“I was wr-wr-wrong.”
There are at least three things which you cannot tell a man: how to drive, how to do his job and how to raise his kids. Pride makes it so hard for us to say we are wrong. However, just as you cannot save someone who does not realize that he is drowning, you cannot receive God’s forgiveness until you humble yourself before God and realize and admit that you need it. After Adam sinned, did he go running to God to apologize? No – first he sewed leaves together to try to cover up their shame so no one would notice he was naked (are you involved in a cover up of some wrong?), then they hid from God to avoid the situation (are you avoiding someone you have offended?), finally when that all failed, he then blamed God himself for giving him the woman who got him into their predicament (are you blaming God for some predicament you are in?). Adam never did own up to it until God called them out onto the carpet. Only then did God kill the animals for them and covered them with the skins. God’s forgiveness requires our admission of wrong and declaration of need. He paid the price already for you when he died on the cross. But just like Adam let God clothe him, you need to let God to clothe you in his Son’s righteousness by appropriating, i.e. accepting / receiving, his salvation and then thanking him from that day forward for what he did for you.
Godly sorrow brings repentance
2 Cor 7: 8 For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. 9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. 11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. 12 Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you. 13 Therefore we were comforted in your comfort: yea, and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all.
As we ponder God’s character from the above passage, I wonder if God would answer our signature question below in the following way…
Who are you Lord?
I AM the God who is true, just and righteous and desire you to be righteous in all your dealings in my name just as I am righteous. I hate hypocrisy to be named among my people. A lying tongue should not be named among your attributes. I hate pride which prevents you from admitting your errors; therefore, humble yourself before me and I will lift you up. Confess your sins one to another so that you may be healed. Don’t worry about your public profile being tarnished, if you are wrong; admit it before whoever you have mistreated. If you cover up your sin, I cannot forgive you, and we cannot move forward; for I cannot even hear the prayers of those who hold sin in their hearts. If you confess your known sins, I am faithful and just to forgive your sin and cleanse you from all the other sins which you do not even realize you are doing. Do not be like a kid who says…
“It’s not my fault”
As many of the world’s cultures are based on a personal honor system or averting being shamed, the Biblical concept of admitting one’s personal sin or guilt for forgiveness is difficult to convey to them. In PNG where I work, a person can be sued simply by revealing another person’s indiscretions. One case I know of, the expatriate whistle blower had to flee the country for fear of lawsuit by exposing the fact that his employee was stealing from the company. In Christianity, you cannot have a relationship with God and experience his forgiveness until you confess that you are WRONG and He is RIGHT; that you are SINFUL and He is HOLY, RIGHT and JUST to punish you. When churches lose sight of this concept, and allow sin to go un-confronted among their congregation, its hypocrisy level in the eyes of the community increases and thus they have no say as to what righteousness is in their witness to the unsaved. This is what Rom 2:4 says regarding the Jews and 1 Cor 15:34 to us Christians. What is the first thing that kids say when they get into trouble? “It’s not my fault.” Excuses – excuses it is never their fault. If you do not teach your children to admit their wrongs, they will grow up avoiding personal responsibility to accept the consequences of their actions and blame others, their environment, society or even you as parents. Just as our ancestor Adam did that in the Garden of Eden. We are our father’s children and thus do the same thing as he did.
Humble yourself before God
“Godly sorrow” leads to salvation, but “worldly sorrow” leads to death. What is the difference? Godly sorrow means I want to make things right at all personal cost. It freely admits wrong and the need to change my way because it is the right thing to do. Worldly sorrow is being sorry that you got caught, shame, embarrassment, which leads to revenge/ retaliation or conversely suicide e.g. “Seppuku” in Japan’s early days. This negative reaction is reflected around the world today in other ways such as in PNG’s payback system. Godly sorrow does not deflect blame or explain away, defend itself, deny, justify, but rather accepts responsibility, ownership, confesses, restores by asking forgiveness and takes pains to assure it won’t happen again. Godly sorrow humbles oneself before God to receive the power and filling from the Holy Spirit who gives even more grace to stay humble.
More to come,