Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. (Proverbs 28:13)
Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, explored the theme of guilt and the power of mercy through reading Proverbs 28:13 in his devotional.
A bedrock of Christianity is the fact that our God is a forgiving God; we all mess up. The Bible explicitly says "Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins." (Ecclesiastes 7:20). God knows that we sin.
Although everyone sins, this does not mean that there are not real consequences for that sin. Warren suggests that the guilt inspired by unresolved sin is crippling.
"God wants far better for your life than that. You don't want to live with guilt. And here's an important truth to always hang on to: You don't have to", he said.
Rather than living weighed down by guilt, Warren suggests that we are free to live a life filled with promise and hope. He is a redeeming God who can bring good out of our sinful past.
In order to move on beyond guilt, Warren suggests that we must admit to God that we have made a mistake.
"It doesn't surprise him. And it won't change his perception of you."
Rather than condemnation, Warren lays out how God will respond:
- God forgives instantly: it is not a process, rather the moment you confess your sin, God forgives you.
- God forgives freely: We do not need to earn his forgiveness or pay penance in any way.
- God forgives completely: The sin is gone absolutely once you have confessed it.
If you are living in guild, he said, "you'll likely perpetuate whatever problem you have." The negative cycles will continue until you learn to rely on the mercy of Jesus and admit the sins you have committed.