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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Humble Exhortation

"He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy."(Pro 28:13)

These words of Solomon, like that of Christ, have "no form or comeliness" that the world should desire them; but for the true believer, who has received a divine work of grace within his heart,these words offer great comfort and hope. For though they speak of "sin" and its terrible consequences, yet, they promise "deliverance" from that which once "enslaved the believer"and kept him in "bondage".

For though it is true that "there is no condemnation, to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit" (Rom 8:1), yet, the work of "mortification of sin" is ever needed if the believer is to be "a vessel unto honor, sanctified and meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work" (2 Tim2:21). Therefore, these words of Solomon offer the true believer great comfort and hope in this great work of mortification.

"He that covereth his sins shall not prosper". For the true believer, though he struggles against "sin in his members", knows that in "covering, or concealing" his sins there is no real deliverance or conquering of such sins. For grace imparted has taught him that God, "who desires truth in the inward parts", would have the believer humbly acknowledge and confess such sins, if he is to receive "mercy and deliverance from his sins".

Man, like Adam who sought to hide himself from the presence of God, would seek to "hide his sins from God" by "covering them" with excuses or by casting blame on others. The sinner refuses to "acknowledge and confess" his own guilt", but will always seek to condone or excuse his sinful actions before God. Yet, the true believer is taught by Scripture and the Holy Spirit, that "humble confession and admission of guilt" is the only way by which he shall receive "mercy".

"But whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy". This is the divine chariot upon which true mercy rides and by which mercy is freely received. And while the sinner rejects and denies to humbly confess and forsake his sins, they being so desirable and attractive to him; the believer on the other hand, has through grace imparted,come to "loath and abhor" those sins for which Christ Himself suffered and died to deliver him from! He therefore, does not "shun or avoid" such confession, but welcomes and embraces such confession which opens the door for mercy to be received.

"Silence" rather than "confession" torments the believer's heart and mind, making him of all men most miserable.

When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. (Psalm 32:3-4)

Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.(Psalm 28:1)

Unrepentant sin for the believer works like a "pestilent sore" eating away at his joy, peace and hope, until in great despair he "cries out to God". This too, beloved, is an act of unmerited mercy and grace. For should God leave the believer alone, he too, would be so hardened by sin, that "confession and repentance" would never be desired.

"It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness" (Lam 3: 22-23).

Therefore, when overcome by sin, the true believer embraces such "confession and acknowledgement" of his own guilt and sin, not desiring to "hide, cover or excuse" any guilt or sin, but longing to have such sin and guilt exposed, that true and thorough confession might be exercised.

"I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah." (Psalm 32:5)

And yet, even in our humble confession and acknowledgement of sin, we sense a great need of divine assistance. For be our confession ever so humble, or ever so sincere, knowing the deceitfulness of our own hearts and the greatness of sins deceptive power, we desire God, "Who knoweth the secrets of the heart" (Psalm 44:21), "to search and know our hearts; to try us and to know our thoughts; to see if there be any wicked way in us, and to lead us in the way everlasting" (Psalm139:23-24).

This humble truth has ever been known and confessed by God's people down through the ages…

"Since I repented last time another matter has given me great sorrow,which is, that if I rigorously scrutinize the best of what I now do,I discover sin. New sin is mixed with my best. For this cause, I cannot but conclude, that in spite of own self-conceited and imaginative I am towards myself and my work, even if my past is without blemish, the sins which I commit in one day are enough to put me in hell- IF IT IS NOT BECAUSE OF SUCH A GREAT SAVIOR, WHO CAN SAVE SUCH A SINNER LIKE ME!" (John Bunyan)

"In all the duties which we fulfill there are corruptions mingled in them. Should Jesus Christ accept us according to our works after we have repented, our works would surely condemn us; for never can we offer a prayer as perfect as the moral law of God demands. I do not know how you think, but I can say, I cannot pray, I can only sin; I cannot preach to you or to other people, I can only sin; I am forced to confess, even my repentance needs to be repented of, even my tears need to be washed in the precious blood of my Redeemer. Our best works are but the refinest sins!" (George Whitefield)

"He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy."(Pro 28:13)

"Confess and forsake", herein lies the believer's goal in the confessing of his sins. For he knows that confession alone is not sufficient of itself in the "mortifying of his sins", but longs that such humble confession would lead to a true "forsaking of such sins".

For the hypocrite, a mere formal or superficial confession of sins is sufficient, for he confesses without a desire to forsake! Yet, it is the "forsaking of sins" which proves the "genuineness and sincerity"of our confession of sins! For "true confession of sins, coupled with a great desire to forsake such sins", opens the door for mercy to be received!

O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. (Hos 14:1-2)

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves,and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2Ch 7:14)

Oh may God grant us all much mercy and grace in humbly confessing our sins, with the desire to "forsake such sins". For then, we shall surely receive mercy and be healed; so will we render the "calves of our lips."

I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the LORD better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs. The humble shall see this, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God.(Psa 69:30-32)

Show pity, Lord, O Lord, forgive,
Let a repenting rebel live:
Are not Thy mercies large and free?
May not a sinner trust in Thee?
My crimes are great, but not surpass
The power and glory of Thy grace:
Great God, Thy nature hath no bound,
So let Thy pardoning love be found.
O wash my soul from every sin,
And make my guilty conscience clean;
Here on my heart the burden lies,
And past offenses pain my eyes.
My lips with shame my sins confess
Against Thy law, against Thy grace:
Lord, should Thy judgment grow severe,
I am condemned, but Thou art clear.
Should sudden vengeance seize my breath,
I must pronounce Thee just in death;
And if my soul were sent to hell,
Thy righteous law approves it well.
Yet save a trembling sinner, Lord,
Whose hope, still hovering round Thy Word,
Would light on some sweet promise there,
Some sure support against despair.
(Isaac Watts)

Pastor Audey Shepard

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