Steps to Christ
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 4: Confession
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Confession will not be acceptable to God without
sincere repentance and reformation. There must be
decided changes in the life; everything offensive to
God must be put away. This will be the result of
genuine sorrow for sin. The work that we have to
do on our part is plainly set before us: "Wash you,
make you clean; put away the evil of your doings
from before Mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do
well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the
fatherless, plead for the widow." Isaiah 1:16, 17. "If
the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had
robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing
iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die."
Ezekiel 33:15. Paul says, speaking of the work of
repentance: "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." 2 Corinthians 7:11. [p. 40]
When sin has deadened the moral perceptions, the
wrongdoer does not discern the defects of his
character nor realize the enormity of the evil he has
committed; and unless he yields to the convicting power
of the Holy Spirit he remains in partial blindness to
his sin. His confessions are not sincere and in earnest.
To every acknowledgment of his guilt he adds an
apology in excuse of his course, declaring that if it
had not been for certain circumstances he would not
have done this or that for which he is reproved.
After Adam and Eve had eaten of the forbidden
fruit, they were filled with a sense of shame and
terror. At first their only thought was how to excuse
their sin and escape the dreaded sentence of death.
When the Lord inquired concerning their sin, Adam
replied, laying the guilt partly upon God and partly
upon his companion: "The woman whom Thou gavest
to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat."
The woman put the blame upon the serpent, saying,
"The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat." Genesis 3:
12, 13. Why did You make the serpent? Why did You
suffer him to come into Eden? These were the questions
implied in her excuse for her sin, thus charging
God with the responsibility of their fall. The spirit
of self-justification originated in the father of lies
and has been exhibited by all the sons and daughters of
Adam. Confessions of this order are not inspired by
the divine Spirit and will not be acceptable to God.
True repentance will lead a man to bear his guilt
himself and acknowledge it without deception or
hypocrisy. Like the poor publican, not lifting up so
much as his eyes unto heaven, he will cry, "God be [p. 41] merciful to me a sinner," and those who do acknowledge
their guilt will be justified, for Jesus will plead
His blood in behalf of the repentant soul.
The examples in God's word of genuine repentance
and humiliation reveal a spirit of confession in
which there is no excuse for sin or attempt at
self-justification. Paul did not seek to shield himself;
he paints his sin in its darkest hue, not attempting to
lessen his guilt. He says, "Many of the saints did
I shut up in prison, having received authority from
the chief priests; and when they were put to death,
I gave my voice against them. And I punished them
oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to
blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I
persecuted them even unto strange cities." Acts 26:
10, 11. He does not hesitate to declare that "Christ
Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom
I am chief." 1 Timothy 1:15.
The humble and broken heart, subdued by genuine
repentance, will appreciate something of the love
of God and the cost of Calvary; and as a son
confesses to a loving father, so will the truly penitent
bring all his sins before God. And it is written, "If
we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive
us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
1 John 1:9.
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