Only Acknowledge Thy Sin!
By E. E. Shelhamer
"Only acknowledge thine iniquity..." (Jeremiah 3:13). "Only believe..." ( Mark 5:36).
Here we have two preparatory steps to victory and Heaven. Everyone, regardless of how wicked he has been, is sure to come to the top if he can only confess and believe. But these steps must be taken in their order. It is easy to overemphasize either one. It requires two currents of electricity, positive and negative, to produce light.
During the Reformation, Luther with others saw the futility of suffering penance in order to find peace. Hence we hear them preach "Justification by faith."
It was not long, however, until this blessed truth was abused, and some, thinking to improve upon it, began to cry, "Only believe! Only believe!" For, said they, "If we are justified by faith, and not by works, then why confess and make restitution? Believe, and it is done." This sounded well, but it soon became a matter of head rather than heart faith.
Now, after these many years, some of our teachers have fallen into the same error relative to holiness of heart. They teach that since we cannot free ourselves of the carnal mind, why all this groaning and "dying out"? In other words, just "reckon yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin," and by reckoning it will become a fact.
This sounds nice and easy, but facts prove that this method of disposing of the "old man" of sin is too shallow. They teach that carnality was nailed to the cross and that we cannot add one whit to our deliverance, but should simply accept Christ as our Sanctifier.
Holiness of Heart
Yes, everything was settled on Calvary judicially, but this avails nothing experimentally, only as we actually cooperate by deep confession, self-abnegation, and a living faith.
To one who has passed through his inward crucifixion, it is painful to hear a theorist try to instruct hungry hearts. He may preach well and have the theory down pat, and then spoil it all at the crucial point. He urges seekers to "lay all upon the altar, believe the altar sanctifies the gift, and claim the blessing by faith." He gets them to consecrate to this and that, and thus sidetracks them onto a blessing, when what they need is not more activity, but purity.
God will bless any honest soul as he rededicates himself, but remember this is not the Bible route to Holiness-of-heart.
Don’t spread forth your hands in eloquent prayer; don’t try to sing or shout your way through; don’t be satisfied with a happy feeling; don’t accept your leader’s endorsement and stop short of the real witness.
No, the proper thing is to break down and "acknowledge" your real condition: how touchy and self-willed you have been; how unpleasant and harsh to others; how selfish and self-indulgent; how full of self-pity; how important you have felt! How you have inwardly sought the praise of men; how you have felt jealous when eclipsed by others; how few tears you have shed over sinners; how little holy unction in your life! (John 5:44).
Yes, when you get a real sight of your Big Self, you will plead for death as a drowning man will catch at a straw; you will take all the blame, rather than implicate others. You will cease using the words "we" and "us" in your confession, but like David in the penitential psalm, cry out, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean"; "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me!" (Psalm 51). When you thus "acknowledge" your depravity, blessed be God, you will not seek in vain.
"Only believe!" When one gets to the end of himself and almost despairs of help, as Jairus did after he was informed that his little daughter was now dead, here is where living desperate faith lays hold and cries, "It shall be done!"
Sickness, and even death, cannot exist in the Presence of Christ. "And straightway the damsel arose, and walked" (Mark 5:42). Friend, you may also arise and walk in newness of life!