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“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 have mercy.
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,” Hebrews 4:15 and is able to cleanse from every stain of iniquity.
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
When sin has deadened the moral perceptions, the wrong-doer 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
acknowledgement 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,” Luke 18:13, 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 off 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.
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