Study 7 THE PROMISE OF MERCY FOR REPENTANT SINNERS
GREAT PROMISES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
by Francis Dixon
(Key verse: Proverbs 28:13)
The ugliest thing in the world is sin. In spite of what some so-called wise philosophers, psychologists and theologians say, sin is a reality: no-one but a fool will deny this plain fact. The Bible says that “fools mock at making amends for sin” (Proverbs 14:9) but it’s certain that no sane person will do so. Sin is a stark reality for three reasons: first, because observation says so. We only have to follow the national news to be reminded that sin is a glaring reality because every day we read and hear of crime, war, divorce, broken hearts and homes, and death. Experience also says that sin is a reality. There is no need to read a newspaper to be convinced about its reality; all we have to do is to look into our own heart and we shall find that it’s unclean (Isaiah 64:6; Jeremiah 17:9). But sin is also a reality because God says so – look up and compare Romans 3:10; 3:23; 5:12. The problem which each of us faces is: How can I get rid of my sins? In our key verse two solutions are suggested – man’s way, which is false and therefore futile; and God’s way, which is true and therefore successful.
1. HOW MAN TRIES TO GET RID OF SIN
We are clearly told that man tries to get rid of sin by covering it up – “He who conceals his sins…” There are three ways in which men and women try to cover up their sins:-
- 1. By denying them. Very early in life children begin to lie about the things they have or have not done: they deny their sins. Cain tried to do this (Genesis 4:8-10); Rachel denied her sin and in this way hoped to cover it up (Genesis 31:19-33); Ananias and Sapphira committed a grievous sin and tried to cover it up by telling a lie (Acts 5:1-11). No amount of denying sin will get rid of it.
- 2. By excusing them. People sometimes say that they commit sin because they can’t help it, but the fact that they can’t help sinning does not enable them to get rid of their sin. This is just an admission on their part of the fact of sin and of the power of sin that is too strong for them.
- 3. By minimising them. If you speak to some people about their sin they immediately reply, ‘But I’m not nearly as bad as So-and-So…’ and by saying this they have sought to minimise their sin. But however much we try to make out that our sin is not bad or not great, it is still sin. We have still broken God’s law and come short of His demands and we are guilty before Him.
All our attempts to cover our sins are absolutely futile – “He who conceals his sins does not prosper…” One reason for this is that it is impossible to hide from God. However much we try to conceal our sins God can see through every human covering – look up and compare Proverbs 15:3; Jeremiah 23:24; Matthew 10:26; Hebrews 4:13. We are all sinners in His sight and nothing can be hidden from Him; and because of our sin we are guilty before Him and are under condemnation – look up and compare Numbers 32:23; Isaiah 53:6; Ecclesiastes 7:20; John 3:18; Romans 6:23. How, then, can we get rid of our sin? This is the big question!
2. HOW GOD GETS RID OF SIN
God’s method of dealing with sin is to put it right away, to remove our sins from us “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12), to make the sinner “as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18); to put all our sins behind His back (Isaiah 38:17); to blot out our transgressions (Isaiah 43:25); and to hurl all our sins “into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19). God’s method of dealing with sin is to free the sinner from the guilt and the bondage of sin. He is able to do this because Christ died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3); because He became our Sin-bearer (Isaiah 53:5-6); because of Calvary! He therefore promises to set us free from the penalty and the power of sin. He says, “whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy”. This statement indicates three steps which we must take to be freed from our sin.
- 1. We must acknowledge our sin. In other words, we must admit that we are sinners by nature (Psalm 51:5); and that we are sinners by practice (Romans 3:23). We must come before God in the words of David (Psalm 51:4); in the words of Peter (Luke 5:8); and in the words of the Prodigal (Luke 15:21). This acknowledgement of sin must be sincere and it must be made with true penitence – look up Psalm 51:1-12.
- 2. We must confess our sin. This is more than acknowledging our sins, for confession involves specific naming of our wrong-doings before God, and if we have sinned against others it involves confession to them. Two verses need to be studied in this connection: the first is 1 John 1:9 and the second is James 5:16; note that confession sometimes involves and requires restitution – look up Luke 19:8. The moment we confess our sins to the Lord He guarantees to forgive them. This should also be true when we have to confess to one another.
- 3. We must forsake our sin. This means that we must give up our sins in true repentance. We must renounce them (Isaiah 55:7). The Lord Jesus came not to save us in our sins but from our sins (Matthew 1:21). Compare Hebrews 7:25.
Man’s way is to cover his sin and this results in guilt, bondage, separation from God, and in the end – hell; God’s way is that we should uncover our sins by acknowledgment, by confession and by renunciation; and when we do this He frees us from the guilt of sin and releases us from its bondage. He gives grace to live a holy life and in the end to live with Him in heaven – look up 1 John 1:7-10; 1 John 2:1-2.