"He that covereth his sins shall
not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy."
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,"
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
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
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.