We have no claim upon God. Matthew 19:17 says “…There is none good but one, that is, God.” These people mentioned in Matthew had no record of faithful service to offer to the Lord. There was no array of good deeds to go before them to plead for acceptance and approval. It is all the other way. These people’s iniquities testified against them. “Nathan said unto David, Thou art the man” (II.Sam. 12:7).
Confessions and professions that were made by distressful men in their suffering had no value as genuine utterances of the heart. Jeremiah said “…The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it? (Jer.17:9). The cry of the people showed the severity with which they were smitten; it did not of necessity show the state of their hearts.
“I the Lord search the heart,” (Jer.17:10). All that they said was true, their iniquities testified against them, they were apostates, and they had sinned against Jehovah. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Was it not the parched tongue and not the broken heart that made them speak? These people wanted water, and there was no way of getting it apart from the mercy of an Almighty God.
We can only plead for God’s mercy after a frank admission of our own guilt. Personal guilt must be admitted. “I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood” (Mt.27:4). The common habit of people is to take the opposite course. We excuse ourselves, justify our faults, or ignore, or even deny them. ‘The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” (Gen.3:12).
All these thing shuts the door against forgiveness. God can only forgive sin that is confessed, and He can only have mercy on the humble and penitent. It requires a genuine penitence to admit that we have been going the worse way. Sin is seen to be an offense against God. “We have sinned against thee.”
It is not a mere fault in ourselves, it is a direct act of warfare with heaven. David said “Lord, be merciful unto me, heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee.”(Ps.41:4) and so said the prodigal son in (Lk.15:21) Sin is recognized as abundant. They said “Our backsliding are many”. No doubt it is vain to confess some sins while denying others. Keeping back part of the confession mars the whole of it. They said “…our sins testify” against us.
Our own guilt, when frankly admitted, is no hindrance to the mercy of God. God will forgive for the sake of his character. The only hindrance to repentance is not repenting, which is an unforgivable sin. The ground of God’s mercy is not our due, but His goodness. If there is anything in us which would impress Him to be gracious, this is not our worth, but our need. The more wretched the condition to which our sin has brought us, the more urgent the call to His pity. Our plea must be “…for his name’s sake”.
His Name expresses what He is, His highest name is Love. Because of what He is, because of His essential goodness, love, and pity, we implore His help. God has promised to have mercy on the penitent, thus He has pledged His Name, binding Himself by His own certain faithfulness. God’s highest glory is good. When God delivers His children, His Name is glorified. Redemption honors God more than creation.