"HE that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but
whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." Proverbs 28:13.
The conditions of obtaining mercy of
God are simple and just and reasonable. The Lord does not require us to do some grievous
thing in order that we may have the forgiveness of sin. We need not make long and
wearisome pilgrimages, or perform painful penances, to commend our souls to the God of
heaven or to expiate our transgression; but he that confesseth and forsaketh his sin shall
The apostle says, "Confess your
faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed." James 5:16.
Confess your sins to God, who only can forgive them, and your faults to one another. If
you have given offense to your friend or neighbor, you are to acknowledge your wrong, and
it is his duty freely to forgive you. Then you are to seek the forgiveness of God, because
the brother you have wounded is the property of God, and in injuring him you sinned
against his Creator and Redeemer. The case is brought before the only true Mediator, our
great High Priest, who "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without
sin," and who is "touched with the feeling of our infirmities," and is able
to cleanse from every stain of iniquity. Hebrews 4:15.
Those who have not humbled their
souls before God in acknowledging their guilt, have not yet
fulfilled the first condition
of acceptance. If we have not experienced that repentance which is not to be repented of,
and have not with true humiliation of soul and brokenness of spirit confessed our sins,
abhorring our iniquity, we have never truly sought for the forgiveness of sin; and if we
have never sought, we have never found the peace of God. The only reason why we do not
have remission of sins that are past is that we are not willing to humble our hearts and
comply with the conditions of the word of truth. Explicit instruction is given concerning
this matter. Confession of sin, whether public or private, should be heartfelt and freely
expressed. It is not to be urged from the sinner. It is not to be made in a flippant and
careless way, or forced from those who have no realizing sense of the abhorrent character
of sin. The confession that is the outpouring of the inmost soul finds its way to the God
of infinite pity. The psalmist says, "The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken
heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit." Psalm 34:18.
True confession is always of a
specific character, and acknowledges particular sins. They may be of such a nature as to
be brought before God only; they may be wrongs that should be confessed to individuals who
have suffered injury through them; or they may be of a public character, and should then
be as publicly confessed. But all confession should be definite and to the point,
acknowledging the very sins of which you are guilty.
In the days of Samuel the Israelites
wandered from God. They were suffering the consequences of
sin; for they had lost their
faith in God, lost their discernment of His power and wisdom to rule the nation, lost
their confidence in His ability to defend and vindicate His cause. They turned from the
great Ruler of the universe and desired to be governed as were the nations around them.
Before they found peace they made this definite confession: "We have added unto all
our sins this evil, to ask us a king." 1 Samuel 12:19. The very sin of which they
were convicted had to be confessed. Their ingratitude oppressed their souls and severed
them from God.
Confession will not be acceptable to
God without sincere repentance and reformation. There must be decided changes in the life;
everything offensive to God must be put away. This will be the result of genuine sorrow
for sin. The work that we have to do on our part is plainly set before us: "Wash you,
make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes; cease to do evil;
learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for
the widow." Isaiah 1:16, 17. "If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that
he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely
live, he shall not die." Ezekiel 33:15. Paul says, speaking of the work of
repentance: "Ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea,
what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement
desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be
clear in this matter." 2 Corinthians 7:11.
When sin has deadened the moral
perceptions, the wrongdoer does not discern the defects of his character nor realize the
enormity of the evil he has committed; and unless he yields to the convicting power of the
Holy Spirit he remains in partial blindness to his sin. His confessions are not sincere
and in earnest. To every acknowledgment of his guilt he adds an apology in excuse of his
course, declaring that if it had not been for certain circumstances he would not have done
this or that for which he is reproved.
After Adam and Eve had eaten of the
forbidden fruit, they were filled with a sense of shame and terror. At first their only
thought was how to excuse their sin and escape the dreaded sentence of death. When the
Lord inquired concerning their sin, Adam replied, laying the guilt partly upon God and
partly upon his companion: "The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of
the tree, and I did eat." The woman put the blame upon the serpent, saying, "The
serpent beguiled me, and I did eat." Genesis 3: 12, 13. Why did You make the serpent?
Why did You suffer him to come into Eden? These were the questions implied in her excuse
for her sin, thus charging God with the responsibility of their fall. The spirit of
self-justification originated in the father of lies and has been exhibited by all the sons
and daughters of Adam. Confessions of this order are not inspired by the divine Spirit and
will not be acceptable to God. True repentance will lead a man to bear his guilt himself
and acknowledge it without deception or hypocrisy. Like the poor publican, not lifting up
so much as his eyes unto heaven, he will cry, "God be
merciful to me a sinner,"
and those who do acknowledge their guilt will be justified, for Jesus will plead His blood
in behalf of the repentant soul.
The examples in God's word of
genuine repentance and humiliation reveal a spirit of confession in which there is no
excuse for sin or attempt at self-justification. Paul did not seek to shield himself; he
paints his sin in its darkest hue, not attempting to lessen his guilt. He says, "Many
of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests;
and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in
every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them,
I persecuted them even unto strange cities." Acts 26: 10, 11. He does not hesitate to
declare that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am
chief." 1 Timothy 1:15.
The humble and broken heart, subdued
by genuine repentance, will appreciate something of the love of God and the cost of
Calvary; and as a son confesses to a loving father, so will the truly penitent bring all
his sins before God. And it is written, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and
just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9.