There are many verses that assure us that if we seek God we will find Him (Mat. 7:7-8; Deut. 4:29). However, there are other verses that warn us that there are some sinners who seek God and not find Him:
- “Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord.” (Proverbs 1:28-29)
Proverbs makes it seem that some seekers are disqualified by their rebellious past. Hosea had echoed a similar message:
- When they go with their flocks and herds to seek the Lord, they will not find him; he has withdrawn himself from them. They are unfaithful to the Lord. (Hosea 5:6-7)
I too have been unfaithful to the Lord. What assurance do I have that I will “find Him?” When we come acknowledging our sins, we can be assured that He will receive us (1 John 1:9-10). Despite his chilling warning, Hosea also affirmed this several verses later:
- “I will go away and return to My place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.” (Hosea 5:15, NASB)
Without acknowledging guilt, we are still in rebellious denial. We come to God only for His help and afterwards, we turn our back. Instead, when we “earnestly seek” God, we seek Him in truth from our inmost being. This entails confession of sin. Anything less is disingenuous and offensive before God. So when we come to Him, we must bring sincere words of truth:
· Return, Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall! Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously.” (Hosea 14:1-2)
How do we return to God? With words of truth – words of confession of sin! If sin had been our problem, then confession of sin must be part of the answer.
For Jesus, repentance and confession of sin had always been the answer:
- “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” (Luke 17:3-4)
Without confession and repentance, there could be no true forgiveness and restoration, only dis-fellowship:
- “If they still refuse to listen [and confess their sin], tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 18:17-18)
According to Jesus, what applied to the church also mirrored the heavenly reality. A refusal to confess real sins before the church was like a refusal to confess before God. In both cases, restoration to relationship depended on confession and repentance.
In order to demonstrate the necessity for humble confession, let’s take an example. Your friend has destroyed your reputation by gossiping behind your back. Meanwhile, whenever he sees you, he brings you expensive gifts. Will the gifts suffice to maintain the relationship? No! Nothing short of sincere confession (and perhaps also a willingness to repair the damage) can bring real reconciliation.