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For Christians Only: A Personal Checklist
Review an edited version of Breaking Up Fallow Ground, by evangelist Charles G. Finney.
Family Counseling Ministry - Charles G. Finney was converted to Christianity in 1821 and thereafter, became a famous evangelist. As we continue in the pursuit of a clear conscience we must regularly examine our hearts for the purpose of confession of sins and repentance before God and others. In this article Dr. Don Dunlap urges readers to prayerfully consider each probing question that Finney poses.
Search me, O God and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Self-examination consists of reviewing our sins one at a time, and soberly considering our thoughts and motives. It also requires that we consider our actions and words, and confess and repent of our sins specifically, one by one.
Charles G. Finney was a renowned evangelist who was saved in 1821. He immediately began to conduct revivals and God used his straightforward gospel preaching to bring many souls to salvation. The following checklist is an edited version of Finneys Breaking Up Fallow Ground. It is a list of sins of which every person is guilty. Finney suggested,
All Christians would do well to go over the list as carefully as a businessman goes over his books, and as often as a sin comes to your memory.
We ought to make any necessary restitution and ask God for His grace and strength to turn away from the sins that we have repented of. It will be of no benefit to examine ourselves unless we are determined to forsake the sins that we have identified and walk in a new direction.
1. Ungratefulness Have you received great blessings and favors from God, but you have failed to give Him thanks? Seek to recall the times of Gods remarkable protection when your life was spared, or some wonderful turn of events that saved you from ruin. Write down the instances of Gods goodness to you when you were still in sin, before your conversion, and the innumerable mercies that you have received since that time.
2. Lack of Love for God Has someone else captured your heart, your thoughts or your time? God calls Himself a jealous God. Have you given your heart to someone or something else and offended Him?
3. Neglect of the Bible Have you gone for weeks or longer when Gods Word was not a pleasure to you? Have you read over entire chapters of Scripture in such a way that afterwards you could not tell what you had been reading?
4. Unbelief Recall the instances in which you have not believed Gods promises.
5. Prayerlessness Think of all the times that you have neglected private prayer, family prayer and group prayer meetings. Repent of the times that you have prayed in such a way that grieved and offended God more than if you had not prayed at all.
6. Neglect of Fellowship Have you made foolish excuses that have prevented you from attending fellowship gatherings with other Christians?
7. Ritually Performing Spiritual Duties Think of the times when you have spoken about God with a lack of faith or feeling. Recall the prayers that you have prayed carelessly, when you were in such a worldly frame of mind that you could hardly remember what you had prayed five minutes afterward.
8. Lack of Love for Souls Look around at your friends, your acquaintances and your relatives, and think of how little compassion you have felt for them. You have stood by, aware that they were lost and doomed for hell, and yet you failed to utter a single, fervent prayer for their salvation.
9. Lack of Concern for Missions Work Perhaps you have cared so little about them that you have made no attempt to learn about the conditions of the people who are poor and spiritually lost in other lands. How much do you really know or care about the unconverted masses of people in the world today? Measure your desire for their salvation by the self-denial and giving that you practice in order to send them the Gospel message.
10. Are you willing to suffer personal inconvenience in an effort to introduce them to Jesus Christ? Or do you defend your standard of living? Do you privately pray for them daily? Do you deny yourself in order to set aside special funds to contribute to missions work?
11. Neglect of Family Duties Consider the kind of example you have set before your family. What direct, ongoing efforts do you make for their spiritual welfare?
12. Being a Careless Witness for Christ Do you fail to take your words and actions seriously? How often have you neglected to guard your conduct and your speech? Do you tell questionable jokes? Do you dress modestly and appropriately or do you use clothing as a means to draw attention to yourself?
13. Failure to Watch Over the Brethren Christians are charged with the solemn duty to watch over one another in the Lord. How little do you know or care about the state of your brothers and sisters souls? What have you done to get to know them more personally? Do you see them falling into sin and yet you hold back and let them go on? Do you merely pretend to love them? Would you watch a close family member falling into disgrace and choose to remain silent?
14. Unwillingness to Deny Self Are you willing to suffer reproach for the sake of Jesus Christ? Do you give your resources for the cause of Christ so long as you can give out of your abundance and surplus? Are you willing to give to God sacrificially?
15. Love of Possessions and Things What is the state of your heart concerning your earthly possessions? Do you view them as yours instead of Gods? Do you love material possessions and seek after them to gratify your selfishness and your ambitions? Do you understand that everything that you own has been entrusted to you by God and that you are to be a faithful steward?
16. Vanity How often have you spent more time adorning yourself externally to attend church, than you spent preparing your heart and your mind to worship God? Have you cared more about how you appeared outwardly to men than how your heart appeared in Gods sight?
17. Envy Have you been jealous of people who were in a higher position than you were? Do you envy people who are more talented than you are? Does it cause you pain to hear certain people receive praise? Do you prefer to dwell on their faults rather than on their virtues? Do you rejoice in their failures rather than their successes?
18. Bitterness Repent of all the times when you have harbored a grudge or a bitter spirit toward someone. Have you spoken of someone in an unloving way? Do you believe the best in people or do you suspect the worst?
19. Slander and Gossip Think of the many times when you have spoken, without cause, behind someones back about his faults, whether real or imagined. While gossip may involve telling lies about someone, slander is defined as telling the truth about someone with the intent to injure him.
20. Levity (Excessive Humor) Do you joke before God in a way that you would not dare to do in the presence of an earthly dignitary or an important official? Do you demonstrate reverence and respect for God?
21. Lying Do you acknowledge the fact that any form of deception is lying? Do you exaggerate facts? Do you stretch the truth to make yourself look better? Do you doctor the truth in an effort to make a good impression on people? Do you tell little white lies? God calls all these practices lying.
22. Cheating Have you cheated your employer by not working diligently during your assigned work hours? Have you cheated the government by wrongfully claiming unemployment benefits, or by selfishly accepting welfare money, food stamps or Social Security money that you did not really need. Have you failed to repay student loans?
23. Hypocrisy Have you confessed sins that you did not really intend to turn away from? Have you prayed aloud in groups for people or situations, when your heart was cold and uncaring? Do you pray in front of others in order to be considered spiritual? Do you agree to pray for someones need and then forget about it as soon as the person is out of sight?
24. Robbing God Do you squander the time that God has given you in pursuit of vain amusements? Do you waste time watching TV or reading worldly novels? Do you waste your God-given talents? Do you spend your money for things that you dont need, or for things that do not contribute to your health or usefulness in Gods kingdom?
25. Failure to Control My Temper Are you an angry person? Do you often lose your temper with your spouse, your children, your friends, your neighbors or your work associates?
26. Hindering Others from Being Useful Do you take up other peoples time needlessly? Are you guilty of idleness yourself, and are you also guilty of preventing other people from accomplishing their God-given tasks?
27. Having Idols Have you had any involvement with the occult, including astrology, witchcraft, meditation, yoga and the whole gamut of Eastern religions and philosophies? Has this led to an involvement in drugs?
28. Sexual Immorality Have you been guilty of fornication and other sexual sins such as adultery, masturbation, pornography or homosexuality?
29. Proud and Rebellious Heart Is it hard for you to admit when you are wrong? Do you long to be recognized by others and to receive credit for your accomplishments? Do you have a rebellious, disobedient or unteachable spirit?
30. Worrying and Being Anxious Do you trust God for your physical and spiritual needs? Do you often murmur and complain? Do you find fault with people easily? Do you have a critical attitude toward people or situations? Are you irritable, cranky, harsh or unkind?
As people read through these items they should keep in mind that the purpose of this checklist is to begin the process of repentance, reconciliation and restoration.