How many are my iniquities and sins? make me to know my transgression and my sin.
Job is in a sad perplexity. His friends accuse him of great sin as the cause of his great trouble, but his conscience does not echo their accusation. Can it be that he has sinned unconsciously, that God is really angry with him for some offence which he has not recognized?
I. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO SIN UNCONSCIOUSLY. It is not to be supposed that a man could be as guilty as Job's friends assumed the patriarch to be, and yet possess the clean conscience that was the one mitigating condition in his terrible distresses. The glaring contradiction proved the error of the comforters. Moreover, nobody can sin unconsciously, because the evil deed that is done apart from consciousness possesses no moral character. A hypnotized person who killed another would not be a murderer, nor would one who did so in the delirium of a fever. To sin in ignorance is not really to sin at all. All sin lies in the motive, and the motive must be evil for the deed to be sinful. But we cannot have an evil motive without knowing it.
II. IT IS POSSIBLE NOT TO BE FULLY CONSCIOUS OF ONE'S SIN.
1. The guilt of it may be minimized. A man knows that he has done wrong, and this very knowledge sets him to work on the ingenious search for excuses. He puts his conduct in the best light, hides its more ugly features, hunts up extenuating circumstances, pleads weakness, necessity, custom, ulterior good, etc.
2. The fact may be ignored. We keep the door locked on the skeleton in the cupboard. We do not care to rake up ugly memories. We tread lightly over the weak places in our life's story. When this careful ignoring of sin has gone on for some time, conscience itself is soothed and charmed into peace.
III. IT IS MOST DESIRABLE THAT OUR SIN SHOULD BE REVEALED TO US. The revelation has many good results.
1. It leads to repentance. We never know how odious our sin is till we look at it in God's light. Hidden and forgotten sin is not repented of. Pride grows on the graves of buried sins. The sins must be exhumed and Scattered to the winds, if we are to take the humble ground of penitents.
2. It helps us to conquer tin. The sin that lives within us is not recognized in its deadly character till God reveals it to us. Thus our excuses for sin encourage the reign of sin. To destroy it we must see it in its true character.
IV. IT IS WELL TO PRAY THAT GOD WOULD REVEAL OUR SINS TO US.
1. He can, For he knows the sin better than we know it, and he is in close contact with our consciences. The awakened conscience perceives sin with a shock of horror, and it is the Spirit of God that awakens conscience.
2. He will at last. Sin cannot remain hidden for ever. The secrets of all hearts must be dragged to the light in God's great day of judgment. If we will not have our sin revealed to us now, it will be revealed to all then.
3. We should seek a revelation. Thus we may anticipate and prevent the future revelation. For the sin that is repented of and forgiven will never Be revived. Meanwhile the longer our sin is hidden the worse it is for us. It is a viper in the breast, poison in the blood, death in the heart. Sin itself, not its consequences, is our worst enemy. Therefore let us pray, not in the perplexity of Job's cruelly misjudged situation, but in the simple contrition of the psalmist, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23, 24). - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: How many are mine iniquities and sins? make me to know my transgression and my sin.