“I Have Sinned”
“I Have Sinned”
Sermon by Thomas Thornhill Jr
In our lives, this is a needed statement if we are to have a hope of spending eternity with God. In order for one to become a Christian, there must be an acknowledgment that one is as sinner (NOTE: This is not the “good confession”, but it is part of repentance) or else why obey gospel? Acts 22:16 speaks of washing away our sins in baptism. We cannot do this without acknowledging, “I have sinned”.
And as an erring child of God, we need to repent (which includes acknowledging, “I have sinned” – Acts 8:22, 1 John 1:9), to be forgiven. While the words of our title are not expressed in these passages, it is clear we need to understand them.
BUT, the expression, “I have sinned” is found at least 19 times in the Bible. It was uttered numerous times, on different occasions, often with disturbing results. Tonight, I want to notice some of these passages and the results.
- Exodus 9:27, 10:16, more than once, when Moses confronted Pharaoh with various plagues (7th plague of hail, and 8th plague of locusts), he would call for him and say, “I have sinned” requesting the plagues stop, and offering to submit.
- BUT, as soon as the plague subsided, he would change his mind and revert to his rebellious ways against God.
- How many today, when they are facing dire consequences because of their sins, turn to God at that moment, confessing their sins? They may even make promises that they will change if He delivers them. BUT as soon as the immediate distress subsides, they revert to their old ways.
After the attacks of 9/11/2000, there was an increase in church attendance. But it was short lived and look at where we are today – more depraved than ever.
- God will NOT accept this type of repentance.
Exodus 14:26-31 – after the 10th plague, Israel was let go, but shortly thereafter, Pharaoh changed his mind again and pursued Israel. In the Red Sea, God destroyed the pursuing army showing His judgment.
We must be faithful to the end – Revelation 2:10, Hebrews 10:38-39, He has no pleasure in those who draw back.
- Numbers 22 records the desire of the king of Moab to curse Israel after witnessing numerous victories by them. He seeks to hire Balaam, a prophet of God, to curse Israel. We know the account – Balaam asks permission to God and is denied by the LORD. But he keeps asking and eventually is given permission with a stern warning about what he would say.
- When he finally goes, we read about Balaam and the donkey. Numbers 22:22 begins to tell this story. The anger of the LORD prompts Him to send an angel to stand in the way of his travels. Balaam’s donkey saves his life and eventually he is found talking to his donkey. Then he sees the angel of the Lord. Numbers 22:34, he says, “I have sinned” and offers to turn back. He is permitted to go, but is strongly warned to only say what he is told (which blessed Israel).
However, we know from following events that he was not sincere. It did not take him long to look for a way around the instructions of the LORD.
- Many today, knowing they are acting contrary to God’s will confess, “I have sinned”, but they don’t really mean it. It is evident by their behavior. It doesn’t take long for them to go on doing whatever they want to do. Matthew 7:21-23 warns about professing belief in Him and not obeying Him.
- Israel has inherited Canaan and have been commanded to subdue the land. Jericho has fallen, but with instructions that everything was consecrated and belonged to the LORD.
Achan, saw a few items that he wanted and took them and hid them in his tent.
As a result of their great victory, they proceed with a much smaller army to attach Ai, but they are defeated and 36 men of Israel are killed. Israel is spiritually devastated. The LORD tells Joshua there is sin in the camp. Lots are cast and they make their way down to Achan and his family.
- Joshua 7:20-21 – Called upon by Joshua to give glory to God and confess. We find that Achan says, “I have sinned” and confesses what he had done.
As a result he and his family are stoned to death. Consequences in his situation showed that it was too late.
- Many today only confess their sins after they are caught. Usually, there are consequences in place. Sometimes people confess hoping to escape their consequences, but that typically doesn’t happen. Perhaps one will show mercy (God does), but often mercy doesn’t change the damage that has been done.
- One day we will stand before God and give an accounting for our lives. If we are unprepared it will be too late. Hebrews 9:27 warns us we die and then face judgment. Matthew 25:46 is the result of those who confess wrongs (and make excuses) to no avail.
- One more thought. It is POSSIBLE to be genuinely repentant after you are caught and confess your sins to be genuine (God knows your heart), BUT there will always be doubt and it is not unreasonable for others to expect you to prove that (cf. 2 Corinthians 7:11). When possible, we OUGHT to give the benefit of the doubt to one who repents (cf. Luke 17:4 – one sins and repents 7 times in a day, forgive him). I think of the multitudes of problems because we won’t do this.
IV. King Saul –
- When Saul was appointed Israel’s first king, he demonstrated humility. But it didn’t take long for him to lose that. He began to be presumptuous and did things contrary to God’s will. 1 Samuel 13 records him offering an unlawful sacrifice which resulted in his dynasty ending with him.
- Then in 1 Samuel 15, he is commanded to completely destroy the Amalekites. He did MOST of what God commanded, but they spared the best of the animals and even the King.
- When Samuel confronted Saul about this, he began making excuses. Samuel rebuked him and said that because of his disobedience God had rejected him as king. Then in 1 Samuel 15:22-24, Saul said, “I have sinned” and admits he had transgressed the commands of God. He ALSO made excuses (whether legitimate or not), and begged forgiveness. But it was too late. 1 Samuel 15:30, he repeats it.
Later in 1 Samuel 26:21, knowing he was wrong to pursue David and is caught, he again says, “I have sinned” and backs off momentarily. But it is not long before he is back to his old ways and pursuing David as an enemy.
- Again, you have another example of “after the fact” confession. But in addition to that, you have adding excuses. Furthermore, in the latter example, you have superficial confession, as it is not long before one returns to his old ways (that is not true repentance. It is simply saying, “I’m sorry” – cf. 2 Corinthians 7:11)
Seeking to justify your sins with excuses is not acceptable. Nor is repeated utterances, when not accompanied by sincere repentance. There are a handful of passages that deal with excuses in scripture. God does not accept excuses, and hence they do not change consequences. He did not accept the excuses of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:11-13), nor has He since.
There is not a direct passage dealing with making excuses after the fact, but what the Bible does say is clear. Romans 1:20, to who deny God in this world are without excuse.
John 15:22 – refusing to heed God’s instructions, “Now they have no excuse for their sins.”
Finally, consider 1 John 1:8-10, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
V. Judas –
- Matthew 26:14-16, finds Judas willing to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Matthew 27:3-4,
realizing he was wrong, tried to take back what he had done. He goes to the chief priests and elders and says, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood”. But they would have nothing to do with it. As a result, Judas threw down the coins and went and hanged himself.
- There could be genuine remorse here, but he dealt with it wrongly. Judas was unwilling to forgive himself and took care of his situation in a wrong way.
- We may know we have sinned and genuinely admit it (with no excuses), but because of what we have done, we think there is no hope. We feel unworthy (and perhaps we are), and thus we do not allow ourselves to deal properly with our sins.
We must learn that no matter what sins we are guilty of, if we repent and confess, we will be forgiven (Acts 8:22, 1 John 1:9).
VI. David –
- We now come to David’s sin with Bathsheba, and the ensuring coverup which led to many more sins. 2 Samuel 12 records Nathan coming to David with a parable about a wealthy man taking his neighbor’s only sheep to feed a friend. After the well-known, “You are the man” indictment, 2 Samuel 12:13 records David saying, “I have sinned.” As a result, God forgave him, but there were serious consequence he had to deal with.
- Here we find a genuine confession and repentance. Notice in the text, NO EXCUSES. David is remorseful and ready to accept the consequences of his actions. We know of his remorse from Psalms 51, 6, 38, 32, etc. Psalm 41:4, as David is asking for the LORD’s mercy, he even notes again, “I have sinned against You.”
- Later in his life, contrary to God’s commands, he would number the people. 2 Samuel 24:10 & 17 both find David repenting. It says, his heart condemned him. He goes to God ready to accept whatever He says. He does face punishment. In all these things, David is a man after God’s own heart, because of his heart.
- In David, we find genuine confession. No excuses and a realization that when damage has been done, it is not his fault, but yours. This is part of making things right and a part of true repentance. Will you face your consequences for your sins?
VII. The Prodigal Son –
- Our final example. Luke 15 records this ungrateful son demanding his inheritance early and then he goes and wastes it. When he has sunk as low as he could, (that “came to himself” moment), he realizes he only has one way to go and begins to make things right, INCLUDING confessing his sins (Luke 15:18). When he returns to his father, pleading for mercy, he says, “I have sinned” (Luke 15:21), the father is rejoicing that his lost son has returned.
- This is a parable about God and our sins. He is waiting for us to return to Him. If we will repent and confess, He will forgive and receive us back with great rejoicing in heaven. (Again 1 John 1:9)
- This again is genuine confession. No excuses and a willingness to accept consequences and REAL change in one’s life.
We are all sinners (though we should not be living in sin), and when we do sin we need to repent and confess that we are sinners. We need to say to God (and at times to others), “I have sinned”. Then move forward, having learned from it. But when you do confess, HOW do you mean it? Think about it.