1. SAME METHOD IN NEW AND IN OLD
a. Since God does not change (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8), what must we realize about His desire regarding the salvation of every soul He has created? Psalm 78:38; Ezekiel 18:32; 2 Peter 3:9.
“[God] does not want any to perish, but longs to see all coming to repentance. . . . The sword of justice fell upon [Christ] that they might go free. He died that they might live.”—God’s Amazing Grace, p. 326.
b. At the dedication of the temple built by Solomon, what great Old Testament passage declares God’s willingness to forgive? 2 Chronicles 7:12–14. How is this echoed in the New Testament? 1 John 1:9; 2:1.
“Sin of a private character is to be confessed to Christ, the only mediator between God and man. . . . Every sin is an offense against God, and is to be confessed to Him through Christ. Every open sin should be as openly confessed. Wrong done to a fellow-being should be made right with the one who has been offended. If any who are seeking health have been guilty of evil-speaking, if they have sowed discord in the home, the neighborhood, or the church, and have stirred up alienation and dissension, if by any wrong practice they have led others into sin, these things should be confessed before God and before those who have been offended.”—Gospel Workers, pp. 216, 217.
2. THE FIRST STEP IN RECEIVING FORGIVENESS
a. As the work of the Holy Spirit is to bring conviction on the heart (John 16:8), what is to be our first response? Psalm 86:5.
“Conviction takes hold upon the mind and heart. The sinner has a sense of the righteousness of Jehovah and feels the terror of appearing, in his own guilt and uncleanness, before the Searcher of hearts. He sees the love of God, the beauty of holiness, the joy of purity; he longs to be cleansed and to be restored to communion with Heaven.”—Steps to Christ, p. 24.
“That repentance which is produced by the influence of divine grace upon the heart will lead to confession and forsaking of sin. Such were the fruits which the apostle declared had been seen in the lives of the Corinthian believers.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 324.
b. Looking at the example on the day of Pentecost, what happened as a result of the conscience awakening to conviction of sin? Acts 2:36, 37.
“It was by the confession and forsaking of sin, by earnest prayer and consecration of themselves to God, that the early disciples prepared for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. The same work, only in greater degree, must be done now.”—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 507.
c. How can we describe the result of conviction that leads to a change in life? Acts 2:38.
“Before [the Israelites] could find true peace they must be led to see and confess the very sin of which they had been guilty.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 614.
“True confession is always of a specific character, and acknowledges particular sins. They may be of such a nature as only to be brought before God, they may be wrongs that should be confessed before individuals who have suffered injury through them, or they may be of a general kind that should be made known in the congregation of the people. But all confession should be definite and to the point, acknowledging the very sins of which you are guilty.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 639.
3. AN EXAMPLE OF FALSE REPENTANCE
a. Did Judas repent of betraying Christ to the chief priests (Matthew 26:14–16, 47–49)? Why or why not? Matthew 27:3, 4.
“Judas now cast himself at the feet of Jesus, acknowledging Him to be the Son of God, and entreating Him to deliver Himself. The Saviour did not reproach His betrayer. He knew that Judas did not repent; his confession was forced from his guilty soul by an awful sense of condemnation and a looking for of judgment, but he felt no deep, heartbreaking grief that he had betrayed the spotless Son of God, and denied the Holy One of Israel. Yet Jesus spoke no word of condemnation. He looked pityingly upon Judas, and said, For this hour came I into the world.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 722.
“When sin has deadened the moral perceptions, the wrongdoer does not discern the defects of his character nor realize the enormity of the evil he has committed; and unless he yields to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit he remains in partial blindness to his sin. His confessions are not sincere and in earnest. To every acknowledgment of his guilt he adds an apology in excuse of his course, declaring that if it had not been for certain circumstances he would not have done this or that for which he is reproved.”—Steps to Christ, p. 40.
“By faith and prayer all may meet the requirements of the gospel. No man can be forced to transgress. His own consent must be first gained; the soul must purpose the sinful act before passion can dominate over reason or iniquity triumph over conscience. Temptation, however strong, is never an excuse for sin.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 177.
b. Explain whether or not this was a type of repentance that leads to eternal life. Matthew 27:5; 2 Corinthians 7:8–11.
“Many are in self-deception, and enter into plans with which the Lord has nothing to do. But the only safe course to be pursued is to obey the word of the Lord. Instead of doing this, many propose to do wonderful things. They find it easier to plan some great thing for the future than to empty themselves of self, surrender to God heart, mind, and will, and submit to be molded by that power that can create and destroy. Let the youth critically examine their motives, by prayer and searching of the Scriptures, and see if their own will and inclinations do not lead away from God’s requirements.”—The Youth’s Instructor, March 23, 1893.
4. AN EXAMPLE OF TRUE REPENTANCE (PSALM 51)
a. What happens when we do not acknowledge our sins before God and instead keep silent about it? Psalm 32:3, 4.
b. After Nathan the prophet was direct in revealing the sin of David (2 Samuel 12:1–12), how did the king respond? 2 Samuel 12:13.
“The prophet’s rebuke touched the heart of David; conscience was aroused; his guilt appeared in all its enormity. His soul was bowed in penitence before God.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 722.
“David’s repentance was sincere and deep. There was no effort to palliate his crime. No desire to escape the judgments threatened, inspired his prayer. But he saw the enormity of his transgression against God; he saw the defilement of his soul; he loathed his sin. It was not for pardon only that he prayed, but for purity of heart. David did not in despair give over the struggle. In the promises of God to repentant sinners he saw the evidence of his pardon and acceptance.”—Ibid., p. 725.
c. How did this occur also in the heart of Simon of Bethany? Luke 7:40–48. What is the only way peace and reconciliation can be obtained? Psalm 32:5; Jeremiah 3:13; 1 John 1:9.
“As did Nathan with David, Christ concealed His home thrust under the veil of a parable. He threw upon His host the burden of pronouncing sentence upon himself. Simon had led into sin the woman he now despised. She had been deeply wronged by him. By the two debtors of the parable, Simon and the woman were represented. Jesus did not design to teach that different degrees of obligation should be felt by the two persons, for each owed a debt of gratitude that never could be repaid. But Simon felt himself more righteous than Mary, and Jesus desired him to see how great his guilt really was. He would show him that his sin was greater than hers, as much greater as a debt of five hundred pence exceeds a debt of fifty pence.
“Simon now began to see himself in a new light. . . . Shame seized upon him, and he realized that he was in the presence of One superior to himself. . . .
“Simon was touched by the kindness of Jesus in not openly rebuking him before the guests. . . . Patient admonition convinced him of his error. He saw the magnitude of the debt which he owed his Lord. His pride was humbled, he repented, and the proud Pharisee became a lowly, self-sacrificing disciple.”—The Desire of Ages, pp. 566-568.
5. THE GIFT OF FORGIVENESS
a. If we are deeply involved in transgression, how can we be led to deep, genuine sorrow for our sins? Acts 5:30, 31; Isaiah 55:6, 7; Hebrews 4:16.
“A repentance such as this, is beyond the reach of our own power to accomplish; it is obtained only from Christ, who ascended up on high and has given gifts unto men.”—Steps to Christ, p. 25.
“If you see your sinfulness, do not wait to make yourself better. How many there are who think they are not good enough to come to Christ. Do you expect to become better through your own efforts? ‘Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.’ Jeremiah 13:23. There is help for us only in God. We must not wait for stronger persuasions, for better opportunities, or for holier tempers. We can do nothing of ourselves. We must come to Christ just as we are.”—Ibid., p. 31.
b. How thorough can we expect this work of God to be done for us and in us? Hebrews 12:12; Philippians 1:6.
“Repentance, as well as forgiveness, is the gift of God through Christ. It is through the influence of the Holy Spirit that we are convicted of sin, and feel our need of pardon. None but the contrite are forgiven; but it is the grace of God that makes the heart penitent. He is acquainted with all our weaknesses and infirmities, and He will help us.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 353.
c. What will be the result of this type of genuine confession? Romans 8:1.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What can we personally learn from the prayer of Solomon at the temple dedication?
2. What steps do we need to take seriously if we want to be involved in the finishing of God’s work under the power of the Latter Rain?
3. Why is there such a need to confess our sins to God? How responsible are we really in the act of sinning?
4. How careful do we need to be in showing someone that they are guilty?
5. How is it possible for a sinner to repent?