view as web pdf Confessions

(Banket, Zimbabwe)

"He that covereth his sins shall not prosper. But whoever confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy" (Prov.28:13). The conditions for obtaining the mercy of God are simple, just and reasonable. The Lord does not require us to do some great thing in order that we may have forgiveness of sin ­ we need not make long and wearisome pilgrimages, or perform painful penances to confess our sins but "he that confesseth and forsaketh his sins shall have mercy" (Prov 28:13).

The apostle James says, "Confess your faults to one another and pray one for another, that you 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 offence to your friend or neighbour you are to acknowledge your wrong, and it is his duty to freely forgive you. Then you are to seek the forgiveness of God, because you have wronged your brother and thus disobeyed the Lord's commandment. 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. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb.4:15- 16).

Those who have not humbled themselves before God in acknowledgement of their guilt have not yet fulfilled the first condition of acceptance. If we have not experienced that repentance, and have not with true humiliation of soul and brokenness of spirit confessed our sins, abhorring our iniquity, we have never truly sought, nor 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. Confessions of sins, whether public or private, should be heartfelt and freely expressed. It is not urged from the sinner, it is not to be made in a flippant and careless way, or forced from those who have no realisation or 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 mercy. The Psalmist says, "The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart, and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit" (Ps.34:18).

True confession is 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 ­ they should then be publicly confessed.

In the days of Samuel the Israelites wandered from God, 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 support 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 for ourselves a king" (1 Sam.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 a decided change 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 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 judgement, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow" (Isa. 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" (Ezek.33:15).

Paul says, speaking of the work of repentance, "For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a Godly manner: what diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter" (2 Cor. 7:11).

When sin has deadened the moral perceptions, the doer does not discern the defects of his own character, nor realise the enormity of the evil he has committed, and unless he yields to the convicting power of the Spirit, he remains in partial blindness to his sin. His confessions are not sincere, nor 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 committed the sin 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 sins and escape the dreaded sentence of death. When the Lord enquired concerning their sin, Adam replied, laying the guilt upon his companion. "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave of the tree and I did eat". The woman put the blame upon the serpent, saying "The serpent beguiled me and I did eat" (Gen.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 mankind 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.

Bro. Fibion Ngozi

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