"He who conceals his sin does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy" (Proverbs 28:13).
The last words of each line contain the most important truth. If you conceal your sin, you will not prosper. If you confess it and forsake it, you will find mercy. How hard it is to believe these words and to take them at face value. When we sin, everything within us screams out "Cover it up. Turn off the lights. Bury the evidence. Destroy the tapes. Make up an alibi. Leave the scene of the crime. Run! Run! Run!"
Something in our spiritual bloodstream causes us to run from the pain of confession. When God confronted Adam with his sin, the first man made the first excuse in history, "The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it" (Genesis 3:12). Not a very noble answer. In the end he grudgingly confesses, but not before blaming Eve and, by implication, God.
Two key words deserve special attention. The first is "confess," which means "to tell the whole truth." When we confess, we are not only admitting our sin, we are also agreeing with God’s assessment of what we did. True confession begins with the notion that God is God and that we have knowingly violated His standards. The second word is "renounce," which means "to abandon, forsake, desert, turn away from." True confession always leads to renunciation. If after confessing our sin, we quickly return to it, or if we long to return to it, then we have missed the teaching of this verse and we will not find God’s mercy.
Several years ago one of my brothers sent me some material from a Christian counselor. On one of the sheets he had done a take-off on the words of Jesus in John 8:32, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." The counselor had added a key phrase: "The truth shall make you free . . . but it will hurt you first.".That strikes me as an extremely important insight. This explains why so many people struggle with their problems for years. They don't want the truth to hurt them . . . so they avoid the truth at all costs.
Do they want to get better? Absolutely.
Do they know the truth? Intellectually, yes.
Then why don't they get better? Because they won't let the truth get close enough to hurt them. Instead, they erect a thousand defense mechanisms that deflect the truth before it hits home. Which explains why you can go to church for years, listen to sermons for years, read the Bible and pray for years . . . and still not get better. "The truth will set you free, but it will hurt you first." When you are finally willing to be hurt by the truth about yourself, then—and only then—will you be set free.
Most people don’t enjoy confessing their sins so they avoid it whenever possible. But when we dare to take God at His word, we discover the joy of forgiveness. If you are willing to tell the truth about yourself, you can be set free.
Heavenly Father, give me the grace to tell the truth so that your grace might make me clean. Amen.
To sign up for Pastor Ray's free weekly sermon email list, click here. You can find his daily weblog, online sermons, travel schedule, and other resources at www.keepbelieving.com. You can write Pastor Ray at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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About Dr. Ray Pritchard
Dr. Ray Pritchard is the president of Keep Believing Ministries, in Internet-based ministry serving Christians in 225 countries. He is the author of 27 books, including Stealth Attack, Fire and Rain, Credo, The Healing Power of Forgiveness, An Anchor for the Soul and Why Did This Happen to Me? Ray and Marlene, his wife of 37 years, have three sons-Josh, Mark and Nick, two daughters-in-law--Leah and Vanessa, and two grandsons--Knox and Eli. His hobbies include biking, surfing the Internet, and anything related to the Civil War.
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