I have sinned but …

Sunday service, Kjell Olsen, 11 Sep 2016

1Sam 13:12, 15:24, 15:30

13:12 Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.

15:24 And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.

15:30 I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel

We find this on a number of occasions right through the Bible. Pharaoh said “I have sinned” on a number of occasions (Ex 9:27, 10:16). So too with Balaam, when he realised in what great danger he also said “I have sinned” (Num 22:34). Yet he continued in the wrong path and went from bad to worse. There are numerous more examples in the Old and New Testaments. When John the Baptist baptised many as a sign of repentance, the Sadducees and Pharisees also joined in, and yet the Holy Spirit in John the Baptist caused him to say, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matt 3:7-8). Judas Iscariot also, after he had betrayed Jesus said the words, “I have sinned”, yet afterwards he went and hanged himself (Matt 27:3-5).

It is also possible that we might make the same mistake. We use the right formula, say the right words yet remain unforgiven.

Let’s go back to Saul and examine his repentance. The burnt offering could only be offered by the prophet. Yet he said he wanted to seek the face of God and forced himself and offered the burnt offering. He said that circumstances compelled him to do the wrong thing. He sought to excuse his sin while in the act of repenting. The terrible thing about this particular instance is that he dealt with a holy thing expressly forbidden by God and he knew it. And so in the second instance it’s no surprise that in his repentance he again excused his sin. He said that the people insisted that they wanted to offer “to the Lord your God”, and he kept the best (1Sam 15:21). (Why doesn’t he say “our God”?) Samuel stopped him halfway and said to him, stop and let me tell you what the Lord says (1Sam 15:16). Saul as the king should have known better.

He also wanted a quick forgiveness and we read, “I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God” (1Sam 15:30). It’s not that God doesn’t want to forgive instantly but if you seek a quick and easy forgiveness it’s no repentance at all. He was trying to minimise the consequences of his sin.

The problem with many Christians is that they pray with themselves, confess their sins to themselves and forgive themselves (as Dietrich Boenhoffer points out in “Fellowship”). Jesus told of the Pharisee and publican who went into the temple to pray (Luke 18:10-14). We read that the Pharisee prayed “thus and thus with himself), while the publican didn’t even look up, smote his chest and cried for mercy from God for his sin. He didn’t demand to be instantly forgiven, but he was. And Jesus said that when he left he was “justified”, God declaring a sinner righteous.

Compare Saul with the man alive in the same generation, David. David’s repentance was a process. He suffered greatly for his sin. We read in the psalms how his body dried up because of his sin. David said he groaned all day long. God’s hand was heavy upon him (Ps 32:3-4).

Saul also hid his sin in his confession. He conveniently left out the king of the Amalekites out of his confession, hoping Samuel would miss that.

How easily we only confess the things that are easy to confess. If you purposefully hide sin you will never be forgiven. The blood of Jesus never covers any sin that needs to be uncovered (as Duncan Campbell once pointed out).
David also didn’t go back to his sin. Saul went back to his sin and finally ended up consulting a witch and committing suicide.


Heb 12:1-2
“… let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles …”

This is addressed to believers. Christians are perplexed as to why some sins cling while others simply fall off. Here we find the answer. God tells us to rid ourselves of those sins that cling so closely. Is this a return to works? No it’s still by grace alone, but there are some sins that Jesus asks action from you to be rid of them. His death on the Cross has provided perfect grace to give us forgiveness and victory.

Martin Luther said the true Christian is the one who repents every day, the attitude of heart that turns from sin all the time.

Now this refers to those who are running the race, not those in the grandstands still criticising those who run. Such people still need to come to repentance and enter the race.

If God raises you from your death of sin it’s by his power alone even as He raised Lazarus from the dead. But Lazarus was still wrapped in the grave clothes. And then Jesus tells them to unwrap him. If Jesus could raise him from the dead, surely He could have let him come out without the grave clothes, with brand new clothes. So too we need to help each other even after Jesus raised us from the dead of sin.


Repentance isn’t something you can work up when and as you want. Many say that they don’t feel bad enough for their sin and therefore wait for the right feeling. But God doesn’t say repent when you get the right feeling. If there’s something to repent of do it right away. Over analyse yourself and the danger is “analysis paralysis”. Bring your sins to the Lord Jesus whether you feel like it or not.

It’s also true that repentance is a gift of God as we read in Acts 11:18, that God has granted repentance to the gentiles.

Don’t imagine that you’ll repent at your own convenient time when you see death near. As we read in John 6:44, “no one can come to the Me unless the Father draws him”. The Bible simply says, “today when you hear His voice do not harden your heart” (Heb 3:15). In another place, “if God may perhaps grant them repentance” (2Tim 2:25).

He says to us that when we hear His voice we must respond and not harden our hearts. Make that decision even now. If it’s necessary to unwrap things around your ankles, do so that you may run the race.

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