Friday, November 8, 2013

Hosea 14: Confession Leads to Restoration


Hos 14:1-8 "Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God.Your sins have been your downfall! Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to him: "Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips.  Assyria cannot save us; we will not mount war-horses.We will never again say 'Our gods' to what our own hands have made, for in you the fatherless find compassion." 
"I will heal their waywardness and love them freely,for my anger has turned away from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily. Like a cedar of Lebanon he will send down his roots;  his young shoots will grow. His splendor will be like an olive tree, his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon.  Men will dwell again in his shade. He will flourish like the grain. He will blossom like a vine, and his fame will be like the wine from Lebanon. O Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols? I will answer him and care for him. I am like a green pine tree; your fruitfulness comes from me." 

Hosea in this final chapter provides us the path to restoration to fellowship with God and fruitfulness. There are three steps in this process.
  • Acknowledge our Sins ("Your sins have been your downfall!"):  The first step is to acknowledge we have sinned. But that presumes we know the law, for where there is no law, there is no transgression. If a church does not explicitly teach Christ's commands to the congregation as found in the four Gospels, they would not know what when they have transgressed His law (sin). This ignorance would lead to their spiritual downfall. Sin is whatever that is inconsistent with Christ and His commands and it grieves the Holy Spirit, producing carnal fruit. In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul gives us a list of the acts and attitudes that will grieve the Holy Spirit: "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." Paul warns the Galatians believers that if they continue in such conduct, they will not inherit the kingdom of God for such lifestyle is contrary to the character of Christ.
  • Confess our Sins (Say to him:"Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously"): Confession of sins is saying to God, "Forgive us our sins." Other versions translate this verse as: "Take away all iniquity" (ESV, NKJV), "Completely forgive our iniquity" (NET), The NLT translates Hos 14:2 as "Bring your confessions, and return to the Lord. Say to him, 'Forgive all our sins and graciously receive us'." Implied in these different versions is the need to say to God, "forgive our sins" and then the blessing of our sins being take away completely. This is consistent with 1 John 1:9 which says, "If we confess (say with words) our sin, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." When we sin, we experience guilt and shame because we have grieved the Holy Spirit. The only way we can be cleansed from the stains of sins is to acknowledge we have sinned and ask for forgiveness.
  • Give Praise to God ("that we may offer the fruits of our lips"): It's only after our guilt and shame have been removed by the cleansing of the Blood that we are in a position to offer the positive confession--which is the "fruits of our lips". Heb 13:15 tells us that this fruit of our lips is the sacrifice of praise: "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise — the fruit of lips that confess his name." In other words, we can only confess Christ's name and claim His righteousness after we have confessed our sins. We cannot go from sin to praise by skipping the steps of confession of sin.
When we have done all these three steps, we will experience God's fellowship and favour again: "I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily. Like a cedar of Lebanon he will send down his roots; his young shoots will grow. His splendor will be like an olive tree, his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon. Men will dwell again in his shade. He will flourish like the grain. He will blossom like a vine, and his fame will be like the wine from Lebanon."

The above three simple steps were used by Evan Roberts to bring about the Welsh revival and restore churches and turn many to Christ. So, did John Sung in his days of ministry in South East-Asia, calling for open confession of sins and repentance.

Sin is serious. We should not soft-pedal it in the name of representing a gracious and loving God. It's precisely because God is gracious that we call God's people to repentance by asking them to openly acknowledge and confess their sins and not delude themselves that they have no sins.

Father, thank You the way of restoration is always open to us through repentance and confession of our sins. May You revive Your people and deliver them from false hopes. Amen.

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