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Confession and Reality
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Confession and Reality

Teshuvah and Spiritual Prosperity...

The following entry discusses the nature of repentance. It's my hope that this will encourage you to "return to the LORD and listen to His Voice" (Deut. 30:2).

Sin is not the result of not understanding what is right, but rather of being unwilling to understand such, and therefore is the refusal to do what is right. It is not the result of ignorance but rebellion. Sin doesn't say "I can't" but rather "I won't," and therefore it is a matter of the will, the heart, the secret desires of the soul... Just as grace is inaccessible for someone who refuses to be honest with himself, so is forgiveness. If a person refuses to confess the truth about his condition, salvation itself is impossible, since God literally cannot save the soul that denies its need for Him. Therefore the Scripture does not vainly declare: "Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy."

מְכַסֶּה פְשָׁעָיו לא יַצְלִיחַ
 וּמוֹדֶה וְעזֵב יְרֻחָם

me·khas·seh · fe·sha·av · lo · yatz·li·ach
u·mo·deh · ve·o·zeiv · ye·ru·cham

"Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy."

(Prov. 28:13)

Hebrew Study Card

A person who "conceals" or "covers" his sin denies it, either by outright disavowal or by explaining it away by offering self-deceptive excuses. This person simply cannot prosper – in the spiritual sense of the word – because he is not living in reality... Indeed, his conscience is burdened with a "secret ban," an inner voice of condemnation that must be suppressed and squelched. It is only the person who comes to the light, who acknowledges the truth of his sin and who is anxious to be free of its effects, who will be shown mercy (i.e., rachamim (רַחֲמִים), which comes from the word rechem (רֶחֶם), "womb").

Note that God alone has the prerogative to cover or atone for sin, as an expression of His grace, but it is never fitting for someone to atone for his own sin in order to exonerate himself. God's anger over sin is not appeased when sin is minimized, dismissed, excused, or rationalized away (though the LORD delights when we overlook the offenses of others). This is because all sin is an offense against God and represents a breach of the relationship between the sinner and God. Your sin, in other words, hurts not only yourself and other people, but most significantly, it wounds the very heart of God Himself by causing a breach or separation in your relationship with Him. Therefore we see Yeshua forgiving others for sins they have committed against other people as if He were the offended party in the sin. As C.S. Lewis wrote, "He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured. He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly concerned, the person chiefly offended in all offenses. This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin" (Mere Christianity).

In this evil world, it may sometimes seem that crime "pays," but certainly not before the Divine Presence, and in the world to come, every word and deed will be fully accounted before the bar of God's justice and truth. But even in this world, the sinner is secretly haunted by his conscience; he is driven to madness, hidden despair, and lives in dread and anxiety over the truth he conceals... It has been said that the problem with "getting away with it" is that you indeed "get away with it," meaning that your sin will follow you as doggedly as your own shadow in this world... Ultimately sin is a form of cowardice, since it hides in fear from the light of truth.

I mentioned recently that one of the reasons God revealed the Ten Commandments was because it was His way of saying, "I know who you really are, I see you..."  This is why the people drew back in terror, because they realized that God saw the inner condition of their heart, exposed it, and shined the light of moral truth upon it.  Nonetheless it is a great and ongoing credit to the Jewish people that they were willing to receive the revelation at Sinai, since it demonstrates that they were genuinely willing to be honest with themselves. Despite their many subsequent failures, they still revered the truth of God's Torah and meticulously preserved the revelation for future generations (Rom. 3:1-2).

A person who denies or excuses his sin simply cannot prosper – in the spiritual sense of the word – because he refuses to live in reality... Confessing the truth about yourself – owning your behavior, taking personal responsibility, refusing to blame others, and so on, leads to real prosperity, spiritual blessing and true inner peace.

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