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
The words of Psalms 139:23 are the scriptural basis for a Christian to
regularly examine his or her heart for the purpose of confession of sins and
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
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
As we review this list of sins and discover various sins of
which we are guilty, we should confess every sin to God and repent of each sin
individually. Then we must go to the people that we may have offended by the
commission of our sins and ask for their forgiveness.
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.
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?
Recall the instances in which you have not believed Gods promises.
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
6. Neglect of
Fellowship Have you made foolish excuses that have prevented you from
attending fellowship gatherings with other Christians?
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
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
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
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
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
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
28. Sexual Immorality Have you been guilty of
fornication and other sexual sins such as adultery, masturbation, pornography
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
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.