(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
There are three things you can do with sin in your life, according to Proverbs 28:13: “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” You can cover sin, you can confess it, and you can forsake it! Of those three things, the first stands alone – covering your sins! The next two must be linked together to be effective – confessing and forsaking your sins! Let’s consider these three in more detail:
- “He who covers his sins….” Brown – Driver – Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions describes כּסה (pronounced kaw-saw’) this way: “to cover, conceal, hide….” If a person thinks there is no option to get rid of his or her sins, that one tends to cover, conceal, and hide them! That’s what Jesus taught in John 3:19 and 20:
And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
What is the light to which the Lord refers? In John 8:12 Jesus plainly answers that question: “I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the Light of life.” (Modern King James Version).
And if the one who confesses and forsakes their sins has mercy, the one who covers his sins does not have mercy! And what is mercy? It is akin to grace…as Paul opens his three pastoral epistles (I and II Timothy, Titus) with “Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.” Simply put…
✞ Mercy is God not giving us what we so justly deserve – His condemnation! ✞ Grace is God giving us that which we do not deserve – His blessings!
And so the person who tries to cover, conceal, hide his or her sins remains under God’s condemnation (see John 3:36) lacking both mercy and grace!
- “…but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” As said before, these two – confession and forsaking – must be combined if mercy (as well as grace) is to be received! It has been wrongfully said that “…being forgiven means that I can go do what I want! I can then confess my sins and go back to my lifestyle, and it really doesn’t matter what I do!” Yes, it does matter! Let’s look more closely at these two words:
✞ “...confesses....” Hebrew, יָדָה (pronounced yaw-daw’). Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary gives several related meanings, but here in verse 13 the most fitting one is, “...intensively to bemoan (by wringing the hands): - cast (out), (make) confess (-ion)....” To confess, then, means to grieve over sin, and to want to cast it out! But wanting to cast out sin and doing it are not the same thing!
By the way, in the New Testament, the Greek word for confession, οʽμολογέω (pronounced hom-ol-og-eh’-o) according to Thayer’s Greek Definitions, means “…to say the same thing as another…,” that another is God! And as He sees our sin – we are to fully agree with Him! That is Biblical confession!
✞ “...forsakes....” Hebrew עָזַב (pronounced aw-zab’), meaning “...to leave, loose, forsake...to depart from, leave behind...let alone....” (Brown - Driver - Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions). Confession is not enough, if we are not willing to forsake what offends our LORD!
John the Baptist had it right in Matthew 3:1 through 12. Here is a con-densed version of what he told “…the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him.” (Luke 3:7)
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” ...Then Jeru- salem, and all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized... confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance....”
Notice, “…the multitudes…were baptized…confessing their sins.” But John told them it wasn’t enough! He added, “…bear fruits worthy of repentance…” or, forsake what is sinful and produce what is righteous and good in your life! The Apostle Paul listed what should be forsaken and what should be gained in Galatians 5:19 through 23:
Now the works of the flesh...are...adultery, forni- cation, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, mur- ders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like...But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffer- ing [patience], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Forsake the works of the flesh, and gain the fruit of the Spirit! If this seems over-whelming to you, remember, “…God…works in you [through His Holy Spirit] both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13).
Now, a word of warning and encouragement to those who struggle to fulfill forsaking sins! I know the struggle this can entail! I have a very addictive/compulsive nature, struggling against sin over the many years of my Christianity. I was fighting against ongoing sins – addictions to nicotine, overeating, pornography, alcohol, drugs…among other things displeasing to God. Oh, how I wanted to forsake such sinful addictions! I’d try, and then fall back so many times! But I kept trying, praying, and asking God for His help and healing! I learned, through Philippians 2:13 (above) and other Scriptures to stop struggling and rest in the Lord’s love (see Romans 8:31-39), acceptance (see Ephesians 1:6), and power (see Psalm 147:5; Ephesians 1:19). These addictions, one by one over the years, began to fade away! (See John 8:32, 36; Romans 6:18, 22; 8:2; Galatians 5:1). Sometimes with addicted people it miraculously happens in a moment! It is no less a miracle when God takes His time teaching us and applying to us His power of deliverance and healing! That is more of what happened with me.
So take heart, dear people! Confess your sins and forsake them by His mighty power! God’s work in you might be instantaneous, or it could take a long time to learn to rest in His love, acceptance, and power.