How To Get Forgiveness From God (Homologeo: confessing or acknowledging our sins)

How To Get Forgiveness From God
Robert Wurtz II

And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. (2 Samuel 12:13)

Our passage is a small, but vital part of the story of king David’s sin in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. He had stayed home when the kings went off to war in the house that Hiram the king of Tyre had built for him. (Ezekiel 28:14-19) He wist not that he was being set up of the enemy. The subtle and seemingly insignificant voices and choices of his life had brought David to a baited-snare prepared by the Devil. He saw Bathsheba, called her to his room, and a terrible series of sins ensued. The sordid details of the events are recorded in 2 Samuel 11:1-17.

Obstacles to Confessing

It is human nature to want to cover our sins. Nobody wants to be embarrassed. In modern times exposing peoples’ sins has become a sport. Hardly a week goes by and someone is in the media caught in sin — with millions of people “piling on.” There is a violence in our age that seeks to destroy people. It’s like a diabolic ground and pound is loosed upon the fallen seeking to beat them to pieces. It is Satan at work. I have always marveled at the way in which people can condemn others knowing they have done similar sins. In fact, I attended a court hearing once in which a young man was being charged with a crime. The judged scolded him and ended his rant with this sobering question, “Do you know what the difference is between you and I? You got caught and I didn’t!” With this attitude prevailing in the land it become more difficult by the day to confess our sins when we have done wrong. The Devil works to make each and every person a prisoner to their own past — yet Christ has come to set the captives free. 

I was at a conference a number of years ago and an opportunity was given to share a confession with the people. In fact, it was streaming live all over the world. Feeling pricked in my heart I went up as I have done many times over my Christian life to acknowledge that I was not as perfect as I sometimes projected by my actions. Some brothers prayed with me and others who did likewise. As is typical of these events, there were some who viewed it as an occasion to criticize and condescend. I was quite upset about it and determined to never be vulnerable like that again. However, over the years I have come to realize that the enemy was trying to use this situation (and others like it) to harden my heart before God. Satan does not like it when we are self-loathing (for lack of a better term) and sensitive before the Lord. He wants us to proudly carry on as if we are perfect before God so that the world “will never see us sweat.” Can you imagine how many people were lined up to throw a stone at king David? They may have had two or three mistresses on the side themselves; but if people were then as they are today they would have stoned him with lipstick on their own collar. 

How could a person be so callous that they would send someone to jail for doing the very thing they did — only they didn’t get caught? This, to me, is one of the many reasons why hell is going to be so hot. Like the man forgiven of a fortune Matthew 26:28 who then went and took his neighbor by the throat over a few coins. “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?” (Romans 2:1–3 KJV) In spite of all of these things we have an obligation to confess our sins before the Lord. If our sin is known publically it should be confessed to the extent that it is known. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”
(Proverbs 28:13 KJV)   

Cover Up and Denial 

When the “writing is on the wall” and a person still will not own up to their wrong doing — we call that “denial.” It is an ancient sin traced to Cain and his evasive and contemptuous answers when confronted by God. The Lord knows that this is often a human reaction to sin. Cover-up and then deny. It can last for hours, days, weeks and years. It all depends on when the guilty decide to change their mind about their behavior and justify God instead of themselves. All the evidence in the world cannot secure a confession if the person is not prepared to admit. Many variables weigh in on this stubbornness. We simply don’t want to admit that we could do something so dishonorable. 

Convinced of Sin

Nobody likes to be confronted when they are in error. Herod killed John the Baptist because his wife was furious over John’s preaching. She wanted his head in a charger and Herod gave it to her. Paul told the Roman authorities that the Jews sought to kill him because he called them to repentance (Acts 26:19-21). It is safe to say that nobody wants to be confronted with their sins. 

King David was an unusual case because he held the power to kill his accusers. Shockingly, he had already demonstrated he was willing to kill to cover up his sin (i.e. he had Uriah killed). In fact, Joab knew David so well that he anticipated exactly what he would say to the messenger that gave the details of the losses in battle. He armed the messenger with these words, thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also. To this David was pleased and replied, Thus shalt thou say unto Joab, Let not this thing displease thee, for the sword devoureth one as well as another: make thy battle more strong against the city, and overthrow it: and encourage thou him. Imagine a man that should have been livid at the negligence of one of his leaders actually encouraging him. Joab knew something was up.  

What Did Joab Find? 

It’s hard to imagine how paranoid David had to be. He knew of all people Joab could do simple math. No one is that dumb. And when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband. How long did this last? No woman would be so shady as to jump right into a marriage before her husband’s bones are even cold in the grave. Some amount of time had to elapse. Even if it were weeks, the clock is ticking and David knows it. He only has roughly nine months before this child is born and he already lost near a month from the time of her cleansing until the discovery of the pregnancy. That means there are eight months before birth at the time of Uriah’s death. 

David had to be sweating bullets. And when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son. (2 Samuel 11:26, 27) David has a problem though, this all looks very suspicious. His own conscience would have smitten him to no end, but he is also living with the daily fear of discovery. What did he say later? “For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.” (Psalms 32:4 KJV) That is a verse to a song! Could you imagine singing a hymn about being under conviction of the Holy Spirit? Maybe we should do it. 

Uncommon Courage

There is no telling how long David would have gone if he had not been confronted. Had this thing drawn out for years and years he would have become a spiritual zombie. Struggling day to day to scratch out an existence on this earth. He would have lost his cutting edge. What if he had no Prophet? This is the trouble with error, the enemy often puts people in position to ride out their sin until at last they either lose their mind or destroy themselves. The king seemed to have nobody willing to confront him. Who would do it? A close friend? A family member? Not usually. Friends and family are often anything but confrontational, because they fear the loss of the relationship too much to confront a situation. The Jews have a saying, that one of the causes of the ruin of their nation was, “No man reproved another.” (Adam Clarke) This is the strategy of the enemy. How many people thought, “It’s not my place to ask” or “I can’t talk to him!” People are smart enough to know that confronting a person that is not in a place to hear it will often hate them afterwards. Proverbs tells us:

These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment. He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him: But to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them. (Proverbs 24:23-25)  

Relationships have the power to corrupt right judgment. In fact, relationships have the power to corrupt our theology. The time would fail to speak of the times I have seen ministers change their theology to agree with their loved ones’ lifestyle. Nevertheless, a friend or family member may well slip down into hell because of fear of addressing their state. Why? Just to save the relationship. It is one of the most common exchanges for souls; relationships. Standing for truth and what is right takes uncommon courage when there is a high price-tag on the line. Nathan the prophet is said by some to be one of the bravest men in all the Bible. David could have killed him. Yet fearlessly, Nathan, who was just a man went to the king. He was a Prophet, but he was still a man. Notice that he did not bring out all the evidence. He had not obtained the letter from Joab or drew up in black and white the fact that the baby was born full-term and yet it was only a seven plus month pregnancy. He did not use anything that David could have explained away. He went in the power and influence of the Holy Spirit. 

Dealing With Sin Under the New Covenant 

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. This is hard to do, but it is the way of Christ (Robertson) The Rev. version ‘shew’ is better than tell, which implies merely naming the fault; whereas the injunction is, go and prove to him how he has erred. Tell him his fault (ἔλεγξον). The verb means, first, to test, try, search out; therefore, to cross-examine with a view of convincing or refuting; thence to rebuke or chide. (Vincent) It seems counter intuitive to Christian manners, but the same Greek construction is found in Titus 1:13b where we read; Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith. 

This design is that the person would “hear” and “hearken.” This is to agree with what is said. This is the best case scenario; the person acknowledges what they have done and there is reconciliation. We then read, But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. This is God’s way of applying the pressure to the person so that they are brought face to face with the facts in the case. 

Common sense tells us that if a person has to come to this point, they will probably only acknowledge their offense under pressure and the chance of it being genuine is diminished. It is from here a small step to stage three, And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. This is direction also for what would later come to be known as “church discipline.” However, the principals are still in play. If a person transgresses and does not repent — there is a stoppage of the process. There can be no going forward unless this situation is made right. If the person will not “hear” the church (refuses to hear Gk. parakousēi). Many papyri have examples for ignoring, disregarding, hearing without heeding, hearing aside (para-), hearing amiss (Robertson). what should we do?”… let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican (Matthew 18:17).  

Agreeing With God

God’s route of forgiveness has never altered. I see this reality in 1 John 1:9 and have the example of David in the Old Testament. Nathan the prophet confronted David by using a simple story to touch his heart. God met him right where he was. The result? And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. There was a point when David was angry at the outcome of the story, but suddenly hears the voice of God in the mouth of Nathan. His reaction? And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. God’s reaction to David’s acknowledgement,  And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. 

David deserved death, but because he acknowledged his sin, God put away his sin. He would have to face the consequences of his actions, but he was back in a right standing with God. No more running. No more hiding. No more cover-ups, lying, or evading. He confessed; the world knew it; and he could go forward. What a glorious thing! In the writing of Psalm 51 his repentance became as notorious as his sin. As he ran he slowly dried up inside; but he cried out to God and found a faithful God that forgives and puts away sin. God restored the joy of his salvation. Confession; that is, agreeing with what God has said about our sin is the first step back to Him for the sinner or the fallen saint. No matter how difficult it is and no matter how many naysayers line up to throw the first stone, we have to keep our eyes on God. Forget what people think and say. What has God said? If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Amen.

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