From hidden sin to open forgiveness

The cost of confession and repentance that still sets people free today.

The cost of confession and repentance that still sets people free today.

Proverbs 28:13 – He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will be shown compassion.

In order to be forgiven, one must recognize that a transgression has occurred, confess or admit to the fault, and then forsake (to let loose, depart from) that practice. This is not just a principle with God, but between people, as well.

Numbers 5:6-7 – “Say to the people of Israel, When a man or woman commits any of the sins that men commit by breaking faith with Yahweh, and that person is guilty, he shall confess his sin which he has committed; and he shall make full restitution for his wrong, adding a fifth to it, and giving it to him to whom he did the wrong.”

This demonstrates how wronging someone else is also an infraction against the Almighty. This is why the Law, the Ten Commandments, has commands related to God and to others. When we wrong someone else according to the Law (murder, adultery, theft, lying, coveting) we are transgressing against God.

When David committed adultery with Bathsheba, his heart became grieved that he had not only acted wickedly, but that he had sinned against a holy God.

Psalm 51:1-4 – Be gracious to me, God, according to your faithful love; according to your abundant compassion, blot out my rebellion. Completely wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. For I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me. Against you ​– ​you alone ​– ​I have sinned and done this evil in your sight. So you are right when you pass sentence; you are blameless when you judge.

God has designed people to struggle under the weight of their secret rebellion. The guilt of wrongdoing can directly affect the emotional well-being of an individual. As David wrote extensively about the effects of sin and forgiveness in his life, we can learn and identify with his struggles of unconfessed sin.

Psalm 32:3-5 – When I kept silent, my bones became brittle from my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was drained as in the summer’s heat. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not conceal my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to Yahweh,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

But confessing the sin is only the first part. If we have wronged someone else, we must not only come clean about it, but we must make things right by them. Not only are we to forsake that wrongdoing, but we have to make restitution when possible. This was essentially the “mechanics” behind sacrificial offerings: it demonstrated that the individual recognized their sin and understood there was a cost to their actions. Once the offering was made to God, then the “offering” needed to be made to the one who was wronged. This kept accountability squarely where it belonged: on the guilty individual. Once this was accomplished, forgiveness from God and the wronged party would be a welcome release.

David also experienced this aspect of the confession/offering process.

Psalm 32:1-2 – How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How joyful is a person whom Yahweh does not charge with iniquity and in whose spirit is no deceit!

When we hold our sins closely hidden, we are, in effect, deceiving ourselves. According to the proverb stated at the outset of this study, we cannot prosper. As much as we won’t admit it, it affects us. It eats away slowly at our conscience, imperceptibly coloring other aspects of our being. In one sense, sin can be considered a disease, as in “dis-ease” within our emotional selves.

However, when we “come clean,” we are released from that burden. We most certainly will pay a price for doing so, but this is to be expected and welcomed as a natural outcome. As Zacchaeus proudly exclaimed upon his recognition of Messiah:

Luke 19:8 – But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, I’ll give half of my possessions to the poor, Lord. And if I have extorted anything from anyone, I’ll pay back four times as much.”

This was as Yeshua had intended, as this confession and restitution demonstrated the sincerity of Zacchaeus’ heart.

Luke 19:9-10 – “Today salvation has come to this house,” Yeshua told him, “because he too is a son of Abraham. “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”

The concept of salvation is much more than a spiritual condition; it is also an emotional release from the weight of hidden shame due to a life of unconfessed sin. When confession and repentance are sincere, the effects of true freedom are life-changing.

John 8:34, 36 – Yeshua responded, “Truly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. … So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.”

If you enjoy these daily articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

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