We first notice King Pharaoh; we find his confession recorded in Exodus 10: 16. His confession consisted of three words. Here is the confession as it fell from his lips: "I have sinned," and yet as fearful as his confession was and as far-reaching, and as horrible as the consequences of that confession meant to that man, yet he held on to his sins, until they put him in the bottom of the Red Sea, and though he made his confession, he received no benefit in the world from it.
We next notice a prophet, whose name was Balaam. In Numbers 22: 34 Baalam said, "I have sinned." His confession was an honest one; but as truly as Pharaoh had his heart set on keeping the Israelites in bondage, Balaam had his eye on Balak's gold. But this prophet was out of God's order, and he went to curse Israel for Balak, over the protest of the Lord. But on his way, the reader will remember, God sent an angel out to meet him, and a number of times when the donkey that Balaam rode came to the angel he was turned to the right or left, and while the donkey beheld the angel, Balaam did not see it. It seems a little strange that at times a dumb brute has a greater spiritual vision than a backslidden preacher, but nevertheless this was the case with this man Baalam, and when God couldn't do anything else with Balaam, he had the dumb beast that he rode speak to him in man's voice, and then Balaam made his fearful confession.
It was those three fearful words, "I have sinned," but nevertheless he kept his eye on Balak's gold until fifteen hundred years later God had St. Peter preach Balaam's funeral; and in Peter's discourse he said, "Balaam died, the lover of the wages of unrighteousness." The reader will notice that Pharaoh and Balaam made the same confession, and yet both died sinners.
We next notice a man whose name was Achan. We read this man's wonderful history in the Book of Joshua, recorded in the 7th chapter and 20th verse. We notice that Achan had disobeyed God and had stolen a Babylonish garment and a wedge of gold, and a few shekels of silver, and he held on to these things that he had stolen until he defeated the army of Israel, disgraced the cause that they represented, grieved the Lord, and caused thirty-six of his own brethren to be put to death, and his wife and children destroyed, and he himself was taken into the valley of Achor and stoned to death.
But we find that Achan had made the same fearful and awful confession that Pharaoh and Baalam had made. He said, "I have sinned," but he held on to his crookedness until it damned him. Beloved, when will we learn a lesson from these fearful and awful consequences of holding on to sins until they wreck and ruin precious and immortal souls? The reader will see that these three men made the same confession and neither of them received any benefit.
My judgment is that each of them made an honest confession, but nevertheless each man held on to the sins he had confessed until they destroyed him.
We will next notice King Saul. In I Samuel 26: 21 Saul said, "I have sinned," but he held on to his disobedience, and carried jealousy in his heart and laid plans to murder another man, and so grieved God that God would talk to Him no more. The reader will notice that Saul made the same confession that the other three had made, but nevertheless, don't forget, beloved, that Saul held on to his sins, though he had confessed them, until he fell on his own sword and ended his own life on Mount Gilboa. He was Israel's first king; he was chosen over God's protest and had a good start, but a fearful and awful ending. He held on to his sins until it was too late to get back to God.
Our next man that made this fearful confession was a man whose name was Shimei. We read of him in II Samuel 19: 20. Shimei said, "I have sinned," but he held on to his sins, and his crookedness, and his skullduggery until he was finally put to death by King Solomon, and died in disgrace, and left a blotch on Israel. Although his confession was honest, he did not forsake his sins, and they finally destroyed him, and I am convinced that every reader of this page can call to mind some friend or neighbor, or maybe some relative, who to their knowledge have made honest confessions time and again, but yet never did forsake their sins, until finally their sins destroyed and damned them.
We next notice probably one of the saddest characters described in the Holy Scriptures. This is Judas Iscariot. We read in Matthew 27: 4 these same three fearful words, "I have sinned," and yet while Judas confessed his sins, he held on to the thirty pieces of silver, until Christ was captured, and tried before Pilate and Herod. He had worn the crown of thorns and purple robe; He endured the Roman scourge, He had been beaten and was spit upon, mocked, and hissed as He staggered under the cross, and was finally nailed to the cross; the earth had reeled and staggered, and darkness like a nightmare had settled down over the Judean hills, and the Son of God had begged for water and had been refused, and could only have a cup of gall, and hardened sinners had wagged their heads and said, "Truly this was a righteous man," and yet, beloved, up to this time Judas is still holding on to those thirty pieces of silver. What a horrible thought, to think that a man of good intelligence will hold on to that which is perishable until he loses that which is eternal. Yet we find that Pharaoh, Baalam, Achan, King Saul, Shimei, and Judas Iscariot, all six, have done that very thing.
We next notice the prodigal son. This is the only man out of the seven who confessed and received any benefit. We read in the 15th chapter of Luke and the 18th verse, the words of the poor prodigal, "I have sinned." But the prodigal not only confessed, for no sooner had he made his confession to himself and the hog pen, he resolved to arise, retrace his steps, and go back to his father's house, and make the same confession there that he had made in the hog pen.
So we hear him say, "I have sinned, but I will arise and I will go to my father, and I will say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee; I am not worthy to be called thy son, make me to be one of thy hired hands.'" Thank God, he left the hog pen, and took up his lonely march, clothed in rags, facing a wrecked life, carrying a guilty conscience, but headed in the right direction.
Beloved, think of this, we next read that his father saw him when he was a great way off, and ran to meet him, and when the father met the wayward boy he fell on his neck and kissed him. The poor, dirty, ragged boy, undertook to make the same confession to his father that he made in the hog pen, but his father kissed him and pulled him to his bosom, and, bless God, the past record of the prodigal son was blotted out.
What a wonderful picture of God's love! Here we see such beautiful marks of the love of God, as He deals with a penitent soul.
We first notice the father ran to meet him. No man can read of the old father running to meet this returning prodigal and fail to see the wonderful interest that the father felt in his heart for that beloved boy.
In the second place, we can see the old father's arms around his boy, and he pulls him to his bosom. You can just see the old white locks hanging over the boy's shoulder, and the tears as they trickle down over the white beard.
In the third place, we see the old father planting the kiss of reconciliation on the face of his boy. There the father and the son were reconciled.
In the fourth place, we see the old father putting a beautiful robe on this returning boy.
Beloved, there is the robe of righteousness that our heavenly Father will hand over to every returning prodigal. This is a beautiful gospel robe. It meant the dark past was blotted out, the future before him was shining bright.
But, in the fifth place, we notice that the old father had them to bring a pair of shoes and put them upon his boy. Thank God, here we see a splendid pair of gospel shoes, and now the poor prodigal that was barefooted is "shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace."
In the sixth place, we notice that the old father put a ring on the hand of this boy. He now has his kiss of reconciliation, the beautiful robe of righteousness, the splendid gospel shoes, and just think of this, it was sealed with the father's ring, as it was placed upon the hand of the prodigal boy.
Now we notice the seventh thing that took place. Listen now, you will hear the old father testify. Here is his testimony. He said, "This, my son, was lost, but he is found; he was dead, but he is alive forevermore; I have received him safe and sound." A spiritually minded man can see that all of the above marks of these wonderful steps in divine things make up a clear cut case of salvation from sin. But we not only believe in the first work of grace, but, with John Wesley, believe in the second blessing, properly so-called.
And now we want to prove to the reader that though this young man had received so much, there was still room for a second blessing, for the old father now gives the command, "Let the fatted calf be killed, and let us make him a feast." And the next time we see the old boy he not only had the kiss of reconciliation, and the robe of righteousness, and the gospel shoes, and his diamond ring on, but, bless your heart, he had beef gravy all over his face, and the music was rolling, and the old boy was dancing, and they were making merry.
Now, beloved, don't you see that after this man had left the pig pen and had made his confession, and had received the kiss, and a robe, and a pair of shoes, and a ring, and had received his father's testimony that he was sound and was alive, yet up to this time the fatted calf was still kicking up his heels in the barnyard, showing that the boy didn't get the second blessing until after he had gotten the first.
And there is another point right here that can be noticed just at this time; while the music and dancing was going on, the elder son returned from the field, and raised a fuss with his father, and got mad, and would not go to the feast.
But, thank the Lord, the old prodigal sure did get the goods, and no make-believe about it.
I have always admired the man that will make his confession and go to the bottom in order that God may bring him back to the top, for after all the way up is down.
Praise the Lord from whom all blessings flow!
Robinson, Reuben A. (Bud) (2015-03-31). The Collected Works of 'Uncle Bud' Robinson (Kindle Locations 2345-2425). Jawbone Digital. Kindle Edition.