By Winkie Pratney
Billy Sunday once said - "Some people take so many pills their joints look like ball bearings."
It's a sick, sick world.
With such a lot of medical problems around, it is always a good idea to get a physical check-up at least a couple of times a year.
These physical check-ups cost a little time and a little more inconvenience...
But if the beginnings of a dangerous illness are discovered, the cost is well worth it.
Now, something is very wrong with the world.
The Christian is supposed to have the answer to the moral plague sweeping the nations.
But something is very wrong with the average Christian church.
There is supposed to be love, but there is envying, strife and division.
There is supposed to be holiness, but there is instead often downright ungodliness.
There is supposed to be power, but there is largely only weakness and spiritual sickliness.
We are supposed to have revival, but on the whole we have still not seen any great awakening.
"My brethren, these things ought not to be."
What is wrong with the church must be the sum total of what is wrong with each individual Christian.
If men can have medical check-ups for their bodies, why shouldn't there be spiritual checkups to examine the state of our souls?
If a physician can prescribe pills for bodily ailments, does not the Master Physician have one for the diseased soul?
And of course, He does - the "Gos-pill"...which means of course, "Good News".
However, before we can be given the Good News
We should thoroughly understand the Bad News....
Before a cure can be accepted and applied, there must be diagnosis and verdict.
To do this, some sort of spiritual check-up is needed for us all.
Which is precisely what this little sheet is all about.
One caution - like any check-up, this is going to cost you time and inconvenience.
However, unlike the physical check-up it may also hurt somewhat.
Of course, a sore spot shows infection present.
When you go through this remember it is designed to expose, and that exposure might hurt! Be assured however, that a little pain now may save an awful lot of trouble later. If it is any consolation before you begin, this check-up is absolutely free.
It will only cost you, of course, on diagnosis, your sin.
Of all things, you can afford to lose that, can't you?
Nobody in their right mind wants to keep a killer cancer.
To take this spiritual check-up you will need only pencil, paper, some time - and complete honesty. Deep breath -
Take A Seat
CASE HISTORY - For the next hour or so, let the Holy Spirit turn His searchlight on your spiritual life. Let Him probe, X-ray and test your soul! And let Him start by opening the closets of your memory.
Memory is highly efficient at remembering wrong. Although it easily forgets merely unpleasant or worthless things, it NEVER forgets unrighted SIN. Much mental illness today can be traced to GUILT never wiped from the mind by the twin tools of confession and restoring -- and receiving forgiveness. Shock, drugs and other medical and psychiatric treatment may try to take guilt memories from the mind, but God's method is the only fully effective one - FACE each wrong with its full load of guilt, admit it to God and others who are involved AS wrong, then ask and receive healing forgiveness. (Ps 32:1-5; I Jn. 1:5-9)
Use the following three lists as check-up charts to examine your life before the Lord. Take each one slowly and carefully. Check each area that is a "sore spot" and on your own paper write out what you will have to do to get it right. Confess them to the Lord one by one as He shows you them. When you have finished, RE-READ your list again, and add any others that come to mind. Don't give in to the temptation to pass quickly over any area that hurts. Take your courage in your bare hands; FACE your sin. This first part will be painful. Let God furrow your heart and break up all the hardness that has formed from unconfessed sin. If tears begin to come, let them. "Godly sorrow works repentance" and tears may soften your heart for God to work with it. (2 Cor. &:10; Ps. 38:18; 34:6, 18: 51:17; Eccles. 7:3; Ps. 147:3; Ezek. 34:16; Luke 4:18)
Stealing - Can you remember taking money for property that was not yours? Did you steal from neighbors, relatives, shops or stores, school or home? (Ex. 20:15; Eph. 4:28)
Cheating - Did you get anything from anyone unfairly? Does someone know or suspect that you cheated to pass an important test? did you rob someone of their fair share of praise or pay for a job? (Jas. 5:1-4; Mal. 3:5; Deut. 24:14-15; Jer. 22:13; Job 31:13)
Lying - "Any designed form of deception for selfish reasons". If you design to make an impression contrary to the naked truth, you have lied. Have you been deceitful? (Rev. 21:8)
Slander - Speaking evil of someone. You do not have to lie to slander. Have you talked about someone behind their back in a way you would not be willing to before their face? Malicious gossip - telling the truth with intent to hurt or injure is slander. Are you guilty of backbiting or criticism? (Matt. 7:1-5; I Cor. 5:12; Col.3:8; Matt. 5:21-24)
Immorality - Are you guilty of stirring up desires that you could not righteously feed? In outings with the opposite sex have you failed to keep your body and mind clean and pure, and bartered your integrity for pleasure? (Matt. 5:28; Job 31:1; 2 Pet.2:14; I Cor. 6;18)
Censoriousness - Have you spoken about others without love? Did you judge, think or say the worst thing about a person in a situation you knew? (Jn. 7:24; I Cor.4:1-7; Gal. 6:1)
Envy - Behind talk of other's failures and faults usually lurks envy. did you gossip and boast to exalt yourself at another's expense? does it hurt to hear certain people praised? If you have nursed this spirit of Hell, repent DEEPLY. (Job 5:2; Prov. 14:30; 27:4; Gal 5:25)
Pride - Pretending in thought or life to be more or less than you really ARE. Do you pay more attention to your looks than your soul? Is there a trouble-stirring spirit in your life? These are the signs of pride. (Prov. 16:5; 12, 18: 21:4; 29:23; Tit.3:9; I Cor. 1:26-31; 1 Pt. 5:1)
Ingratitude - How many times have others gone out of their way for you, perhaps really sacrificed to help you - and you took this all for granted? (2Tim.3:2; Mal. 3:8-11)
Anger - Have you been bad-tampered? Did you shrug off self-control and lose patience or gentleness with someone? (Prov. 14:29; 15:8; 21:9; 22:24; Eccl. 7:9; Eph. 4:26; Col. 3:8)
Cursing - Have you used gutter language? Swearing has no place in the life of a child of God. Never use exclamations beginning with "G", "J", or "C"; they are usually substitutes for curses against God. Have you failed to guard your speech? (Deut. 5:11; Matt. 5:33 - 37)
Levity - "Needless frivolity, silly talk - talking and acting like a moron". Jests that tend to undermine the sacred and precious standards of life; "Bible" jokes that make light of the Holy Word of God; unprofitable, empty and often stupid foolishness achieves nothing but a dangerous devaluation of the Christian's word. Real humor is a gift of God, and will always edify or prepare the way for the Holy Spirit; foolish levity is sin. (Ecc.5:3; Prov. 24:19; Eph. 5:4)
Hardness - Did you fight back, murmur or return evil for evil? Was your response to trial un-Christlike when you were wronged or hurt by someone? (Phil 2:14; I Cor. 10:10)
Habits - Have you continually over-indulged natural appetites until they have grown far beyond normal? Are you a slave to food, drink or stimulants? (Phil. 3:19; Prov. 23:21; I Cor. 6:19)
Half-heartedness - Can you remember times when you deliberately shirked your full share of responsibility? Did you skip times of secret or public prayer to please yourself when you should have been meeting with God? Have you been flippant and light with Him? (Prov. 19:15; 21:5; 24:11-12; Matt 25:1-13; 25:14-30; I Thess. 5:6; Jas. 4:13-17)
Hindrance - Have you destroyed another's confidence in you by needlessly taking up their time? Have you prevented them from doing God's work for yourself? (Eph. 5:16)
Hypocrisy- Did the life you lived before some people make all you said of Christ and His gospel a lie? Have you said one thing and done another? Were others turned from God by your life that declared to them your hypocrisy? (Matt. 6:5-6; 7:3-5; 23:28; Rev. 3:15-16)
Broken Vows - Is there a vow you made to God that you have not kept? Did you promise Him something that you have since forgotten or gone back upon ? If it was unwise, you had better ask forgiveness and release; He expects you to KEEP voluntary vows! (Eccl. 5:1-6)
If the Holy Spirit shows us sin, we must go back to the place where the Lord first met us. It is the cross again. We see the Lord Jesus once crucified - for that sin - bearing our penalty.
A line of blood trickles down from its splintered base. The sight should shock and grieve us; we see the awfulness of God's judgment. This is not the law, representing God armed with holy wrath and determined to punish the sinner without hope or help, but LOVE demonstrated in the infinite cost and sacrifice God is willing to go to in order to save us from sin. It is the most terribly beautiful picture of the Gospel, showing God's hatred for sin and heartbreak over mans' selfishness. Our sin nails Him to the cross all over again. We tear open His wounds and make His redemption a mockery. Well might "heaven put on the robes of mourning and Hell hold a jubilee." All God's care and love - and DARE we still sin?
Walk out into the light of reality. Drop your self-deceit and face this sin for what it really is. Turn from it, from your heart. Take sides with God against it- purpose in your heart NEVER to go back into that sin again.
"Oh God, You know my foolishness, and my sin is not hid from You...for Your Name's said, pardon my iniquity, for it is great...If you, Lord, would mark iniquities, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared." (Ps. 69:5; 25:11; 130:3-4)
Will you do this now? Will you go to your gracious and loving Father as a little child and humbly ask His forgiveness?
"If we confess our sins, He is FAITHFUL and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."(I Jn. 1:9) The LORD is merciful and gracious...He has not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities; For as the heaven is above the earth, so great is His mercy towards them that fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us." (Ps. 103:12)
Confession is humbling yourself and admitting your wrong. Restitution is the willingness to pay back or restore wherever possible. If you are now forgiven before the Lord, are you ready to ask Him for the courage to confess and restore to others you have wronged? Your conscience must be clean before both God AND man if you want to know true freedom. You cannot stand for God with a dirty past in others eyes; memories of failure in their eyes will drive you deeper into bondage each time you remember them; when you have not asked their forgiveness, your guilt will kill your faith and rob you of direction and purpose. You will not, of course, have to confess every sin to everyone; just the sins committed against the ones you know you have wronged. The RULE: The circle of CONFESSION should only go as far as the circle of COMMITTAL. Those sins against God alone you have left with His loving forgetfulness (Ps. 103:8-13; Is. 4325; Jer. 3134) those against God and man must be put right with BOTH God and the person(s) wronged.
Restitution should only go as far as the person can humanly repay. You will NEVER be able to undo all your wrong, but God expects you to do all in your power to restore what which you have taken from others; no more and certainly no less. God asks of you the WILLINGNESS, if need be, to go to a hundred people to restore a relationship. True, total repentance is to do that which is right up to the full limit of our ability. It concerns only that which is KNOWN and RECOGNIZED to be sin by the repentant one. Often those who see your sincerity may make exceptions to any claims they have to restitution, but you will have to trust your case to the hands of God Who does all things well.
Getting Right With Others
NAME the BASIC SIN! You can never really right the RESULTS of your sin; no-one can really forgive you for these. However you can always (and MUST!) right the sin ITSELF, by NAMING IT and asking forgiveness for it. Confess the sin that caused your words or actions; God will show you what it is. What was your REAL wrong? Write it down so you can see it. Are you sure that was what it was?
Make sure the WAY you ask is right. Such half-hearted "confessions" as these show false or incomplete repentance and are usually worse than useless:
"I'm sorry - but it wasn't all my fault!"
Forgive me - IF I have wronged you..."
"I was wrong - but SO WERE YOU!"
"Alright - I'm sorry" or "I apologize...
Full blame must be taken; the sin must be NAMED; pride must be crucified.
Do you know the basic sin you must get right?
Have you thought through what you are to say?
Is the time convenient for the other person?
Can you be alone when you see this person?
Do you have a truly repentant attitude? If you have trouble getting the proper feelings, think of all the hurt and loss your sin has caused. What did your sin cost Christ? (read Lk.22:39-44; Jn. 15:8-14). the Holy spirit convicts by recalling from your memory in DETAIL all the results of your wrong. Go over your sin in detail, never in general. As you think deeply about the effect of your sin, feelings will come equal to your guilt.
Are They in a good mood to forgive? If they get angry when you arrive, wait quietly in a repentant manner until their temper is under control. Then acknowledge your sin and ask forgiveness. Pray before you go for help. (Prov. 22:24; Matt. 5:43-48) Don't use words taking the blame off yourself; don't involve others who may have also sinned; don't try to witness as well, unless specifically asked why you are getting this thing right; don't underestimate your guilt or their hurt and don't wait too long to go and get it right!
The elements of these three sentences MUST be in any truly effective confession:
God has convicted me of something I did (have been doing) against you..."
"I've been wrong in....(NAME the basic sin - being envious, proud, stubborn etc.)*
"I know I've wronged you in this, and I want to ask you - will you forgive me?"
*(The only exception to this is a moral offense; use "not setting you a decent standard")
EXCUSES from pride: When it comes to getting right with others, our minds supply many "reason" why we need not do what we know we MUST do. Be BRUTALLY HONEST with yourself. Deal with each AS AN EXCUSE. Determine to do what is right. It's your life!
When you have gone through your list as thoroughly as if you were about to meet God before the throne of Judgment and determined to get right everything you can, you may burn your list and leave your sins forgiven and forgotten for good! Wrongs may not be wiped out completely from your mind, but they can be exchanged for memories of the joy of forgiveness! Should Satan try to recall a dark past shadow, you will be able to think instead of the bright memory of confession and forgiveness. The word of pardon from those who accept our confession will put wings on our hearts and move us mightily to praise God for His forgiveness.
Many millions are jailed in their own guilt this very day in your world, not knowing what to do or who to turn to. To some, the last road of suicide seems the only possible escape. Minds are snapping from the terrible load of guilt of a filthy past. It is up to you now to put into practice what you know must be done. Your testimony will be a ray of hope to any you come in contact with. Don't just READ this; in HIS Name, go and DO IT!