“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”
Proverbs is in the Old Testament what James is in the New Testament. I might add that also the Sermon on the Mount is included in that appraisal.
At any rate, they both are severely practical. Both Proverbs and James treat the spiritual life of the Christian on the background of the wicked’s darkness.
Throughout Proverbs the righteous are revealed on the background of the wicked, with the constant result that the wicked are fallen, but that it shall go well with the righteous.
So also here: Cover your sins, and you won’t prosper! But confess and forsake them, and you shall have mercy!
Let’s look at that a little closer.
He that covereth his sins.
There is a horrible use of the possessive pronoun: sin and the person who sins are identified. And that is a horrible entity. His sins! There is a horrible property, besmirching the possessor! Sin is really the sinning person.
Hence, that is our name. The publican in the Temple of God saw truth. When he came to himself, and saw himself as he really was, he expressed his true name: The Sinner! (That is according the original Greek.)
Yes, brother, that is your name also, as you are by nature. From the cradle to the grave, and every moment in between, you sin. You sin incessantly, continually. You sin whether you are regenerated and converted or not. Even the holiest man or woman that ever lived sins always and at every step of his way to eternity.
What is sin?
Sin is to miss the mark. It is a figurative expression of the Bible. And the figure used, speaks of a man that shoots the arrow or slings the stone or casts the spear at a mark set before him.
And that mark ?
That mark is the glory of God!
Or: just God!
Thus man was set in the paradise of God the first. All within him told him to shoot at the true mark: the glory of his Maker.
But such activity you do not see any more.
Man shoots, but not at God. He directs himself at the creature, either ourselves or another, or both.
To cover sin: what is it?
From man? Well, that is good. When you are extremely evil you sin openly. Extremely evil men and women sin openly.
See: Isaiah 3:9, “And they declare their sin as Sodom; they hide it not.” Look at the fallen empires, just before their final fall: they flaunt sin openly!
Although when you sin against your brother you should not cover it before his eye, but, indeed, you even then cover your sin before the eye of the rest of the church.
Note some texts which refer to the covering of sin: James 5:20, “Let him know that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death and shall hide a multitude of sins.”
And: I Peter 5:8, “And above all things, have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.”
So there is a certain covering or hiding of sin which is good and salutary.
The prophet speaks here of the covering of your sin before God! And that is very evil.
And that’s the idea here. Look at the context. First of all in the text itself. But whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. That is spoken of the man who confesses sin before God, of course. And so we conclude that also the first part of the text refers to God. You should not cover your sins before God.
And in the context: “Happy is the man that feareth alway, but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.” Also here man’s relationship to God is stressed and the prophet continues of course in the same strain.
Therefore, the idea is that you sinned against God. And you knew it was sin, but you did not confess, nor leave off sinning. But you covered this sin in your heart: you hardened your heart before God’s all-seeing-eye.
Because you loved your sin, you relished it, and hated God, the Light.
And that is done.
Always by the wicked. Also, sometimes, by the church. Because of the flesh. And the Lord is addressing Himself to the church, of course. And this old prophet addresses you today, saying to you: confess your sins and you shall have mercy.
What then? We are to confess our sins.
And to do that, my dear reader, you need the knowledge of God in two ways.
First, you need that knowledge as it is revealed in His Word. That is, the Bible, the whole Bible.
And that Bible is the revelation of God’s own ethical life and will for our lives. In it you see exactly how you should walk from the heart out. Remember the text: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path”? Psalm119:105.
However, even that Word of God is not enough. You may have that Bible memorized in full, and still go to hell.
Therefore, you need the knowledge of God by His Holy Spirit. More correctly: you need the knowledge of God through the Spirit of Christ, the Pentecostal Spirit.
If you have that Spirit, you are regenerated, converted, and you walk on the way of sanctification. Then the Word of God becomes a living power within you. For that Spirit is the Spirit of Truth and the Faithful Witness. He takes it out of Christ, and declares it unto you.
Through the twofold knowledge of God you acquire a knowledge of sin.
The conscience, enlightened and refreshed daily by the Spirit of Christ, reacheth you experientially when you sin, through the Word of God. And it also is the spiritual sense organ which makes you hate sin, especially your own sin.
And the result is that you will sorrow after God from the heart. Daily you will tell the Lord that you have sinned. You pour out your heart before His face.
That is confessing your sin. To that you are called in my text.
Then you confess dark your sins, all your sins, even the sins you do not know. You will distrust your own heart, and its dark corners. You will say with David in another place: Cleanse Thou me from secret faults!
And forsaketh them.
First of all, that will be the constant desire of your heart. A Christian’s inmost desire is to live without sin. That is so because Jesus lives within you. Hence, we desire to live according to all God’s commandments.
And, secondly, that is the striving, the serious endeavour of your whole life. That is the constant laying off of the old man of sin, a daily exercise. And the putting on of the new man in Christ. In a word: sanctification.
But no perfectionism.
Even the holiest of God’s children have only a very small principle of this new obedience. That makes heaven so attractive. For in heaven no one of God’s children sins anymore.
And what is the result? Those who cover their sins before the eye of God shall not prosper.
First let me tell you that no one really succeeds in covering his sin before God’s eye. You may think so in your heart, but it is not so. He knows all our hearts and the secrets within.
Now then, what is prospering?
To prosper is to proceed toward the set goal. You know, creation must go through a great process in order to arrive at the final glorious purpose.
And the final goal is, that heaven and earth and all their hosts arrive before the Face of God, united in Christ Jesus in order to sing everlastingly the praises of Jehovah.
Now, if you cover your sins you will never arrive there. Oh, you will go to God alright, but when you get there, you will hear Him say to you: Depart from Me, you evil doer, I have never known you! Not to prosper means that you will retrograde. And that is hell!
The world, the wicked world, does not prosper.
That is very evident. Just live: see, hear, and observe. In all the media. And the sum total will tell you: they are running headlong into everlasting destruction.
But it is also a warning to the church of Jesus Christ. The tendency to cover our sins is always there.
David did. Until Nathan, the prophet, called on him and said: Thou art that man!
I read: “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin unto Thee, and my iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.”
Hence: Return to the confession of your sins! Beware! If you do not: God’s hand will be heavy upon you, until you do!
But when confessing and forsaking your sins, you, will taste the mercy of Jehovah. Mercy is the love of God for His people in great misery, with the determination to deliver them out of all their distresses.
It means that you will have the forgiveness of your sins, the acceptance in the everlasting arms of God!
Through His marvellous grace over you!
In that grace He gave you His great Substitute: Jesus Christ. All our sins were visited on Him, so that you might be set free!
Indeed, great is the mystery of Godliness: God manifested in the flesh: our Jesus!