XI. THE CONFESSION OF SIN
`If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.' -- 1 John 1:9
The one thing that God hates, that grieves Him, that He is provoked by, and that He will destroy, is sin. The one thing that makes man unhappy, is sin. (Gen. 6:5,6; Isa. 13:24; Ezek. 33:6; Rev. 6:16,17) The one thing for which Jesus had to give His blood was sin. In all the intercourse betwixt the sinner and God, this is thus the first thing that the sinner must bring to his God -- sin. (Judg. 10:10,15,16; 2 Chron. 27:14; Ezra 9:6; Neh. 2:33; 9:2,33; Jer. 3:21,25; Dan. 9:4,5,20)
When you came to Jesus at first, you perceived this in some measure. But you should learn to understand this lesson more deeply. The one counsel concerning sin is, to bring it daily to the only One who can take it away -- God Himself. You should learn that one of the greatest privileges of a child of God is -- the confession of sin. It is only the holiness of God that can consume sin; through confession I must hand over my sin to God, lay it down in God, get quit of it to God, cast it into the fiery oven of God's holy love which burns against sin like a fire. God, yes, God Himself, and He alone, takes away sin. (Lev. 4:21; Num. 5:7; 2 Sam. 12:13: Ps. 32:5, 38:19; 51:5,19)
This the Christian does not always understand. He has an inborn tendency to desire to cover sin, or to make it less, or to root it out only when he purposes drawing near to God. He thinks to cover sin with his repentance and self-blame, with scorn of the temptation that came to him, or otherwise with what he has done or still hopes to do. (Gen. 3:12; Ex. 32:22,24; Isa. 1:11,15; Luke 13:26) Young Christian, if you would enjoy the gladness of a complete forgiveness and a divine cleansing of sin, see to it that you use aright the confession of sin. In the true confession of sin you have one of the most blessed privileges of a child of God, one of the deepest roots of a powerful spiritual life.
For this end, let your confession be a definite one. (Num 12:11, 21:7; 2 Sam. 24;10,17; Isa. 59:12,13; Luke 23:41; Acts 1:18,19; 22:19,20; 1 Tim. 1:13,15) The continued indeterminate confession of sin does more harm than good. It is much better to say to God that you have nothing to confess, than to confess you know not what. Begin with one sin. Let it come to a complete harmony betwixt God and you concerning this one sin. Let it be fixed with you that this sin is through confession placed in God's hands. you shall experience that in such confession there are both power and blessing.
Let the confession be an upright one. (Prov. 28:13; Lev. 26:40,41; Jer. 31:18,19) By it deliver up the sinful deed to be laid aside. By it deliver up the sinful feeling with a view to trusting in God. Confession implies renunciation, the putting off of sin. Give up sin to God, to forgive it to you, and to cleanse you from it. Do not confess, if you are not prepared, if you do not heartily desire to be freed from it. Confession has value only as it is a giving up of sin to God.
Let the confession be trustful (2 Sam. 12:13; Ps. 32:5; Isa. 4:7) Reckon firmly upon God actually to forgive you, and also to cleanse you from sin. Continue in confession, in casting the sin of which you desire to be rid into the fire of God's holiness until your soul has the firm confidence that God takes it on His own account to forgive and to cleanse away. It is this faith that really overcomes the world and sin: the faith that God in Jesus really emancipates from sin. (1 John 5:5; 2:12)
Brother, do you understand it now? What must you do with sin, with every sin? To bring it in confession to God, to give it to God; God alone takes away sin.
Lord God, what thanks shall I express for this unspeakable blessing, that I may come to Thee with sin. It is known to Thee, Lord, how sin before Thy holiness causes terror and flight. It is known to Thee how it is our deepest thought, first to have sin covered, and then to come to Thee with our desire and endeavour for good. Lord, teach me to come to Thee with sin, every sin, and in confession to lay it down before Thee and give it up to Thee. Amen.
1. What is the distinction betwixt the covering of sin by God and by man? How does man do it? How does God do it?
2. What are the great hindrances in the way of the confession of sin?
Ignorance about sin.
Fear to come with sin to the holy God.
The endeavour to come to God with something good.
Unbelief in the power of the blood and in the riches of grace.
3. Must I immediately confess an oath or a lie or a wrong word, or wait until my feeling has first cooled and become rightly disposed? O pray, confess it immediately; come in full sinfulness to God, without first desiring to make it less!
4. Is it also necessary or good to confess before man? It is indispensable, if our sin has been against man. And, besides, it is often good; it is often easier to acknowledge before God than before man that I have done something (Jas. 5:16).