“I’m sorry, but . . .” he began and I realized he wasn’t sorry at all. Once more he had betrayed my trust and crushed my heart and once more he offered a hollow “apology” that absolved him of the responsibilities of his actions. There always seemed to be some reason outside of his control that made him do the things he did (or not do the things he said he would do). But the truth is I’ve made the same kind of apology and I’ll bet you have too. It’s human nature to want to wriggle out of blame. It’s as old as the first sin. Adam blamed Eve – and even blamed God – and Eve blamed the serpent. Shifting blame is a national pastime. It doesn’t really change what we’ve done or the harm we’ve caused, it just presses the guilt down a little under a false sense of relief.
Our key verse sits in David’s Psalm of lament after he was confronted with his adulterous sin with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah. David does not try to dodge his wickedness nor sweep away his guilt. He says, “I know my transgressions and my sin is always before me” (v. 3). He confesses his sin to God and says that the Lord’s judgement against him is right and justified. He pleads for mercy and cleansing and God graciously gives it.
Our sin breaks the heart of God and if we love God it will break our hearts as well. But forgiveness is possible when we confess our sin and repent. And true repentance never has a “but,” it is raw and honest before the One who knows it all anyway. It’s the only way to find real forgiveness and peace. Paul reminded the Corinthians that “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret” (2 Corinthians 7:10).
A dear friend once told me, “God doesn’t forgive excuses, He forgives sins.” Beloved, we must stop trying to excuse our sin away and come to God in true repentance. No “buts” about it.