Growth is the default behavior of the body of Christ. This does not necessarily mean that if a church body shrinks numerically that it is under divine judgement, but the start of every revival or growth of the body of Christ has begun with an understanding of the sin that may affect the body, confession of that sin, and a renewed desire to follow Christ to the exclusion of all others.
In Daniel 9, Daniel the prophet and those with him had not forsaken God, they were steadfast and true to the point of seeing themselves saved from the fiery furnace and the mouths of lions, yet we still find that Daniel prays for himself and his people as if they are the gravest of sinners. He begs the Lord that for His own glory that He would save His people and return them to Judah—even though he was well aware that God had promised to do just that.
In Ezra 9 and 10, there were a relatively small number of people that had intermarried with the people of the land, and Ezra knew this was the reason that there was difficulty in the land. He sought out the Lord’s advice, and had them separate from their wives and children—no small thing.
Throughout the Old Testament and in the book of Acts and Revelation we see that the children of Israel and the churches only see the growth that God can provide when sin has been confessed and repentance is sought. While leadership can plead with the Lord, much like Job pleaded for his children, we will only see growth spiritually or numerically when we realize how far we are from what we need to be in God.
The first step in change needs to be a thorough analysis and identification of where we fall short as a people and as a church in regard to the commandments of God. This needs to be done with leadership as well as all believers in the body of Christ. Certainly, we are not called to go and point out other people’s sin, we need to take care of our own, but there are group sins that we should address.
- We are guilty of how we place our personal priorities.
- We live in a society that glorifies coveting, pride and vanity
- I’m sure there are more that could be named
Confession is necessary, if not corporately then at least by the leadership before we can actually begin the work of determining God’s will. There are many verses that talk about God’s unwillingness to work with those with unconfessed sin. David said that if he regards iniquity in his heart, God wouldn’t hear him. James tells us that we need to be right with our spouse in order for God to hear our prayers.
Bottom line, confession comes first.