By Justin Dillehay
“The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” (Proverbs 28:1 ESV)
“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (Prov. 28:13, NIV)
Rarely do I feel worse than when I’m trying to conceal some sin. Not prospering. That’s an accurate way to describe it. I would also describe it as a tiring, anxiety-inducing state of paranoia.
Which is why the Wisdom writer notes a few verses earlier, “The wicked flee when no one pursues.” (Prov. 28:1). Hiding sin requires you to think about your sin constantly, which makes you think that everyone else must be thinking about your sin as much as you are. Off-handed, unrelated comments make you think that you’ve been found out. “How did they know what I was trying to hide?!” You take off running, leaving the poor ignorant person wondering “What’s with her? Did I say something wrong?”
The best remedy I have found is that described in the second half of verse 13: “but the one who confesses and renounces [these concealed sins] finds mercy.” Confessing my sins means dragging them out of the darkness and into the light—the one place they hate to be. My hidden sins are like vampires or Gremlins; when I bring them into the light they scream and melt. Needless to say, this requires humility, because in my pride I would rather no one know how bad a sinner I still am. But it also requires courage.
And in the gospel I find both. Knowing that my sins were so vile that Christ had to be tortured to wash them away makes me humble. Knowing that “if I confess my sins, he is faithful and just to forgive me my sins and cleans me from all unrighteousness” gives me courage (1 John 1:9). After all, one of the main reasons why we stay in the darkness and refuse to come to the light (aside from loving our sins and not wishing to give them up) is that we’re afraid that God will blast us to much-deserved smithereens as soon we step into the light with our sins exposed. The gospel is meant to destroy this fear.
Because of what Christ has done through his cross and resurrection, God can now forgive us our sins without compromising his justice (Rom. 3:25-26). Indeed, not only is God not unjust to forgive those who confess their sins, he is positively just to do so (1 John 1:9). This is why anyone who comes to God through Jesus can lay aside timidity and come with confidence (Heb. 4:16).
Little wonder verse 1 ends like it does. “The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1 ESV).