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Confession, Repentance and Restoration

The following is taken from Revival Fires and Awakenings by Mathew Backholer and is used by permission

If we want to see revival, then each of us needs to be revived. But before we can be revived we need to repent of all known sin and deal with the past, because ‘he who covers his sin will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes will find mercy’ (Proverbs 28:13).

It is the job of the Holy Spirit to bring conviction of sin to our lives, but our confession is our response to it. Once we have repented of specific sins (Leviticus 5:5), then we can express outwardly what has been revealed inwardly – the forgiveness and cleansing in Christ Jesus (Isaiah 1:18 and 1 John 1:9).

We have all sinned against God by breaking His laws, and sinned against each other by personal sin or personal failure by our wrong actions, reactions, attitudes or decisions that we have made. We may have also sinned against our own body by being sexually immoral, see 1 Corinthians 6:18. Specific sins need to be specifically repented of and confessed by name, ‘when he is guilty in any of these matters, that he shall confess that he has sinned in that thing’ (Leviticus 5:5). We cannot generalise sin and pray, “Lord forgive me for all I have done wrong” or deny sin and pray, “Lord if I have done anything wrong, please forgive me” for all have sinned, and if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves (Romans 3:23 and 1 John 1:8). We must repent of specific sins and pray, “Lord please forgive me for being lustful, for stealing, for lying, for being bitter, for being critical, for being angry" etc. If we are not sure about certain situations (or habits) whether we have sinned or not, then we can pray the prayer of the psalmist, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me” (Psalm 139:23-2), AV.

Within the Christian Church there is a place for private confession to another brother or sister whom we have wronged (Matthew 5:23-24 and 1 John 1:3-7) and at times, a place for public confession so that our brothers or sisters can pray for us to be healed and delivered (Mark 1:4-5 and James 5:16). If we have sincerely confessed our sin before God then we have received His forgiveness; therefore there is no reason to keep the confession alive because God has forgiven and forgotten (Psalm 103:12 and Micah 7:19). The apostle Paul was the chief of sinners but did not retell the events. Too often those who give testimony, glory more on the past than in God’s saving grace. If we need to publicly confess sin, we must specify the sin, but not necessarily go into the details of it. The body of Christ does not need to hear the details of a lurid fantasy (or how you cheated in an exam); thus introducing thoughts to the listeners which have not previously been there. To say that we have struggled with lust is adequate. If we are married, we should also ask ourselves what will be the response of our spouse if we decided to publicly confess the sin of adultery without their prior knowledge. With some sins and in certain situations it is not appropriate to confess publicly only to cause another to sin because of what we have confessed, (you confess adultery, unbeknown to your spouse, who is now publicly broken-hearted, humiliated and grieved and they may want to divorce or kill you there and then!) though during times of revival lurid sins are frequently confessed, especially adultery, theft and murder (of the heart and flesh) under the spotlight and convicting illumination of the Holy Spirit.

J. Edwin Orr wrote: ‘If you sin secretly, confess secretly, admitting publicly that you need the victory, but keeping the details to yourself. If you sin openly, confess openly to remove stumbling-blocks from those whom you have hindered. If you have sinned spiritually (prayerlessness, lovelessness, and unbelief as well as their offspring, criticism, etc.) then confess to the church that you have been a hindrance. The devil is ever ready to take advantage of distress of heart, but the Holy Spirit can give the last word in wisdom.’

Those of us who are in Christian leadership are prone to make decisions, which though appeared correct at the time, in hindsight we realise we have not made the wisest of choices, which has since alienated and hurt many from within the congregation. We all make mistakes and we can all learn from them, but we still have to face up to our responsibilities, set an example to humble ourselves, apologise and make amends or restitution where appropriate. Revival church history records that if the leadership within a church (mission compound or Bible College etc.) are not right with God or with other people, especially members from the congregation or community, then they are a big hindrance to revival and will entirely block or plug up the channels of Divine blessing.

In dealing with an offended party, the longer we delay our responsibility and put it off, the harder it will be. This was vividly illustrated when Jacob returned to be reconciled to his brother Esau whom he had wronged nearly two decades previously. Jacob truly feared for his life, but when Esau saw him, they embraced and wept (Genesis 32:3-12 and Genesis 33:1-4). As long as we fulfill our responsibility and try to be reconciled to our brother or sister then we cannot be held responsible for their decision if they choose to respond in a negative manner.

If we are truly sorry for slanderously spreading malicious rumours about another, then it is our responsibility upon repenting of the sins, to ask forgiveness to the one we have wronged and to counteract our previous statements to those we have gossiped to. As a general rule, the circle of apology only needs to extend to those within the circle of offence.

Used by permission from Revival Fires and Awakenings by Mathew Backholer

  • ‘He who covers his sin will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes will find mercy’ (Proverbs 28:13).
  • ‘If My people who 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, and will forgive their sin and heal their land’ (2 Chronicles 7:14).

    Recommended Books:
    Holy Spirit Power
    How Christianity Made the Modern World
    Samuel Rees Howells: A Life of Intercession
    Revival Fires and Awakenings: Thirty-Six Visitations of the Holy Spirit
    Global Revival: Worldwide Outpourings - Forty-Three Visitations of the Holy Spirit
    Revival Fire - 150 Years of Revivals: Spiritual Awakenings and Moves of the Holy Spirit
    Samuel, Son and Successor of Rees Howells: Director of the Bible College of Wales
    Understanding Revival and Addressing the Issues it Provokes
    The Ark of the Covenant: Investigating the Ten Leading Claims
    Heaven - A Journey to Paradise and the Heavenly City
    Revival Answers, True and False Revivals
    The Exodus Evidence: The Bible’s Exodus

    Recommended Revival DVD:
    Great Christian Revivals

    Thus says the Lord: “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your descendants and My blessing on your offspring” (Isaiah 44:3).

  • Overview of Revival
  • What is Christian revival?
  • Why we need Revival

  • The Link Between Missions and Revival
  • Revival – The Divine-human Partnership

  • Revival Scriptures
  • Revival Scriptures - Conditions

  • Holiness and Revival
  • How can we see Revival?
  • Why Revival Will Always Be Controversial

  • The Next Big Thing
  • Revival Prophecies
  • It’s Time For Revival!
  • Prophecies for the United Kingdom
  • Visions of Revival for the UK, Europe and Beyond

  • Great Christian Revivals
  • ByFaith TV Revival Clips
  • Revivalist Rees Howells
  • Talking Revival on Live TV

  • Revival Now - Revival related links

    ‘O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, do it for Your name’s sake; for our backslidings are many, we have sinned against You’ (Jeremiah 14:7).