We have embarked on this series for several reasons among which is the fact that “glorifying God” is often supposed to be an amorphous phrase, an almost meaningless concept into which we may pour pretty much any activity or project we want and call it something that glorifies God. But although the Bible is not written in encyclopedic form so that we might turn to the “G” section and, under the heading, “God, Glorifying,” find a succinct definition of the term and a neat list of the means by which that activity may be accomplished, we can find many individual statements concerning those things that glorify God; i.e., it is not left either to our creativity or to our human inclination to determine the means by which God may be glorified.
We glorify God by confessing our sin[s]. On this account, the Scripture recounts the experience of Achan (please, read Joshua 7 for the entire account). For our purposes, it is sufficient to note that Achan consciously and willfully violated a direct command of the Lord (see, Josh. 6:17-19). Upon discovering Achan’s transgression, Joshua exhorted Achan to confess his sin: “My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me” (7:19). This verse provides us with several seminal truths.
1. Confession of sin is not synonymous with exposing sin. Achan’s sin, though committed without the knowledge of the authorities, had already been disclosed. Some might have us believe that the shame of having a sin come to light is sufficient to end the matter. It was not enough for Joshua to know that Achan had sinned; Joshua needed to know the nature of the sin, not out of prurient curiosity, but in order to know how to properly deal with it. In Achan’s case, God exposed the fact that he had sinned through the use of the lot, and the nature of the sin would have come to light eventually as well. It is evident from Achan’s word and attitude and from God’s judgment upon him, that Achan’s confession was an admission of guilt without any repentance of heart. If God is going to be glorified in a way that also blesses the offender, his confession must entail repentance, a sorrow that turns from the sin to righteousness.
2. Genuine confession of sin may require acknowledgement, not just to God, but to any and all injured or affected by the sin. We sometimes hear it said that private sin requires private confession and that public sin requires public confession. It is certainly true, at least, that a confession of sin that glorifies God is as broad as those affected by the sin. For example, if I think a sinful thought that goes no further, private confession/repentance to God alone might be sufficient to conclude that sin. But if I defame someone, then my confession must include the party I’ve defamed as well as those who have heard the sin from my lips.
3. Genuine confession of sin glorifies God. In the flesh, we tend to think that things that put us in a good light, that is, manifest virtue, glorify God (and they may). But oftentimes it is in the necessary acknowledging of our weakness and sin that God is most glorified. That is not to suggest that we should sin in order that God might be glorified by our humble repentance (Rom. 6:1, 2). But it is a reminder that God’s strength is seen powerfully in contrast with our weakness (II Cor.12:9). Our humility exalts Him. Our repentance spotlights His mercy and grace. Blessed is the believer who at any moment has no sins to confess. Blessed is the man who glorifies God by confessing/repenting of his sins. And blessed is the God who “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).
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