Summary: Part of our weekly worship includes the corporate confession of our sins. This message considers the benefits of confession and the components of proper confession.
1. Illustration of person who felt need to confess terrible sin. (see illustrations at end).
1. Confessing sin to pastor or priest - isn’t that a Roman Catholic thing? Didn’t that go out with the Reformation? Perhaps but the felt need we have to confess our sins is great.
2. We might say that we need not confess to a priest but to God Himself is, there is a need to confess our sins together and to one another.
3. That is why each week we have the confession of our sins in our worship service. As we continue to look at elements of our worship service we consider the confession of our sins.
4. We first look at another time when the people of God got together to confess their sins and see what we can learn from them.
a. The people of Israel had been exiled to Babylon, but the Babylonians were defeated by the Persians and King Cyrus decreed that they were to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple.
b. A few years after the temple was finished, Ezra came to Jerusalem. He was a priest in the line of Aaron and a teacher well versed in the law of Moses. He had been assigned to administer justice by the king of Persia.
c. Some of the leaders came to Era to tell them that many of the people, including priests and Levites had broken a command of God by intermarrying with women from the neighbouring people. (9:1-2)
5. Notice how godly leadership reacts to the sin of the people.
a. Era was appalled, for their guilt was great.
b. It was because of their sin that they had been sent out captive to Babylon. ( 9:7) but He had been gracious to return them to their land. (9:8-10) God had judges his people on earth because of sin so they
would turn to Him. ( see how this principle is stated in 2Chr 6:24-26.
c. I was like a parent punishing child for bad behaviour, then being gracious and then child going out and doing same thing.
d. Our situation is similar. We know that we have sinned against God and that because of our sin, we were separated from God, exiled from Him. In His mercy and grace He brought us back to Him through Christ dying for us and the Holy Spirit putting faith in our hearts. And yet, what do we do? What have you and I done in past week - sinned even though we know what sin does to us.
6. Era takes responsibility for the sins of His people.
a. The people had sinned and he was their leader.
b. Their sin made him fall before God in shame.
c. As pastor, as elders, do we have shame for sin of our people? Do we need to be more distressed over our sin and guilt?
d. Ezra takes responsibility for sin - not their sin but our sin.(9:6)
7. The people see Ezra’s intensity of sorrow and join with Him in confessing. (10:1-2)
a. Important to pray confession each week in worship for we share in our guilt. There is a corporate nature of sin toward each other and toward God
b. By sharing in sin we all humble selves together, not pointing at others or look down them. A church needs to humble itself together before God.
c. See illustration (2. below) of small door of church of nativity
d. Rather than complain about problems we have, we are thankful because we do not deserve what we have. We worship with more thankfulness.
8. Their repentance was intense and genuine.
a. The people saw E praying and confessing and weeping and they also wept bitterly. (10:1).
b. Our confession not to be a few quick words just to make things right with God. Not a shallow "sorry". It should represent true repentance.
c. Heidelberg Catechism says we are to be genuinely sorry for our sin - are we? Do we recognize how our sin offends God’s holiness? If not do we really appreciate his grace?
d. Worship is to represent our lives and how we live it. If confession not genuine, if sin not come to mind, are we truly repentant and saved?
9. They sought to make things right.
a. The sin that they committed had been to marry women from neighbouring nations and Era calls the people to make it right (10:11) - to divorce their wives.
b. Is this a teaching for us to divorce unbelieving spouses? No. We are not to be unequally yoked by marrying unbelievers, but in 1Cor 7 we are told not to divorce them.
c. Point here is one thing to ask forgiveness from God but as we do, as sin comes to mind we must seek to correct the wrong we have done. What do you have to correct and make right - words said, something forgotten, broken promise?