one sin, the sin of another type of lie that might actually hurt other people, maybe irreparably in their life or their reputation, perhaps the magnitude of the consequence is bigger there.
But sin and iniquity here can take many different forms and it can be a sin that is momentary, weakness of the flesh. I had a weakness of the flesh momentarily. It was not an engrained habit that I was used to or that I continued on obviously with the rest of my life. Sometimes, even as adults we will sin out of a momentary weakness. But that doesn’t mean that it is a hardened aspect of character in terms of, say, a willful resentment or a willful type of sin that the Bible talks about. Okay. I can distinguish that, again, keeping in mind sin is sin is sin, but what Daniel is describing here is sin that in a sense moves deeper because he says, in the second phrase here of the verse, “We have done wickedly and rebelled” as he describes Israel. We have done wickedly and we have rebelled, he says. Now rebellion, God says in another occasion, when Saul had rebelled against the instructions sent through Samuel and a sacrifice of the people and it’s in 1 Samuel 16 (1 Samuel 15), God says, “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.” Witchcraft is pretty deep and it’s pretty much of an engrained habit for those who give themselves over to that type of a dark spirit.
He said, we’ve not only sinned but we have done wickedly and we have rebelled. That implies a series if you will, serial sins over a period of time that sets one or a group of people on a course of wicked rebellion, in this case, against God. It goes even deeper. And he says, “Even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments.” Israel and Judah sinned. Everybody was human, it was just the course of the human nature but they also rebelled against God, but then they departed wholesale away from God’s teachings and His judgments, His laws and His commandments to the point where they would not repent even when prophet after prophet after prophet went to them, urging them, carrying a message from God to turn back to God, to the covenant. They wouldn’t do it. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Amos. Look at the various prophets that are in the story of Israel and Judah. There are messages that have been left for us, and they went and they went and they went. There is one occasion during the kingship of Hezekiah, good king Hezekiah. Remember, he instituted reforms, cleaned out the temple, reinstituted the Holy Days and in 2 Chronicles 30:10 2 Chronicles 30:10So the posts passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh even to Zebulun: but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them.
American King James Version×, Hezekiah has prepared this…they are going to keep the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread in Jerusalem for first time in years.
And he sends his messengers out into the other cities to the North, as far as Ephraim and Manasseh and even as far as it says as Zebulon to the north, inviting them to come to Jerusalem and keep the Holy Days. It says, they laughed the messengers to scorn, and they would not come. They mocked them. They wouldn’t go down. Now, that is a removal, in a sense that’s a sin that is moved to not only rebellion but where it says they utterly departed from God’s precepts and judgments. Didn’t even want to consider it. When confronted frontally. Sometimes, even in our own day as people have turned from the faith, I have seen situations where a person turns from the faith of God and then to the point it went from sin to rebellion to mocking. The idea of keeping the Sabbath, keeping the Holy Days or the faith that they once knew. That’s pretty deep. This is what Daniel says happened to his people. He confesses this. He lays it right out. He said, “We have not heeded your servants, the profits who spoke in Your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers and all the people of the land.”
Then he goes onto verse 7, “Oh, Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us, shame of face, as it is this day – to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed to against You.” And so his prayer becomes one of a confession for the entire people. For all of the people. “O Lord, to us,” in verse 8 “belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers because we have sinned against You.” The language here is very much like that of King David in Psalm 51 where he said, where David prayed, “God, against You and You only have I sinned.” And this is the depth of the confession. He goes on in verse 9. “To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him.” He always puts God and His mercy and His forgiveness front and center even as he confesses the sins of the people. “We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets. Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him.”
Now the oath that he refers to that is written in the Law of Moses here in verse 11, again, he would have known quite well. It would be the oath that is written out in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28, what we call the blessings and cursing chapters. Where God said to Israel, “If you obey Me, the covenant we have made, I will do this, I will do this, and I will bless you. You will have abundant harvests. You will have good health. You will lend and you will not be in debt.” And in Deuteronomy 28:7 Deuteronomy 28:7The LORD shall cause your enemies that rise up against you to be smitten before your face: they shall come out against you one way, and flee before you seven ways.
American King James Version×, He makes a comment. He says that your enemies will flee before you, because they obey. Then He goes on and says, “but if you disobey,” then He lists the curses as well. And at the end of the both of those two chapters, He also says, “but if you repent then I will restore you.” That’s always a part of God’s promise. But those are two very deep chapters that Daniel calls to mind here that are described here in the Law of Moses and he knows that what has happened to his people has been because of that. And that great disaster has taken place.
When we look at those two chapters, as we have in the church for many years, we have understood those two apply to God’s people today, to modern Israel, to the people, the English-speaking nations who have been the recipients of promises to Abraham in a physical sense in this time of the end, this period of history where the English-speaking people of America, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and others that have been impacted by their relationship with them through their last 250 years have all benefited in many different ways from that.
And we understand that the responsibility of what God says there is upon our nations today and really in the larger term, it’s upon all nations, but specifically to the English-speaking nations. I have been thinking about that. I think all of us have been trying to figure out the impact and the meaning of the most recent terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday night and the shock of the attacks there in the City of Light, 129 people killed with over 300 wounded. In the course of three weeks before that 200, nearly 300 people were shot, what is apparently now bombed, out of the sky, a Russian jet liner. But because of our, let’s say our relationships, and I’m not saying this is right, but we have been moved more by what happened in France than what happened to the Russian airliner, even though both now seem to be terrorist attacks and resulting in great loss of life. I was talking to the kids today that probably some of you have done it on your Facebook site. You have turned your profile picture into a blue, red and white striped image as people have done in solidarity. We didn’t do that with the Russian jet liner. Did you notice that? I didn’t. I haven’t done it for this one either, but that’s another story. But they’re both terrorist attacks.
Now what’s happened with France highlights the larger problem of terrorism and the world condition in the world stage right now. Just looking at it from a strictly political nation versus nation situation, with ISIS and these terrorist groups, what is taking place is they do not fear us. They don’t fear France, they don’t fear Russia, and they certainly do not fear the United States, to bring it down to us. And what is said in Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26 about our enemies fleeing from us, we are at a point now where they don’t flee. They don’t fear us. They don’t fear to shake their fist at us and to say, “We are coming to you America next.” There is no fear anymore.
Now, we could look at all of the reasons, politically. We could look at the President. We could look at the policies that are in place. We could look at the withdrawal of troops and all of that as a part of actual scene. But you know, something, for you and I as we read the Bible, and as we understand God’s promises, the real reason that all of this is taking place, for you and I should go far beyond a geopolitical analysis or something that you might hear on Fox News by Mr. Krauthammer or Mr. Will or any other news source, WorldNetDaily, Glenn Beck, or whoever you might listen to as your guru. You have gurus, I have gurus. The real reason is spiritual. It’s because of sin. It’s because of what Daniel says here. We have sinned, committed iniquity, rebelled and we have removed ourselves from Your judgments and Your precepts and this, Daniel says, is why Your wrath has come upon us. The Babylonians didn’t fear Judah any longer. They knew that they were a weak – morally, spiritually – people. Frankly, our enemies know that we are a weak moral people. From their point of view, weak spiritually as well, but from God’s point of view, we are very weak spiritually, and what is happening to us is because of spiritual sin, as Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26 brings out. Keep that in mind, regardless of what any pundit says on television or on the Internet.
Yeah, there are things that could be done and other reasons but God said, “I will remove certain things,” and there has been a lot removed. Daniel understood that. And as you sigh and cry for the sins of Joseph, as we pray Thy kingdom come, don’t pray for a resurgence of a surge militarily or the right leader or whatever necessarily. Pray for a repentance. It is indeed a time, a unique time for America and for the world in what God is doing in this world right now. There is a great deal of turmoil in the nations.
But Daniel gets really, he drills very, very deep to the bedrock of the problem. It is because of sin that our nation is not respected to the point of a fear to intervene because God in some ways has removed a part of the blessing and a part of the protection there. Not completely, but there should be enough there to warn us, of all people. And this is where Daniel is. He has learned about this. But he keeps God in the forefront. Verse 12, he goes on, he says, “He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem.”
What he is referring to is that Jerusalem and Israel were a people in covenant with God. As God said Himself, in some of His dialogue with Israel through the prophets, “What you are doing is unheard of among the nations, that you would leave Me, the true God, and what has been put upon you in the blessings.” And that’s what Daniel says here that what’s been done has never been done before under heaven. It was unique. Other nations came and went. The fall of Israel and ultimately Judah and Jerusalem was unique because of the relationship they had with God. And he understood that. “As it is written in the Law of Moses,” in verse 13, “all this disaster has come upon us; yet,” he said, “we have not made our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth.” He knew that the people had not done that. Who was doing it in this prayer? Daniel was. He was praying for his people. Now Daniel understood this about prayer and even about God’s Word and about God’s promises. Daniel understood that God’s Word was sure. His purpose would stand. He already revealed to Nebuchadnezzar and to Belshazzar that God was supreme. God’s will trumped that of the kings. By example, by teaching, and deeds, through the early chapters of Daniel, he had done that several times.
Daniel understood God was sovereign and that He was in charge. But he also knew what the individual responsibility was, and he knew the power of prayer. And he knew that if there was going to be…when this return according to the prophesy would happen and the rebuilding of Jerusalem and return of people to the land, if it was going to endure and if there was going to be a lesson learned, there had to be at the heart of that revival a prayer and a confession of sin, that the people had to come to that. If God was going to revive the people in that age and in that time…the lesson for us today is this. That is if God is going to revive us, and I pray that He does, that’s part of my prayer these days, is that God would give us, His people today a revival, a zeal, a passion of energy, of faith, of cooperation, of enduring faith, for the Word, for each other, and for the work of the gospel. We need a revival. If we are going to have ever that, we have got to have that, it’s got to be accompanied by prayer. And as Daniel tells us, for all of us, even as the church collectively, there should be the element of confession. To acknowledge sin wherever it might be. And to seek a repentance and then a zeal through the mercy of God to be instruments in His hand.
This is again at the heart of what moved Daniel to enter into this period and time of prayer. He goes on in verse 14. “Therefore the Lord has kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works which He does, though we have not obeyed His voice.” Again, he didn’t blame God. He didn’t get bitter toward God. He didn’t say, “Oh, God, this is not worth it.” And he didn’t worship a Babylonian god. He kept faith with his God, the true God, and he didn’t blame God. He knew that even as God punished the people, it was according to a just and merciful way that God works and deals. And that will take a whole other treatment but that’s important to understand. God is righteous in all the works which He does, even though we might sin. He is faithful in goodness and He is also faithful in His punishment.
Verse 15, “And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day – we have sinned, we have done wickedly! O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all those around us.”
And so he now begins to move into the heart of his petition. “Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate.” The sanctuary of the temple in Jerusalem had been desecrated and torn down. “O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.” We are called by God’s name today. It is the Church of God. We bear that name, and this prayer can give us an impetus to pray that God would listen, He would act, He would forgive us where we might need to be forgiven and help us to be revived and understand the times in which we live in this world. We can’t be divorced from that.
No matter how much we might want to or just plain ignore, we live in some very momentous times in world history. And we of all people should be seeking and striving to understand what it all means. As we understand prophesy, God’s overall plan and especially the prophesies that we see yet ahead of us, to where we seek to understand, “What does this mean?” So we are not moved by fear that in a sense gets us off of God’s righteousness and out of control but proper…we don’t want to be moved in that way. We want to have a confidence that God is in charge and that He is moving among the nations today. And these things happen as they do, but God’s purpose and God’s plan is moving along. It’s only then that we can make sense of it, understand it and have confidence, and do our job. And I do believe we have a job to do. And it is incumbent upon us to understand that. In that way, we then do justice to bear in the name of the Church of God, the people of God. This is what Daniel was coming down to, is he wanted to understand really a specific prophesy, what is called the 70 weeks prophesy.
His prayer ends here in verse 19, and you will see that it picks that then the remainder of chapter 9 does go into a detailed explanation of that prophesy. But it’s the prayer that we are looking at here tonight, and it’s the prayer that should give us some very personal instruction about our own lives when we may fall short as individuals and our collective life as a church, as a people as well, because this prayer of Daniel is both personal and it’s collective. It’s personal in that Daniel accepts responsibility. He said himself and he makes confession. But he also understands what has happened with his people and his nation, and he is laying it that all before God as well.
Now let me bring this down a little deeper into our own personal application so that we don’t neglect a lesson from this for ourselves. And that is our own need to confess our sins, as we may sin, as we might be caught, in whatever way we might be caught and have a sin brought to our attention. When I was four years old, it was my mom caught me with some candy that wasn’t mine. As we are adults, there are other times when we all sin in word, against each other perhaps, by things we might say either directly to someone or about someone, apart from them, or other deeds that indeed are sins and we know they are. And we may struggle with and they may last for quite some time in our life and they may even get to the point where they get a hold on our lives. And we struggle with them. How do we deal with that?
Well, overcoming is a big word in the Bible. We look at the…we went through the seven churches recently, all of the messages of the seven churches. To every one of those churches, they are encouraged to overcome. He who overcomes. Overcome. Overcoming, sometimes I thought, you know what, we need just a good… we just need to focus on overcoming sometimes. We struggle, we might identify some more and we know we’ve got certain issues, but when was the last time, we could point to having cleared ourselves of something and can say, “I have overcome that. It no longer trips me up. It no longer has a hold on my life. I have moved away from that. I have overcome that.” With what we have read here tonight, in one other verse that I would like for you to turn to over in 1 John 1. The first step, could I put it to us, the first step at overcoming I will say is to confess. To confess, to verbalize the sin. If we do that, I say that that can be the first step on the road to overcoming. But we have to confess.
Look at what John writes here in 1 John 5. And let’s look at verse 8 (1 John 1:8 1 John 1:8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
American King James Version×) he says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. And the truth is not in us.” If we say we have no sin, we are lying to ourselves, which in itself is a sin, just to ourselves, isn’t it? And it’s not true. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Confess. Daniel made a confession for the people. John says that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and He will cleanse us. That is a promise. But we have to confess. Now to confess means to verbalize it, literally. To say to our Father, and this is not a confession that we make here, he is not talking about confessing to another man. There may be a need to seek help with a minister, with a competent, qualified professional maybe with the problem that we are struggling with, and that’s where another individuals might be involved with this but ultimately, I think at the heart of it, the primary meaning here, the confession has to be to God. In prayer, “Father I have sinned. I have this problem. I am a… blank.” What is it at first step, the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous that they have to do? “Hi, I am — name. I am an alcoholic. I am an alcoholic.”
To get to that point may be a long road for an alcoholic or another addict, to admit, but it is a confession, and there is a therapy in doing that. It’s therapeutic, it’s helpful. And when we do that with God, this is what I am saying, now if we need to go to again to a minister get help, spiritual counseling or other counseling, that’s therapeutic too, and that may be a necessary step in the process. But ultimately, and the first and the primary step is with God. That’s what I am addressing here tonight. “Father, I have sinned. Father, I am Your servant, I am an — I have done – blank,” and to say it. Not to say, “Father, forgive my sins. I have sinned today. Forgive me of all my sins.” And we ask for a blanket pardon from God in a very quick, mumbled prayer and we know back in our minds that we have got what is that we need to overcome, say it. Say it to God. This, I think is the intent of the meaning here. And he says that we will be forgiven and cleansed. Now, we will have to overcome and we will have to take other steps and measures in our life to deal with it, to remove ourselves from sin and in an environment sometimes and other practices that will lead us to sin. But we can expect God’s forgiveness and we can expect His help in overcoming, but the first step is to confess it. It is to confess it.
And if we say, again in verse 10, “if we say, we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His Word is not in us.” So we have to talk that step, I am saying here. “My little children,” verse 1 of chapter 2, “these thing are right to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only but for the whole world.”
Now, really this verses is here in chapter 2, verses 1 and 2 go deeper into what is necessary steps, again additional necessary steps in overcoming, that I don’t have time to go into here tonight. But this goes deeper along the process. But we are just talking about the first step. I watched recently in one of these Ted talks, some of you are probably saying, “Yeah, you need to listen to more of them because they are only 20 minutes.” And I have gone more than 20 minutes tonight. But it was a journalist, a French journalist in this case, who was recounting being in Baghdad, back in ‘03, when the Second Gulf War ignited and being in a hotel room when one of these bombs hit it and created a large explosion, death, destruction. He survived it, being a floor or two above it. He had to go down to help get people out of it. And he is a journalist, he is not an army personnel, but he was describing the reaction upon him as he had to deal with the after-effects. He himself went through what they call PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, as many servicemen and women do in the war zone and come back and have to deal with the aftermath because of the trauma. You can have that prolonged stress, post-event stress, for many different situations. It’s very common obviously with our military personnel. The gentleman giving this talk basically had one point. He said that the therapy that he had to go through to get himself moved beyond it, to where he could cope involved talking about it, talking about it. And again, this is a well-known part of the therapy of dealing with PTSD, is they have to get the service person or the individual into even talking about it as a vital step in beginning to cope with it and move beyond it. Talk therapy. Talk about it to a competent individual that can help them work through the stress that is wracking their life at that point with a lot of anger, fear, and other results of that.
It’s the same thing. To verbalize it and to talk to another person about it. That can be hard for some people to do. But it’s the same principle here in terms of sin can be kind of like PTSD. It stresses our bodies physically and certainly spiritually, and creates trauma and distortion and a whole host of other problems that we perhaps don’t always recognize are the result of sin. To confess it to God, to talk to God about it, that’s a step, a first step in beginning to deal with spiritual sin. This is what I think we are being told here and this is why confession is good for the soul and why it so important.
Look at what we have learned here tonight. And looking at Daniel, we saw a man who understood the overall arching purpose and plan of God unfolding in his life. He was living through it and he knew that that was going to stand, that God’s purpose would endure, and yet he struggled for his people and he also struggled to understand exactly where he and his people fit in that timeline of God’s purpose and plan and why that particular left turn that they had taken into captivity had taken place. But he knew it was all up to God. But that did not deter him from praying as if it was all up to him. And therein lies a very important principle for us too actually. God’s purpose is going to stand. His plan is being brought to pass. It doesn’t deter us from praying in faith, regularly praying, and praying with a fervency and with an urgency for our own lives, for our times, to understand ourselves. And to be praying as Daniel did, setting aside a period of time and focused on prayer, on study, laboring in the Word. And seeking God’s understanding and even to the point of making confession.
Let me leave you with this thought as we take this lesson of a righteous man, one who… we didn’t read on here but well, let me just to back to Daniel 9. Let’s read what it says here about it. And there are so many great statements about Daniel and how his character was and the type of…he was a wise man and in whom the spirit of God was, it says, and that was recognized by the Gentiles, but here in Daniel 9 as the angel finally came and gave him the answer that he was looking for, he said, verse 21, “I was speaking and the man Gabriel, who I saw in the vision at the beginning, was caused to fly swiftly and reach me.” And Gabriel says, “O Daniel,” verse 22, “I have now come forth to give you skill to understand. At the beginning of your supplications the command went out.” You know, when Daniel’s lips started to move, the command went out. Probably because the lips were in sync with his already at that point. And the words were sincere, in other words. There was a sincerity. “And the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved.”
You are greatly beloved. For many reasons, God loved Daniel. I think one of them was that he had this love and this concern for his people among other things, but let’s just focus on that one and let me leave you with this thought, two thoughts. Pray for each other. Take a lesson from this and pray for each other that we might all draw closer to God, and brethren, pray for the church. Pray for the church as a whole, the collective, a collective supplication to God for the church. That God would forgive us where we need to be forgiven, that God would empower us and strengthen us where we lack that of ourselves, that God would give us boldness, give us confidence, build trust among ourselves, build, fitly frame and knit the joints of the body together and our part of the body where we are. Pray for the church as you pray for each other where you need to pray for each other, and we know of the needs of other individuals, but then pray for the collective church as a whole. The church is always in need of prayers. But never moreso than perhaps at this time, that we can be bound together to accomplish something in God’s hand at a critical moment in our nation and in the world.
Pray for the church. Pray God’s blessing and guidance upon us to guide us to a unity, to guide us to a trust, to guide us to a collective urgency and zeal for the mission that we have been given, and to not only accomplish the mission but the vision of the church so that we can then be effective instruments in God’s hands. Start with confession, both personally and collectively, because it’s good for the soul. It’s good for you in your life and mind, it’s good for the collective body, the spiritual body of the church of God.
That will conclude everything tonight. The next Bible study will be in two weeks, and Gary Petty will be here conducting that Bible study, the third in this series. And then after that, I think we will have a break until January, first of January, and we will begin in January with a series on the Ten Commandments. So gives you a little bit of an insight as we go forward here. So goodnight everyone and be safe going home.