Why should it be so difficult for a Christian to confess, “I was wrong”? Throughout the history of God’s dealings with His people, He has demanded that His children confess their iniquity in order to have His approbation. Of the children of Israel, God said:
If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me; And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity: Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land (Lev. 26:40-42).
Through Moses, the Lord spoke unto the children of Israel, saying: “When a man or woman shall commit any sin that men commit, to do a trespass against the Lord, and that person be guilty; Then they shall confess their sin which they have done” (Num. 5:6-7).
David, the man after God’s own heart, was willing to repent of his sins and confess them. He said:
Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.… I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah (Psa. 32:2, 5).
In the New Testament we are told, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (Jam. 5:16).
The apostle Paul freely admitted that he was chief of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15), even though he had persecuted the Christians in ignorance because of his former religious training. No, one cannot plead ignorance and be excused. Though Jesus prayed to the Father to forgive those Jews who were guilty of crucifying Him because “they know not what they do,” it is evident from the Scriptures that they were not forgiven until they acknowledged their guilt, repented of their sins, and were baptized at the preaching of Peter and the other apostles on the day of Pentecost following His crucifixion.
Likewise, we as Christians, if we ever expect to get to heaven, are going to have to assume some responsibility for our actions. When we have sinned, we must confess it and pray for forgiveness.
Sometimes it is not enough to merely acknowledge to God that we have sinned. There are many sins which involve our actions toward our fellow man that must be rectified between the two of us in the manner which God has commanded (Mat. 18:15; Jam. 5:16).
We cannot be like children, when they are corrected by their parents, who sometimes say, “He made me do it.” We cannot place the blame on someone else and hide behind them. Confessing our sins may at times demand that we accept some type of punishment for then, even though we will be forgiven of them; yet, if we are unwilling to humble ourselves to the point that we will endure the consequences of our sins, our character is not the type that God will accept. In order to be faithful and a true follower of Christ, we must be willing to say, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phi. 4:13), and get on with the business of confessing our wrongs and doing whatever is necessary to rectify them.