Chapter 4—Confession

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“You will never succeed in life if you try to hide your sins. Confess them and give them up; then God will show mercy to you.” Proverbs 28:13.

The rules for receiving the mercy of God are simple, fair, and reasonable. The Lord does not ask us to do something hard and painful so that our sins may be forgiven. We do not need to make long, tiring journeys. We cannot pay for our sins by suffering. Anyone who confesses his sins and turns away from them will receive mercy.

The desire to make excuses for one’s sins comes from Satan and is shared by all people. But confessing by blaming someone else is not God’s way, and He will not accept it.

The apostle James says, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that ye may be healed.” James 5:16, KJV. We confess our sins to God, for only He can forgive them. We confess our faults to one another. If we have offended a friend or neighbor, we must admit the wrong, and it is his duty to forgive freely. Then we are to ask God to forgive us, because the neighbor belongs to God. When we hurt him, we sin against his Creator and Redeemer.

We take the case to Jesus Christ, our great High Priest. “Our High Priest is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weaknesses…. We have a High Priest who was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin.” Hebrews 4:15. He is able to wash away every spot of sin.

We must humble ourselves before God and admit that we have sinned. This is the first rule for being accepted by God. If we have not repented and humbled ourselves, confessing our sins, we have not truly asked for forgiveness. If we do not hate our sins, we do not truly want to be forgiven, and we do not find the peace of God.

If we have not been forgiven for our sins, the only reason is that we are not willing to humble ourselves. We are not willing to follow the rules set forth in the Bible. God has carefully told us what we are to do. We must open our hearts and freely admit we have sinned. We should not do this in a light or careless way. Nor should we be forced to do it. We must realize how bad sin is, and hate it.

If we truly confess, pouring out our hearts to God, He will hear and pity us. The psalmist, David, wrote, “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” Psalm 34:18, KJV.

True confession names the sin. It tells exactly what was done. A person may need to confess some sins only to God. Or he may need to go to some person and tell him that he is sorry he has hurt him. He may need to confess some sins in public. But every time a person confesses, he should name the sin of which he is guilty.

In the days of Samuel the people of Israel were not following God. They had lost faith in God and felt He was no longer able to lead them. They did not feel God’s power, nor did they trust Him to care for them. They turned away from the great Ruler of the universe and asked for a king such as the other nations had.

God gave His people a king, but they had many troubles. Before they could find peace with God they made this confession: “We now realize that, besides all our other sins, we have sinned by asking for a king.” 1 Samuel 12:19. They had to confess the exact sin that had caused their trouble. They had not been thankful to God for His leading, and this had cut them off from Him.

God cannot accept our confession unless we repent and give up our sins. We must make decided changes in our lives. When we are truly sorry for sin, we will give up everything that is not pleasing to God. The work that we must do is plainly set before us: “Wash yourselves clean. Stop all this evil that I see you doing. Yes, stop doing evil and learn to do right. See that justice is done—help those who are oppressed, give orphans their rights, and defend widows.” Isaiah 1:16, 17. “If he [an evil man] returns the security he took for a loan or gives back what he stole—if he stops sinning and follows the laws that give life, he will not die, but live.” Ezekiel 33:15.

Paul says that changes take place when a person repents: “See what God did with this sadness of yours: how earnest it has made you, how eager to prove your innocence! Such indignation, such alarm, such feelings, such devotion, such readiness to punish wrongdoing! You have shown yourselves to be without fault in the whole matter.” 2 Corinthians 7:11.

When sin dulls the moral senses, the sinner does not see what is wrong with his character. His sins do not look very bad to him. He is almost blind to them unless the power of the Holy Spirit opens his eyes. A person who is not led by the Holy Spirit is not sincere and in earnest when he confesses. He excuses his sins. He says he would not have done wrong if certain conditions had been different.

After Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they were ashamed and afraid. At first their only thought was how to excuse their sin and escape death. When the Lord asked about their sin, Adam blamed God and Eve. He said, “The woman you put here with me gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” The woman blamed the snake. She said, “The snake tricked me into eating it.” Genesis 3:12, 13. She was saying to God, “Why did You make the snake? Why did You let him come into Eden?” She was excusing herself and blaming God for her sin.

The desire to make excuses for one’s sins comes from Satan and is shared by all people. But confessing by blaming someone else is not God’s way, and He will not accept it.

True repentance will lead a person to admit his guilt without trying to act innocent or making excuses. Like the tax collector of whom Jesus spoke, he will pray without even lifting his eyes to heaven, “God, have pity on me, a sinner.” God will forgive those who admit they are guilty, for Jesus gave His life to save sinners who repent. He is the great High Priest in heaven.

We read in the Bible of people who truly repented. They were humble and confessed their sins. They did not try to make excuses or defend what they had done. The apostle Paul told of his sin of trying to kill the Christians. He did not try to make it appear small. He made it sound as bad as he could. He said: “I received authority from the chief priests and put many of God’s people in prison; and when they were sentenced to death, I also voted against them. Many times I had them punished in the synagogues and tried to make them deny their faith. I was so furious with them that I even went to foreign cities to persecute them.” Acts 26:10, 11. Paul was eager to say, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I am the worst of them.” 1 Timothy 1:15.

A brokenhearted person, humbled by true repentance, will see how much God loves him. He will understand the cost of Calvary. The sinner who is really sorry will confess. He will come to God as freely as a son comes to a loving father. John wrote, “If we confess our sins to God, he will keep his promise and do what is right: he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing.” 1 John 1:9.

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