I needed this reminder today and wanted to share it with you as well.
A few years ago, a dear, Godly, pastor's-wife friend of mine recommended some books to me that have had a tremendous impact on my life: Returning to Holiness and How to Develop a Powerful Prayer Life, both written by Dr. Gregory Frizzell. Both of these books have forever changed the way I pray, but I keep "returning" to Returning to Holiness. He states that "...in today's highly programmed church, deep spiritual cleansing is either ignored entirely or quickly glossed over in a surface manner. As a result, God's people are largely unaware of the subtle, unconfessed sins that daily quench Christ's full power in their lives."
I have to admit, before I read the book I really didn't think much about daily confessing my sin. As I would pray, certain "biggies" would cross my mind and I'd ask God's help to change, but I was not inviting God to do a systematic, thorough search of my heart and mind. Of course, truth be told, that doesn't sound like much fun, does it? Laying it all out there before Him, discussing all of the ways I fall short... aren't I under grace anyway? Why dwell on the negative? So, for most of my Christ-following years, I ignored the issue of sin as it pertains to my daily walk.
Dr. Frizzell points out, however, that "Even elaborate prayer strategies will have very limited power without an accompanying move of profound repentance. According to Scripture, only cleansed hearts have mighty power with God (Hosea 10:12, Psalms 66:18, James 5:16)." This doesn't point to some daunting, legalistic exercise, however. God is calling us to a loving relationship with Him! Frizzell continues, "Genuine holiness is not about morbid introspection, but about miraculous biblical cleansing that turns us into joyful Christians, dynamic soul winners and mountain-moving intercessors."
He categorizes the sin in our lives into 7 basic categories:
- Sins of Thought- sin begins in the heart and mind
- Sins of Attitude- God is deeply focused on the attitude of our hearts
- Sins of Speech- Oh, what an impact our words have!
- Sins of Relationships- people we have hurt, grudges we still hold, improper relationships
- Sins of Commission- any act of breaking God's law or doing something God forbids
- Sins of Omission- not doing what we know we should
- Sins of Self-rule and self-reliance- living according to our desires or trying to do things in our own strength
As I began to examine all of those areas in my life, praying through the scriptures that pertain to each one, I began to sense a powerful change. (I actually wore my book out and had to get it hole-punched to put in a binder!) I have found that bringing all my "stuff" before God is not some negative, awful experience to be avoided. You know why? Because He promises forgiveness! (1 John 1:9) What a release! Talk about an effective weight-loss program! After time in prayer of this nature, I get up... lighter!
After a period of incorporating daily, personal confession and cleansing into my prayer life I was still having trouble remembering the categories. Not to be legalistic, but to be thorough. One day I was kneeling in prayer and I glanced down at my hands, which I held open in front of me. I thought of how I was bringing all of my "junk" to Him, laying it down at the foot of the cross. Then I thought of His hands, and they were nailed to that cross for my transgressions. I rearranged the letters of the categories and made a little sketch in my prayer journal of a hand, spelling out the word SCARS- a letter on each finger. This visual image has really helped me remember:
- Commission and Omission
- Attitude and Thought
- Self-rule and Self-reliance
Whatever sins I lay before Him, He bears the scars for them. "But He was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought our peace was on Him; and by His wounds we are healed." Isaiah 53:5 Praise You, Lord!
Confession is not about condemnation, it's about victory.It's about being conformed to Christ's image. It's about breaking strongholds. It's about freedom. It's about fellowship with our Heavenly Father. We are invited to "boldly" come before the throne of grace because of what Christ has done for us, "that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16 I am His dearly-loved child. He wants me to walk in holiness and righteousness before Him. He has already done the work. I simply need to come... not to "get blessed" but because I love Him.
Oh, how I continue seek unbroken fellowship with Him, and how I earnestly pray that for you as well.
"If My people which are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins, and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14