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Joshua 7:19 -

Sin confessed.

A notable scene. The people of Israel assembled in solemn conclave. In silent excitement the national offender has been detected, and waits to hear his doom from the lips of the great commander. Whilst every eye is bent upon Achan, Joshua addresses him in the language of the text. Note how guilty Joshua speaks, grieving over the offence rather than severely censuring it, calling the criminal "my son," and inviting a full disclosure from his own lips. Out of his own mouth was Achan to be condemned. Yet not with delight did Joshua await the confession. His fatherly heart was sorely pained at such a revelation of iniquity in his erring child.

I. CONFESSION IS DUE TO THE HONOUR OF GOD . All sin is committed against God, inflicts a wrong upon His Divine Majesty. To acknowledge this is the least reparation the sinner can make, is a sign of a right disposition, indicates that the basis of God's government remains firm within the sinner's bosom, though transgression had clouded it for a time. Confession magnifies the broken law and makes it honourable. Its omission from the Pharisee's prayer was a fatal defect; whilst the publican went down "justified" because of his proper attitude with reference to a holy God. The penitence of the thief upon the cross was evinced by his utterance, "We indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds." To confess is, in truth, to "give glory unto God," and hence is required, though not for His information, yet as essential to His character and law.

II. CONFESSION RELIEVES THE BURDENED BREAST . One of the clearest proofs that man was designed for companionship is to be seen in the tendency of any strong emotion to create an eager desire to communicate the same feeling unto others In our joys we long for the congratulations of our friends, and we seek their sympathy in our sorrows. And though the consciousness of sin is naturally accompanied at first by an endeavour to screen it from the gaze of our fellows, yet very soon the desire for secrecy is overcome by the more potent wish to speak of the deed which lies so heavily upon the conscience. Otherwise, as with the Spartan boy who, in hiding a fox under his tunic, allowed it to devour his very entrails, we shall discover that our concealment of sin can only end in the destruction of our being. And if it be thus helpful to discharge our woes and our follies into the ear of a fellow creature, how much greater must he our satisfaction when we have poured our tale into the audience of our heavenly Father. Men may view us with loathing, and shrink from future contact with us; they may fail even to make allowance for the strength of the temptation and the difficulties under which we laboured; but our Father is acquainted with all the circumstances, loves us as His children, and, whilst pained at our backsliding, is glad to witness our contrition. In Achan's confession here are several features worthy of imitation.

1. It was a full confession. There was no more dissembling, but an open declaration of all he had done. No attempt to extenuate his guilt; he laid it bare in all its enormity. The antithesis to confession is covering our sins, which may take place in various ways. We may try to justify them as necessary or excusable, as Saul did when he spared Agag. We may show that the matter was comparatively trifling and unimportant, as when we give names that soften vices and lessen our apprehension of them. Or we may charge other persons or things with the responsibility, shifting the blame from ourselves, pleading the requirements of business, the rules of society, the expectations of our friends, and the solicitations received, as when Adam replied, "The woman thou gavest, she gave me of the tree."

2. It acknowledged that the chief injury had been committed against God. "I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel." He had displayed a spirit of ingratitude and disobedience, and though he had brought evil upon the nation, and deserved their reprobation, he knew that it was the Almighty whom his conduct had especially wronged. So David cried, "Against thee, thee only have I sinned." Jesus Christ joined together the two branches of the moral law; but there are many who seem to think that if they fulfil their duty to their neighbour, their duty to God matters not. They say, "I have never done harm to any, have always paid my debts, been truthful and honest, charitable and upright; what sin, then, have I been guilty of?" We might in answer deny the accuracy of their statements, since due regard to others can hardly be observed apart from regard to God; but it is better, perhaps, to insist upon the obligation resting upon every man to "love the Lord with all his might," and to point out the numerous instances in which the worship and ordinances of God have been uncared for at the same time that selfish pleasures have been indulged in to the full. When the prodigal comes to himself, he does not merely resolve to reform, and that in future he will not join in the rioting of the world, but will live soberly before men; his one thought is to return to his Father and to confess, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee."

3. It was a confession to the people, since they had suffered through his misconduct. Achan's avowal was made in the face of Israel, and was followed by punishment according to the law. "Confess your faults one to another."

Conclusion .—The day approaches when "God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil."—A.


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