Purchase the CD of this sermon.
The series That Makes Good Sense teaches from the book of Proverbs on the essential nature of godly wisdom to live life well.
More From This Series
I want to take you to a text this morning in the Book of Proverbs that will put you on the path to prosperity. Proverbs 20th verse 13 in our series on the Book of Proverbs, we’ve been pretty much looking at themes. This morning, we’re going to look at a single text on the path to prosperity, and here we have a recipe for godly prosperity. Proverbs 20th verse 13. If you’re familiar with the Bible at all, you’ll probably know this verse once we start to read it. He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. A soldier on the battlefield received a letter from his youngest daughter communicating her love and her best wishes for the soon and safe return of her father to home. The simple message read, “Daddy, I love you and I hope you get to live all your life.”
Those are wonderful wishes. Those are great desires and those wishes and those desires are exemplified in the God of the Bible who intends that all men and all women get to live all their lives. In fact, he sent his son expressly for that reason. Jesus tells us in John chapter 10 in verse 10 that he came into the world so that man might have life and that more abundantly. God wants us, contrary to popular opinion, God wants us to live all our lives in union and communion with him. God wants us to know prosperity as we live under his smile. God wants to fill up the 24 hours of our day with a sense of his presence and his purpose. I want to make it clear that God has not made his eternal mission to pop everyone’s balloon. God is not an ogre. Rather, he desires men and women to live healthily and wealthily, and this can be fined in heating and taking hold of the wisdom of the Book of Proverbs.
Let’s go back to chapter three. Just remind ourselves of the intent of this book. Intent of this book is to give us wisdom, to give us insight, to give us instruction regarding how life is to be lived successfully. Happy is the man who finds wisdom, verse 13, and the man who gains understanding for the result of gaining wisdom is this. For her proceeds are better than the prophets of silver, her gain than fine gold. She id more precious than rubies and all the things you may desire compare with her. Length of days is in her right hand, in her left hand, riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace. She that is wisdom is a tree of life to those who take hold of her and happy are all who retain her.
The wisdom of the Book of Proverbs would leave us healthy, wealthy and wise if we would but lay hold of its wisdom. It would be a veritable tree of life and that’s very strong symbolic language. The tree of life is to be found in the Book of Genesis and the tree of life is to be found in the regained heaven in the Book of Revelation. And so here in the Book of Proverbs, it is being used symbolically. The tree of life was lost in Genesis, but the author of Proverbs wants us to know that if we will heed its insight and take hold of its instruction, it will act as a tree of life until we reach paradise and that final tree of life.
The Book of Proverbs wants us to be prosperous, and Lady Wisdom has so many riches in her hand to give to those that seek her. And here is a verse on prosperity. He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes him will have mercy. The Hebrew word for prosper here in our tax means to thrive, to be well, to press through to success. God wants to break into our lives that we may break through to a new level of living. God wants us to be well in a world growing sick of life itself. God doesn’t just want us to survive, God wants us to thrive. This book will help us to manage the art of successful living and that is found in a right relationship with God and that right relationship with God cannot be had until our sins are uncovered and confessed.
By the way, when we talk about prosperity in the Old Testament, it includes the idea of health and wealth, but it goes beyond that. It’s an expanded idea. The idea of shalom is more than just peace and quiet in a literal sense. It’s a sense of wholeness, it’s a sense of wellbeing. And so this idea of prosperity in our tax includes the body but extends to the soul, includes this life but extends to the next life.
When we talk about health and wealth here and prosperity, we’re talking about more than money. Some people are so poor all they have got is money. They know the price tag on everything, but they know the value of nothing. When the Bible talks about prosperity, it even holds out the possibility that you can have nothing and yet possess all things. Second Corinthians six, first hand. Therefore, prosperity is knowing God and knowing the value of that relationship. Prosperity is friendship with God. Prosperity is treasure in heaven. Prosperity is victory over the grave. Prosperity is a clean conscience and peace of heart. Prosperity is the knowledge and confidence that God controls the ebe and flow of our very lives.
God wants us to be prosperous in that sense. Inwardly and outwardly, God would have us to be rich and here we have a recipe for godly prosperity. He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. There are two things we want to see here. We want to see the burden of concealed sin and we want to see the blessing of revealed sin. And by the way, I hope you’ve recognized from our tax that the only thing standing in the way of prosperity in its comprehensive meaning is us. God’s not standing in the way of our prosperity. God in fact wants to remove the things that stand in the way of our prosperity. It is us and our unconfessed, uncovered sin that is the obstacle, the barricade to the blessing of God. Sins that are covered up lead to blessings that are tied up. And if you and I want to unwrap the blessings of God, you and I need to untie ourselves from our love of sin.
This verse teaches us that if we cover our sins, we will not prosper by implication. It teaches us if we will uncover our sins, we will prosper. Let’s look at our text under these two thoughts, the burden of concealed sin and the blessing of revealed sin. The first portion of this verse, because it’s an antithetical verse, it’s an antithetical parallel proverb, which means that two things are set in contrast to each other. If you cover your sins, you’ll not prosper. If you’ll uncover your sins, you’ll have mercy. That’s the intent of the comparison. The first portion of the verse then makes it clear that sin unconfessed and uncovered diverts you and I from the path of prosperity.
If you and I want to know the blessing of God, if we want to live under his smile, if we want to know that things are right with heaven while we’re here on earth, you and I need to uncover our sin because concealed sin, covered sin is a burden. It’s a blockage to the blessing of God. The path to prosperity begins here by recognizing that if you’ll cover your sin, you won’t prosper. And that’s always a danger to us. There’s an old statement that says, “To err is human, to forgive is divine.”
Let me parody that a little. To err is human and to try to cover it up is human also. We have a great tendency to try and cover our sin. When sin first showed its face, remember, on earth in the Garden of Eden, even then it was disguised. The tempter came not as a creature of ugliness, but one of beauty. Satan didn’t come to Adam and Eve waving a red fly going, danger, danger, danger. No. Sin likes to mask its true nature and to hide its true identity. And as soon as Adam and Eve fell for the trickery of Satan and the serpent, isn’t it interesting that as soon as they sin, they tried to cover it up?
We know that they hid in the garden, God had to search them out. We know that when they stood before God in all their nakedness, they tried to cover their shame with leaves. And since then, men and women have conspired to cover up their sin with rags of self-righteousness and cloaks of deceit. Folks, the depth of man’s sinfulness is to be seen in the length to which he will go to hide the fact of his sinfulness. And this wise statement, this insight from the Book of Proverbs reminds us that is not the path to prosperity. That is the road to destruction. That’s a dead end where the blessing of God is not to be found because he who covers his sins will not prosper. That’s the burden of concealed sin. Men are slow to incriminate themselves. Men will go to great lengths to perjure their souls to protect the facade of in innocence.
And I want to illustrate that. I think the best way for me to show you this principle is to illustrate it from the life of Solomon’s father. The Book of Proverbs was primarily written by Solomon. Here he is along with the other sieges of Israel telling us, you know what? If you try to cover up your sin, if you don’t admit you’re a sinner, repent of it, and forsake it, you will not know God’s mercy. You will not lay hold of God’s blessing. And let me tell you, I know that from firsthand experience and I know that looking at our family tree. The roots of this sin, that is the sin of covering sin, goes deep into our history, and David’s a prime example of this and for a few moments I want you to follow me to Psalm 32, Psalm 51 and Second Samuel 12, and we’re going to see how David sought to cover up his sin.
Do you remember that he sinned by adultery when he slapped with Bathsheba? She fell pregnant, then he tried to cover up that sin by having her husband come home and sleep with his wife. But Uriah was such a loyal servant of David, he lay the king’s palace. So much so that David had to actually send him back to the battlefield with the instructions, put him up at the front line. And Uriah died, and so David was an adulterer and someone who was party to homicide. And for almost a year, if we put the timetable together, he tried to cover his sin up. Now, with Uriah dead, he brought Bathsheba to his home, quickly married her, masking the pregnancy. No one was to know that he was party to homicide. Uriah was simply a war statistic and he tried to cover up a sin and he didn’t prosper, by the way.
That was a horrible year in David’s life and he sewed the seeds of a better harvest in his children. In fact, when Nathan does confront him, he says, “The sword will not depart from your house” because David, he who covers his sin will not prosper. And if you read these texts that I’m going to take you to, you’re going to see that he tried to cover up his sin three ways. Number one, he tried to cover up his sin through silence. David had broken three of the 10 Commandments. He had killed someone, he had committed adultery and he had coveted another man’s wife. But David tried to keep the 11th commandment, thou shall not be found out, and he tried to cover it up through silence.
Look at Psalm 32 in verse three with me quickly. Psalm 32 in verse three, when I kept silent, my bones grew all through my groaning all the day long. Psalm 32 is a Psalm of confession. David is looking back after his sin had been exposed by Nathan and he looks back having sought God’s mercy. He talks about God’s mercy in verses one and two and he talks about what he had tried to do during that time and he said, “I tried to keep silent. I didn’t want to talk about my sin. I didn’t want to talk to anybody about my sin. I was neither going to confess it to a priest nor to God.” David tried to guide his conscience. David tried to silence the voice of conviction. In Psalm 51 verse three, he tells us that his sin was always before him. His conscience was nagging at him like one of those annoying neighborhood dogs. It continued to bark day and night in David’s life and he tried to muzzle it through silence.
David hid his guilt under cross-examination. He remained silent. In the courtroom of his conscience, he pleaded the fifth. “When I kept silent”, he said, “my bones grew old.” It didn’t work, but he tried it. By the way, it didn’t work. He tells us that lack of confession and where he sought to repress his guilt and not to come clean, produced emotional and physical effects in his life. His bones grew old. He groaned all the day long. He felt God’s hand heavy upon him. You won’t prosper in unconfessed sin. The way of the transgressor is hard, says the Book of Proverbs, and it was hard for David that year. He tried to cover it up with silence. He tried to kick his guilty conscience out the front door, but it ran around the side of the house, came in the back door in the form of depression, neurosis, ill health.
When things aren’t right with God, nothing’s right. You can eat the finest of food, dine in the best of restaurants. You can sleep between silk sheets, you can bath in marble baths. You can have all that David had, and yet he was miserable because he tried to cover up his sin through silence. And for almost a year he did it. He repressed all these physical emotional elements to his unconfessed sin. In fact, if he did break silence, my guess is he did it in self-justification, not self-judgment. If David did in his own mind answer the prosecution of a guilty conscience, he probably just broke the silence in defense of himself and maybe he said to himself and to his conscience, well, you know what? I’m human just like the next guy. I’m a red blooded meal. She’s a beautiful woman. She was naked. The sun was shimmering. You know what? You put yourself in my shoes. Wouldn’t you have done it?
When he broke the silence in self-defense, he maybe said to himself, you know what, I’m not going to obsess on this one sin which led to another sin because if you look at my life, I’m desired to have a heart after God. I’m the sweet samist of Israel. I’m not a bad guy. I’m not going to let this one stain blot the whole of the copy book of my life. Maybe wakening in the middle of the night, conscience barking, he says, hold on a minute. She shouldn’t have been undressed in public. Well, why am I carrying all this guilt? She burs some of the blame, if not all of the blame. I’m a red-blooded meal. She’s a beautiful woman. Here she is on the top of her condo, naked in the sunlight. She’s to blame.
But every time he opened his mouth to silence conscience, he robbed himself of peace and prosperity. He covered up through silence. It didn’t work, but he tried it and people are still trying it. People today continue to gag their conscience. They remove the very word sin from their vocabulary. Give it a new name. They re categorize their behavior. It’s a psychological hangup. It’s in my DNA. It’s part of my gene pool. I inherited it from my old man. You know what? It’s just who I am. And conscience is saying, no, it’s not what God intended you to be. Isaiah 5 verse 20 tells us that human beings are always in danger of calling evil good and good evil. Sometimes we guide our consciences by shifting the blame to others, taking the spotlight off ourselves. Didn’t Adam do that? Lord, what about that woman you give me? Eve had the apple first. We do that all the time. We shift to blame. Well, the government let me down. I didn’t have a good mum and dad. I was born in a bad neighborhood and therefore, you know what? When you understand me, then you’ll understand why I do what I do and you’ll give me a break.
We’re still doing this, trying to silence conscience. In fact, some years ago when I was living in LA, I came across an article by a psychologist in Los Angeles who conducted weekly seminars for women who had experienced or who were considering an extramarital affair. The purpose of the seminar was fourfold. Number one, it was to help the women develop covering excuses that a husband couldn’t check. Two, it was to help them resist the temptation to confess the infidelity. Number three, it was to help them be careful in choosing the right partner in an affair. And number four, it was to help them enjoy the relationship without feeling guilty. In fact, the last point was particularly popular. One lady confessed that her guilt had nearly robbed her of her health, but after the seminar she felt nearly guiltless because she had been told that she had a right to happiness. When I kept silent, my bones grew old. David tried to cover up through silence, through gagging his conscience. Secondly, David tried to cover up through Sanctimony.
Let’s go back to Second Samuel. David’s going to be called to the mat here by Nathan. Nathan comes at David from an interesting angle. He shares a story. Second Samuel 12 verse one. Then the Lord sent Nathan to David and he came to him and said to him, there are two men in one city, one rich and one poor. The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished and it grew up together with him and with his children. He had his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom and it was like a daughter to him. And a traveler came to the rich man. He refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare for the one way faring man who had come to him and he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.
David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die and he shall restore fourfold the lamb because he did this thing and because he had no pity. Okay, Nathan, tell me, who is he?” Verse seven, and Nathan said to David, “You are the man in the story. You are the man.” And Nathan goes on to say, “Hey David, God has given you the kingdom and wives and prosperity and all that your heart could desire, but you took another man’s wife and then you took another man’s life. You are the man in the story with all the riches of God’s blessing. You’re forfeiting them in your sin, which remains uncovered and unconfessed.”
But what strikes me is David’s Sanctimony. You see, he got aroused, he got angry, got all upset over this other person’s sin, blind to his own. It was serious to steal an animal, but far worse to steal another man’s wife. It was severe to kill a pet, far worse to slay a man. Then here was David with a real way sleeper in his own eye, quick to remove the speck from someone else’s. People are still doing it. People still try to cover up their sin by pointing and uncovering the sin in another man’s life. They’re quick to join the posse and become another hangman if only to throw others off the trail of their own corruptness. By pointing the finger to another, they take the spotlight from themselves and that is a great danger.
God guard our hearts from such hypocritical Sanctimony when we know all too well the sins of our own heart, the thoughts of our own mind, the actions of our own past life, and if we haven’t gone to God and got that cleanse through the blood of Jesus Christ, we will try to repress that guilt and we will try to cover that sin through silence or through Sanctimony. We’ll not talk about it, either to God or to man, and if we are going to talk, it’ll make us feel better by talking about another person’s sin.
I heard about a man in a church who happened to open one of the closets in the church, and to his surprise, he found five brand-new brooms in the broom closet. Now, this upset him because he had been reading the church bulletin and realized that the church hadn’t been making budget and so he decided to talk to one of the church administrators about the fact, you know what, where do we have this extra money to spend on brooms that are not even being used? Man said, “I really don’t know.” And he says, “In fact, you’re probably better talking to the senior pastor.” And so he makes an appointment. Again, he goes in, he makes his feelings known about the wastage. The pastor said, “Well, I really don’t know the answer to your question. Maybe we do a lot of sweeping round here. Maybe there was a sale on brooms. I don’t know, but I’ll tell you this, don’t fall out of fellowship over this. Calm down.”
Later on that week, the senior pastor was having coffee with the church treasurer, told him the story, recounted the episode. The church treasurer said, “Well pastor, that’s easy for me to understand because how would you feel if you saw everything you’d given to the church in this past year tied up in five brooms?” So easy for us to overlook our own disobedience, our own lack of commitment and point out the failures of others. And that’s the game that David played until Nathan called him to the mat. He tried to cover it up through silence. He tried to cover it up through Sanctimony, and finally he tried to cover it up through sacrifice.
Let’s go to Psalm 51 for this. This is interesting. David’s living on the wrong side of God’s blessing. He’s forfeiting the smile of God. He knows he’s in trouble, but he hasn’t got the humility or the contrition to go before God and confess his sin and throw himself upon the merciful nature and loving disposition of God. No, he tries to cover it up first by ignoring it, secondly, by pointing out the sins of others. And third, by making a show of religion. This is amazing.
He tries to cover it up through sacrifice because he admits here, look at verse 16, for do you not desire sacrifice or else I would give it? Do you not delight in burnt offerings? The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit and a broken and contrived heart. These, oh God, you will not despise implication. I brought you sacrifice and burnt offering, you despised it, God. It didn’t rid my conscience of its guilt. It didn’t cleanse my heart of its sin. It didn’t make the books right in heaven concerning my misdemeanors and mistakes and misdeeds. No, I sacrificed many times in this past year, but the one thing I didn’t give you was the thing you sought, a broken and contrived heart. I didn’t come seeking your forgiveness. I tried to cover up my sin by church attendance.
I can assume that David’s religious routine continued uninterrupted in the year between the act itself and the confession of it. In fact, you and I would be safe in betting that he probably redoubled his efforts to please God. He redoubled his giving, he redoubled his attendance, he redoubled his investment. He thought that he could atone for his sin through penitent acts of service. He thought he could whitewash his sin with a code of religious fervor, just as he thought he could apply the masking cream of indignation towards the sins of others. Yet David found, as he admits in Psalm 32 and Psalm 51, that his guilt remained, that his detachment from God was as real as ever. He sang the Psalms, but the melody was no longer in his heart. He had given God his hands in service, but he had not given God his heart in brokenness. He had a religion but he didn’t have a relationship with God.
Folks, it’s amazing how many people are in church to cover up their sins. You’d be surprised to realize how many people think that through church activity and good deeds that they can compensate for their wrongdoing, that somehow they can balance the scales through some kind of baptized community service, where they don’t worship God with sincerity and heart. They worship God as hypocrites, silent about their sin, righteous and moral crusades, busy about charitable and Christian work, but it’s all a facade. It’s all a mask. It’s trying to buy God off with a box of religious chocolates and it can’t be done.
You know the story in First Samuel 15 about Saul and the Amalekites and God had told him to go and obliterate the Amalekite culture, to keep nothing back. But they disobeyed. They kept the best sheep, they kept the best oxen. They knew they had done wrong. No doubt their conscience was speaking to them. But you know how they thought that [inaudible 00:28:50] sways their conscience, how they could fend off God’s anger? By taking the very sheep and oxen that they had kept in disobedience to God’s word and offering it back to God. And Samuel comes to Saul and says, “What’s the bleeding of the sheep?” And Saul says, “You know, we thought better than God. We thought, you know what? I know that God said not to do it, but we thought we could do it and we thought that God would be happy with us doing it if we give him the best of the flock.” And Samuel says, “God won’t be pleased in your burnt offerings. It is obedience that he wants.”
But here they were trying to cover up their mistakes and my deeds by religious fervency and yet people continue to do it today. They try to whitewash their sin through religious ritual and routine, yet they remain unbroken, unhumbled, and their sin remains unconfessed. When I was growing up as a boy in Belfast, we visited my mum’s mother who lived in a part of the city that dated back to the turn of the 20th century. These were older homes that had been built in the heyday of Belfast Industrial Revolution. They were brick homes with a brick backyard that was walled in. In fact, those houses didn’t receive a lavatory or toilet until about the 1950s or sixties, but they were dirty homes on the outside. There were not much to look at because they had been suited by the grime of the chimney pots that dotted those districts of Belfast. Plus they were at the heart of Belfast industry. And so the soot and the smog that would come from the factories that were near them covered these homes and their walls with dirty grime.
And one of the ways in which the people got to feel that there was a little color in their life was that they would whitewash their walls. They would just take a cheap white emulsion pint and they would dab it over their walls. And I often spent the Saturday doing that for my grandmother because as soon as they’d put one layer down, the soot and the smoke came and there was another film of grime and dirt, but they had this facade that things were clean when they whitewashed those walls. But if you’d had taken your finger nail and scraped it along those walls, you’d have gotten more dirt than paint. It was a white washing. There wasn’t a washing white. And it seems to me that David is warning us that God has a remedy for our sin that will wash us white, but if we don’t seek it in humility and in complete trust giving up any hope on ourselves or anything that we can do, you and I are in danger of white washing our sin to the satisfaction of ourselves and others, but to the dissatisfaction of God.
Remember how Jesus had it in for the religious leaders of his day? His scorn and his scathing comments were directed to the religious people of the culture, not the irreligious. They knew they were sinners. They made no bones about that. They didn’t try to hide that. Prostitutes painted their faces. They stood at the street corner. But the Pharisees, they whitewashed the wickedness of their hearts and religious actions. Jesus and Matthew 23 tells us that they were like whited sapele curves. They were like the graves outside the city of Jerusalem on the Kidron Valley on the slopes towards the Mount of Olives. They were white on the outside but on the inside, full of dead man’s bones.
Proverbs 20th verse 13 tells us, he who covers his sins will not prosper. That’s the burden of concealed sin. But what about the blessing of revealed sin? There’s a message of hope on the second half of this verse. If we do not seek God’s remedy and God’s redemption and we seek to cover our sins, we will not prosper. We will not know God and then we will not know that which he wants to give us. But if we will reveal our sin, confess it for sacred, I tell you what the Bible says here, we can find mercy. On the other side of man’s confession, he will find God’s compassion. This verse wants to remind us what man covers, God will uncover. What man uncovers, God will cover. That’s beautiful. The blessing of revealed sin.
And so for a few moments, I want to look at this text and go back to David and I want us to look at the three hinges quickly that open the gate to the road to blessing and the path to prosperity. This is a text that wants to put us on the path to prosperity and it begins by number one, acknowledging our sin. Proverbs 20th verse 13, whoever, however, confesses and forsakes them, that is the sin they have tried to cover, wall of mercy. To confess is to acknowledge, to recognize. Blessing begins with a relationship with God and a relationship with God begins with acknowledging that we are out of a relationship with God through our sin.We’ve got to agree with God about our sin. We’ve got to agree with God about the remedy for our sin. It’s not in silence, it’s not in sanctimony, it’s not in sacrifice. It’s in his mercy.
Listen to David in Psalm 32 in verse five, I acknowledge my sin to you and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said I will confess my transgression to the Lord and you forgive the iniquity of my sin. David is a walking talking example of what this verse is saying. For a time he tried to cover his sin, it got him nowhere. Then there came a point. In some sense, it was a forced confession, but then it became a real confession. When David came broken and contrived before God, he offered the sacrifice of a broken contrived heart. God accepted it. David acknowledged his sin and the Bible says he had his inequity removed.
In fact, David was so real about the true nature of his sin and the necessary confession that in Psalm 32, he uses three words to describe his sin. In Psalm 32 in verse one, he uses the word transgression and he uses the word sin and in verse two, he uses the word iniquity. The word iniquity means to twist, to pervert. David realized that he had taken the act of sexual love between a husband and wife and he had perverted it into an act of unvarnished lust that led to murder and intrigue and trickery. David’s life was twisted and perverted. He used the word transgression, that means to deliberately rebel against God. It has the picture of walking through the woods, coming to a fence and on that fence is a notice, trespassers shall be prosecuted. Blood of arrogance. You step over the fence and into the field and at that moment you become a trespasser. At that moment you have committed a transgression. You have denied the rights of others, you have flaunted their authority.
And David came to a fence, thou shall not commit adultery. He jumped over that fence. He did not give God his plea as he fought his authority and he became a transgressor and he became a sinner. The word sin means to miss the mark, to fall short, and David had fallen short of God’s glory and God’s glorious intentions for him. David shows us the way here this morning. If you’ve come into this service and you know that things are not right with you and God, either as a believer or an unbeliever, the path to prosperity of body and soul, this life and the next, is a path that begins at the turnstile of repentance where you begin to acknowledge that you have fallen short of God’s glory, that you have offended his holiness, that you bear the just punishment of his justice, that you in your arrogance have attacked his character and you confess that sin.
You come to God in absolute brokenness and entrust, realizing if you’re going to be saved and forgiven this morning, it will be an act of sheer mercy. Sheer mercy. And yet that doesn’t come easily to us. When we do something noble and kind, we’re more than happy to accept the credit. When we do something wrong, we’re stubborn of heart to admit the wrong and that’s why these wise men have looked at life for so long are saying to this emerging generation in Israel, look, let me tell you fellows, if you’re going to cover your sin, you’re not going to prosper it, but if you’ll confess it, forsake it, God will keep covenant in terms of mercy. The man returned to his car in the parking lot. He found a note under the windshield wiper. The note read as follows. Quote, “I just smashed into your car. The people who have witnessed the collision are watching me. They probably think that I’m writing down my name and address. I’m not.”
That was all that was on the note. Can you imagine that? I can because in a lesser or greater degree, I’ve done that, you’ve done that. We don’t like to be found out. We squirm under the spotlight of God’s radiant holiness, but we must acknowledge our sin if we’re to have God’s blessing and we must abandon our sin. This is the second step, the second hinge on the gate to the path to prosperity, the acknowledgement of sin, the abandonment of sin. Look at the verse of guillen. Whoever confesses agrees with God about the sin itself and its offense and its penalty and the remedy, and forsakes the sin will of mercy. We must not only confess the fact that we are sinners, we must confess to God the desire to turn from that sin, to no longer live in disobedience.
God won’t take that sin from us if he knows that we’re wanting to hold on to it. God extends his hand of mercy to those who are willing to let go of their sin. That’s why Isaiah 55 verse six says, let the unrighteous man forsake his wicked way and the Lord will have mercy on him. Sin cannot be covered unless it’s confessed and repented of. In confession, we get serious about our sin and then forsaking it, we prove how serious we are. We’re going to turn from those things that indeed caused Jesus to die on the cross for us. We’re going to turn by God’s grace, by his help from those things that have offended his holiness, that have shook the very pillars of heaven itself. The repentance soul not only sorrows over the wrong done, but expresses how deep that desire is and never wishing to do it again.
Folks, God will never arrive on the doorstep of our life with prosperity and blessing until we have waved goodbye to the sin that’s keeping that blessing back. If I was to put this in New Testament language, it would be repentance and faith. That’s what we’re being asked here. We’ve got to repent of our sin, turn from it, be done with it. Jesus said in Mark 1 verse 15 to his disciples to go and preach the gospel, which is to repent and believe. In Acts 20, verse 21, we read that we have to have repentance towards God and faith toward the Lord Jesus. It’s interesting that there’s a directional term used there. Repentance towards God, faith towards the Lord Jesus. You see, by our sin, we are turned the wrong way around.
We have our back to God. We’re away from his blessing. And if we’re to know his blessing and to see his face and to enjoy his smile, we’ve got to turn around and turn from those things that cause God to frown upon our life. We’ve got to turn from them, let go of them, ask God to forgive them as we confess them. And it’s only then that we’ll find mercy. There is no gospel without repentance. There is no salvation without confession of sin.
Sunday school teacher asked her class what the word repentance meant, and the little boy put his hand up and said, “It means to be sorry for your sin.” The little girl put her hand up and said, “Teacher, teacher, it really means being sorry enough to quit your sin.” The little girl was right. You can be sorry for your sin without quitting it. Adrian Rogers said that confessions that are born in the storm, die in the calm. An example of that would be Pharaoh. He was sorry for what he had done to the people of Israel because he was sorry for the consequences that had been brought on him in the plagues. There was a kind of repentance, there was a kind of confession and he said, “Let the people of God go.” But once the plagues were gone and the storm passed, in the calm, the repentance died. There was no true repentance. There was no true forsaking of the sin, and he pursued the people of God to his own destruction.
The Book of Proverbs warns us. There must not only be an acknowledging of that sin, but there must be an abandoning of that sin. Which brings us to the last thought, the annulment of the sin. The acknowledgement, the abandonment, the annulment. In Proverbs 28, verse 13, we read, but whoever confesses and forsakes them, that is the sin they have previously tried to cover, will have mercy. Isn’t that beautiful? There’s a promise. Will have mercy. Remember what we said at the beginning of this sermon as we head towards the close, the only thing standing in the way of God’s blessing is you and I. God wants to show mercy. God wants to display grace. God wants to remove our sins as far as the East is from the West. God wants to give us a piece that passes all understanding, a joy that’s unspeakable full of glory.
He’s the Father in the story of the prodigal. He wants to give us a ring and a coat and throw a party. God is that good. He’s not an ogre. He wants us to be on the path of prosperity, but sin is getting in the way. It must be repented off and forsaken. And if it is, we’ll find mercy. In fact, come back to the word confess. An interesting thing about this word is that most times it is used in the Hebrew Bible for praise and giving of thanks. It means to declare the goodness of God’s character and the grace of his actions. I’m not going to turn to because time’s gone. Psalm 89 verse five, it is translated praise. In First Chronicles 29 verse 13, the same word translated here, confess. It’s translated, thanks. And it seems to me that this verse holds out this idea that when you and I come to God in brokenness and sorrow over our sin, God meets us there. As we abandoned and acknowledge our sin, God meets us there in mercy. And the emotion of sorrow soon turns to joy.
We’ve seen it in our gospel services. We have known it in our own life. Some of us have walked to the front of this building itself. Some of us met God in the back room and we wept our way to the cross. And as soon as we got there, God threw his arms around us and a blanket covered our sins in the blood of Jesus Christ. And at that moment, the tears stopped and the joy came. And we praised God that he is so merciful that if we’ll confess our sins, he’s faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all in righteousness. And he puts us on a path to prosperity.
God forgives the soul that trusts his mercy. Listen to David in Psalm 51. I just want to pick up one word that he uses and draw it to a conclusion. David tells us that he forsook his sin, he confessed his sin. He went to God in Psalm 51, we read, have mercy upon me, oh God. I’m done with the silence. I’m done with the sanctimony, I’m done with the sacrifice. I’m coming to you. I’m burying my heart. I’m an adulterer, I’m a murderer. I’m a vile, wicked, evil man. Have mercy upon me, oh God. According to your loving kindness, you cannot act in mercy towards me for any reason other than it is an act of your own mercy. It is not my character, it is your character. It is not my love of you. It is your love of me. It is according to the multitude of your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions and wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
Did God do that? God did do that. And God will do that for you. That marble bath felt all the cleaner, those silk sheets felt all the cleaner the night that David said, “Have mercy upon me, oh God.” And peace came to his mind and joy came to his soul, and a sense that things were right with heaven came to his life.
Turn with me in closing to Acts 319 because this is the message not only of the Old Testament, but the New Testament. The Book of Proverbs and all its wisdom is saying that God wants to put us on a path to prosperity. It comes through confession of sin, it comes through trust in the mercy of God alone. It comes through lane hold of God in the belief that in an act of sheer grace, he will blot out our sins. In the New Testament now, wisdom has become a person.
Remember in the Book of Proverbs, wisdom was personified as a lady who’s got riches in her hand inviting us to lay hold of all that she’s got to say to us. Now, Jesus Christ, God’s son, has come. And according to the Book of Galatians, all the wisdom of God was treasured up in him. And wisdom has come through the Lord Jesus Christ. In Acts 3, verse 19, we find his disciples teaching what he taught them. He taught them to [inaudible 00:48:44] all the world and preach the gospel. What was that gospel? Here it is. Verse 19 of Acts 3, repent therefore and be converted that your sins may be blotted out so that times of refreshment may come from the presence of God. Similar language to David. Blot out my transgressions. And here the offer is come, repent, and God will blot out your sins.
That word blot out is a beautiful word. It pictures the removal of a debt that had been written down on a piece of paper. Remember they didn’t have paper as we have it, and they didn’t have ink as we know it. Their paper was velum or parchment. It was the skins of animals that had been scraped down to a smooth texture. Their ink didn’t have acid in it. While it dried, it dried on the surface of the animal skin. And because paper was so precious, or velum or parchment was so precious, it would be used again and again. They didn’t roll these things up and throw them into the wastepaper basket. No, they reused them.
And what would happen was they would take a wet rag, they would dump it and they would rub off the ink, off the parchment. It would come off because it had no acid in it. It didn’t bite into the animal skin. It was easily removed. And Jesus, through his disciples, assigned to us that you and I have a debt to God through our sin, but through his death on our behalf, he who knew no sin, being made sin for us dying in our place upon Calvary’s cross, God can take the sponge of his forgiveness and wipe away the debt of our sin because of the death of his son. And he can have mercy in us.
We deserve his justice, but we can have his mercy because justice was served in the death of Jesus Christ for us. God wants you to live all your life today and he wants you to live it under his smile. He wants to prosper you in body and soul. He wants you to know the riches of his grace. He wants you to know the treasure of his mercy. He wants you to know the pearl of great Christ, his own son, Jesus Christ. And you can only know it if you’ll uncover your sin so that God may cover it. That’s the path to prosperity.