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Lesson 6: Confession and Repentance: The Conditions of Revival *

Introduction: What is your attitude toward sin? Are you mostly concerned about what others will think about you? Or, are you concerned about how your sin impacts God? When I was growing up, my father would encourage good behavior by saying, "I don't care what other boys do, you are Don Cameron's sons!" If my father's point was that sin is a matter of personal reputation, that would not be good. But, if he was standing in the place of my Father in Heaven, then his advice was perfect. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more about sin, confession and repentance!

  1. Attitudes Towards Repentance

    1. Read Acts 5:12-13. Would you want to join a group that performed miracles? Would you like a miracle performed for you?

    2. Read Acts 5:14-16. These people want a miracle and they join with the believers! What does this suggest about the meaning of Acts 5:13? (Those looking for a miracle joined. The common people had respect for the Christians, so this must mean that those in positions of religious authority did not dare to appear to believe in Jesus.)

    3. Read Acts 5:17. What makes these top religious leaders jealous? (God is working through Jesus' followers. They are working miracles and converting people. The top religious leaders are jealous, and the leaders below them are afraid to displease their jealous leaders.)

    4. Read Acts 5:18-20. If you face persecution for your faith, what should give you confidence?

      1. In a clash between civil authority and God's authority, who wins? (Skip ahead and read Acts 5:40. The fact that God's authority wins, does not mean we always have a smooth road.)

    5. Read Acts 5:21-24. What should come of this? If this were a regular jailbreak, wouldn't these leaders know what to do? (Of course.)

      1. So, why is the future cloudy here? (This is no regular jailbreak.)

    6. Read Acts 5:25. Are the jailed apostles acting like fugitives? (Hardly.)

      1. Put yourself in the place of the highest religious leaders. They are jealous about God's work through the apostles. They see an obvious miracle showing that their jail cannot hold the apostles. How should they react?

    7. Read Acts 5:27-28. Consider the words of the High Priest. What are the religious leaders really worried about?

    8. Read Acts 5:29-30. Does Peter apologize for putting the religious leaders in a false light? (No! He makes the charge that the religious leaders fear - that they are guilty of Jesus' death. In addition, God opposes them because He raised Jesus to life.)

      1. Do you think the religious leaders believed what Peter said?

    9. Read Acts 5:31. We get to the heart of the matter. What did these religious leaders need? (They needed to repent and be forgiven of the "guilt of [Jesus'] blood" Acts 5:28.)

      1. What kept these religious leaders from repenting and being forgiven?

    10. Read Acts 5:32. Why does Peter need to refer to witnesses? (One of the issues for the religious leaders was whether they could believe what Peter said. They did not want to believe.)

      1. Why should they believe? (The witness of the apostles and the miracles done through the power of the Holy Spirit.)

      2. How are the apostles and the Holy Spirit witnesses? (Not only did the apostles see a risen Jesus, but consider the jailbreak and the fact that the apostles are out teaching again. The Holy Spirit not only powered the miracles that made the religious leaders jealous, but the Holy Spirit was working on the hearts of the religious leaders!)

    11. Read Acts 5:33. How is repentance going? Why were they furious? (Pride. They would have to confess that they were wrong - and murderers!)

  2. Jesus and Repentance

    1. Let's go back and re-read Acts 5:31. How does Jesus "give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel?" Let's look first at repentance. How does Jesus give us repentance?

      1. Re-read Acts 5:30. Are these also the charges against you? (Jesus died for our sins. Our sins killed Him. Just as a lamb was sacrificed for a person's sins in the Old Testament, so Jesus died for our sins. See Hebrews 9:6-14.)

      2. How does Jesus give us forgiveness? (Read Romans 8:1-4.)

      3. How do we receive repentance and forgiveness? Is it automatic? (Consider the religious leaders. They had the most powerful proof and they heard a clear message, yet they refused to repent or be forgiven. This shows repentance and forgiveness are gifts, but they are not automatically received.)

  3. Guilt and Repentance

    1. Read Psalms 51:3. Do you feel like King David?

      1. Should the religious leaders we discussed in Acts 5 have felt like King David?

    2. Last week when I was teaching, a member of the class asked whether guilt was good. What do you think?

    3. Let's look more deeply into King David's situation. Read Psalms 51:1-2. How does David react to his sin? (He wants to be free of sin.)

    4. Read Psalms 51:5-6. What is the human condition? (We are born into sin, but God wants us to aspire to be free from sin.)

    5. Read Psalms 51:7. How does David think he can be forgiven? (Completely. God washes him. God forgives him.)

    6. Read Psalms 51:8-12. Let's get back to the issue of whether guilt is good. What have we read so far that makes us think guilt is good? (King David says his sins are "always before me." That is guilt.)

      1. What does David want to be? (Completely clean! Then David says" "Restore to me the joy of your salvation." Good guilt brings us to confession and repentance. God's salvation brings joy!)

      2. What if you still feel guilt after repentance and confession? (Read Zechariah 3:1-2 and Revelation 12:10. Post-forgiveness accusation is the work of Satan. That guilt is bad.)

      3. Let's look at another text on this subject. Read 2 Corinthians 7:8-10. Would "guilt" be a good substitute for "sorrow" in this text? (Yes. Guilt brings sorrow. Good guilt "brings repentance that leads to salvation." Worldly sorrow, the guilt from Satan, "brings death.")

  4. Fake Repentance

    1. Read Psalms 51:4. I skipped over this text when we were looking at King David's guilt and repentance. The context here is David's adultery with Bathsheba. David caused the death of her husband, Uriah, to cover-up his sin. How can David say that he sinned "only" against God?

    2. Read Job 1:8-11. How does our sin impact God?

    3. If we combine David's statement about sin being "against" God, and combine it with God's statements about Job, what should we conclude about our personal sins and true repentance?

      1. To help put this into focus, let's discuss your favorite sin. If no one would ever know about it, would you continue to do it? (This helps us understand true repentance. Our sins are against God. God died for our sins. God is a holy God. God is embarrassed by our sins because sin is rebellion against Him. If we are focused on what our sin means to God, rather than what it means to us, we have a picture of true repentance.)

    4. Read Hebrews 12:4-6. Most of the time our sins do not remain secret. What does our reaction to the results of our sin say about the genuine nature of our repentance? (The text says "don't ignore discipline and don't become discouraged by it." Embrace it as a lesson from the God who loves you!)

    5. Read Psalms 32:1-2. What comes from genuine confession and repentance? (God forgives us and covers our sins. We are blessed by God's forgiveness.)

    6. Friend, the Jewish religious leaders were concerned about how their sin would impact them, not about whether Peter and the apostles were telling the truth about them killing God and impeding His work. Will you commit today to look at sin in a new way? To look at sin as a break in your relationship with the God who died for you, to look at it as a barrier to the true joy of forgiveness?

  5. Next week: Unity: The Bond of Revival.
* Copr. 2013, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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