By General William Booth
Edited and paraphrased by Melody Green
and Martin Bennett William
William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, lived and worked in England in the late 1800s. He led countless tens of thousands of hurting people into a clean and fruitful relationship with the Lord. The following steps are not the untested ideas of a fanatic, but rather the wisdom of a man who deeply loved God. William Booth loved others enough not only to tell them about Jesus, but to go out into their misery, filth, and darkness to share in their pain – that they, in return, might share in his joy in knowing God. It is possible for anyone who has a sincere desire to find God, to enter into that joy and peace He so freely gives to those who love Him. It is our prayer that you will read this with an open and searching heart – and that you will enter into a deep and loving relationship with your Father in heaven.
Before You Start
These seven steps are for the use of those who have aserious desire to receive the mercy of God, whichalone can deliver them from their bad habits, from the powers of darkness, and from the wrath to come. To those who read this, I give the following instructions:
1. Set apart a special time to read and consider these things – going away, if possible, into some quiet place where you can be alone with God.
2. Earnestly pray and ask God for the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit which He has promised to all who seek Him. God will give you the Holy Spirit if you ask.
3. With all your heart, on your knees before God, take one step at a time. Be careful not to leave the first step for the second until it is clearly understood, fully accepted as true, and solemnly decided upon. Do the same with the second and third steps, until the last step is reached.
4. After reading this carefully and thoughtfully from beginning to end, go through it again, following the same instructions.
5. If this course is followed, I feel quite sure that no sincere person will fail to reach not only the mercy seat of God, but the loving arms of the Savior and the knowledge of the forgiveness of their sins.
Discovery of Sin
Romans 14:23, James 4:17, I John1:8
Sin is anything I do that displeases God – and a sinner is anyone who practices those things. Any time I consider myself, my ambitions, or my feelings as more important than God, or do something that I know is wrong, I am practicing sin. I know I am a sinner. I have sinned against my God, against my neighbor, and against my own soul. I have sinned in my thoughts, in my feelings, in my conversation, and in my actions. I have sinned in the world, in my business, and in my pleasure. I have done many things I should not have done, and I have left undone many things that I should have done. I freely admit it. I will not cover up or make excuses for my sins. My sins are more than I can count, and they have caused pain to God and man far beyond possible estimation. They have dishonored my Heavenly Father, treated the sacrifice of Jesus my Savior as worthless, and have had a bad influence not only upon the members of my own family, but upon my friends and acquaintances as well. I now realize that I fully deserve the everlasting displeasure of God, and I see that if I should die in my sins I would be eternity separated from God, falling into the damnation of hell. O Lord have mercy upon me!!!
Sorrow for Sin
II Corinthians 7:9-10
Not only do I see that I have sinned against God, causing Him great pain – but I am truly sorry that I have done so. I hate my evil ways, and I hate myself for having followed them. I am grieved on account of my sins – not only because they have exposed me to punishment, but because they have been committed against my Heavenly Father, Who has continually loved and cared for me. If I could undo the past I would gladly do so, but I can’t! The sins I have committed are written down against me in God’s book, and He knows and remembers all of them. No prayers that I can offer – no tears that I can shed – no expression of sorrow or mourning that I can make – no good works that I can perform – will remove that terrible record. My only hope is in the forgiving mercy of Jesus Christ, Who has said, “The one who comes to Me, I will not cast out.” (John 6:37)
Confession of Sin
Proverbs 28:13, James 5:16, I John1:8-9
Not only am I sorry for the wrong things that I have done, but I freely acknowledge and confess my sins before God. I have no excuse to make for them. It may be true that much of the evil I have been guilty of has been done in ignorance. I did not know God or my duty to Him or the greatness of the love of my Savior dying for me. I was ignorant of the evil influence which my conduct and example were often having on others. But this ignorance is no real excuse, because I should have known better. I should have read my Bible and listened to those who would have taught me. I should have thought about my soul, and cried to God for help. But I didn’t, and now my mouth is closed before Him. And I do here and now confess myself before God to be a guilty sinner, without excuse, deserving His anger now and forever.
Not only do I make this confession in private, but seeing that I have sinned in the presence of my family, and in the presence of the people around me, I am perfectly willing to openly acknowledge my sinfulness and my sorrow on account of it. As far as I have the opportunity, I will admit my guilt before Christians, before my own family, and before the world. Not having been ashamed to sin in the presence of others, I am now willing to acknowledge my sin in their presence also.
Putting Away Sin
Luke 13:3, Acts 3:18; 26:20
Not only do I see myself to be a sinner and hate my sins and confess them before God and man, but I do now, by God’s help, renounce and give up every one of them. Whatever pleasure they may have brought me in the past, and whatever earthly gain they may promise me in the future, I do here and now, in the strength of God, put them away and promise that I will never take them back again.
Asking Forgiveness for Sin
II Chronicles 7:14, James 4:10, I John 1:9
Feeling ashamed for having turned away from my Heavenly Father by despising and rejecting His love, breaking His commandments, and influencing others to do the same, I do here and now on my knees humbly submit myself to Him. I pray that He will have mercy upon me, a miserable sinner, and I beg Him for Christ’s sake to forgive all my sins, to receive me into His favor, and to make me, unworthy as I am, a member of His family.
Romans 6:13; 12:1
I promise God, here and now, in His strength, and with all my heart, that if He will forgive me and receive me into His favor, I will from this day forward be His faithful servant, promising to spend the rest of my days doing what I can for His glory, for the advancement of His Kingdom, and taking the love of Jesus to those who do not know Him.
John 6:28-29, Galatians 2:16, Hebrews 11:6
I believe that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, in His great mercy and love, died for me and in my place, bearing my sins in His own body on the cross. And believing this, I do here and now welcome Him into my heart as my Savior from sin, from selfishness, from the power of the devil, and from hell itself. Jesus Christ said in the Bible that if I will go to Him, He will not cast me out. (John 6:37) And I do come to Him with all my heart just now, as a poor, helpless, guilty sinner, seeking salvation. I know that He will not reject me. As well as I can, I believe that He does at this very moment take me in. He forgives me now. His blood that was shed at the cross washes all my sins away. He was wounded for my sin; He was bruised for the wrong that I did against Him and others; the punishment I ought to have endured was laid on Him; and with His suffering I am healed and brought into a right relationship with the one true living God. I am forgiven at last. Praise to God – Jesus saves me now!