We all will sin; let’s just get that on the table right now (Rom. 3:23). But after you’ve sinned, then what do you do? Do we try to explain away our sin by blaming it on someone else (Gen. 3)? Do we try to convince God (and ourselves) that we actually did do what we were supposed to do, despite it being obvious that we haven’t (1 Sam. 15)? Or do we humbly accept our fault as being just, brush ourselves off and make it right? Hopefully the latter.

But while that’s the optimal thing to do, the first two are the ones we most often want to do. Instead of making it right through repentance, we try to ignore the fact that it even happened in the first place. That’s, in part, what Jesus would call the “unforgivable sin,” or the “sin against the Holy Spirit” (Mark 3:28-29) – the inability to acknowledge God’s authority and rule, which would lead us to never see the need for repentance. This idea is expressed in a different form when we see David talk about “the great transgression” (Psalm 19:13), which is described earlier in that verse as “presumptuous sins,” or the presuming of ourselves that we are greater than we are. If we have presumptuousness in our hearts, or if we fail to acknowledge the Lordship and power of God, then accepting any form of blame for our wrongdoings is impossible.

So where does repentance begin then? It begins chiefly with Silence!Full and unresistant penitence begins with humbling yourself, accepting what you’ve done, and not talking! I’m raising my hand right next to yours, but how many times have we done exactly the opposite? How many times do we do this in our regular human relationships, such as when we are caught in a lie, or approached by someone else about a sin, and we immediately start pouring out the words to explain ourselves or weasel out of it? “I didn’t do that” or “that wasn’t me” followed by a string of 2 million plus words designed to protect ourselves. Blah blah blah blah blah. 

What does Solomon say? “The voice of a fool comes through many words” (Eccl. 5:3). Yea that’s it, but I’m looking for another one. How about, “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise” (Prov. 10:19). Closer. Here it is: “For in many dreams and in many words there is emptiness. Rather, fear God” (Eccl. 5:7). Bingo. Here’s the admonition from Solomon, that instead of talking-talking-talking-talking-talking when we’ve done something wrong…how about we just fear God? Won’t that take care of the problem? It will if it’s done honestly and coupled with repentance!

The parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector is a perfect illustration of this principle (Luke 18:9-14). In reading those five verses, note especially how many words the Pharisee uses to “worship God” (really, he’s just worshipping himself). Actually, I’ll go ahead and count them for you: 33, at least in my Bible (NASB). How many does the tax collector use? Seven. And yet, he’s the one who “went down to his house justified.” What’s the secret? Sincerity, humility, and honesty. 

Brethren, we try too hard to explain ourselves to a God that already knows who we are and what we’ve done. We don’t have to put our “spin” on what we did or why we did it, God already knows. Don’t waste your breath trying to “explain” away why you’ve done wrong; the truth of the matter is you’ve just simply done something wrong. Try this next you pray (I will too). Instead of spending 30 minutes defending yourself to God, simply say “I have sinned. I need your mercy. I repent of my sin. Help me to do better.” And MEAN IT. I guarantee it will make a difference.

Last modified: January 30, 2019