Genesis 43 by Robert Dean
Series:Genesis (2003)
Duration:1 hr 9 mins 51 secs

Confession, Cleansing, Recovery, then Repentance; Genesis 43


Part of the climax in the story of Joseph is when finally the brothers realize who he is and their thought is what Joseph is going top do to them now. Joseph makes the statement that what the brothers intended for evil, God meant for good. So at the very core of this whole Joseph narrative is the tremendous lesson on forgiveness, on being gracious, on learning to step over offences no matter how egregious they may be, and no matter what betrayals we may encounter, to step over them because we understand that God ultimately in control.


We began looking last time at how God works in Judah to bring him to this point of real change. The biblical word that is used for change is one of those words which has been so abused and misused down through the centuries of Christianity that nobody knows what it means anymore. It is one of those words like "holy." People talk about "holy" all the time but nobody knows what it means, it has been used and abused so much, it is so familiar that we lose its meaning and significance. We do the same thing with the word "salvation," and the same thing with "grace." The word that we are looking at now is "repentance," and what it means is change. Sometimes we think people don't change, but people do change. Look at Judah, he is a classic example in the Scripture of a man who changed spiritually because of the grace of God. He goes through this process where we have seen that God makes his sin apparent to him and he responds positively. We don't see the details of how he gets right with God and is restored to fellowship and confesses his sins, we learn that from other passages of Scripture and understand that that is what happened, but what we see is the result of it, that he goes from being this man who left his family, showed no spiritual interest whatsoever, marries a Canaanite woman, raises his children who don't live or act or live any differently from all of the horrible pagan Canaanites around them, and he engages in incest with his daughter-in-law even though he doesn't know it is his daughter-in-law in disguise. All of this transpires and then suddenly he is slapped with the reality of what he has done and there is real change. By the time we get to the end of the story Judah, who is the fourth son, and the first three have all discredited themselves in terms of gaining the blessing, qualifies for the blessing. He gest the blessing because when Jacob gives the prophecy related to those twelve tribes he says the sceptre will never depart from Judah. It is going to be the descendant of Judah who is the Messiah.


Ephesians 4 sets up a code of conduct for the born-again believer, and this code of conduct can't work when we are out of fellowship otherwise it is just works of the flesh. It has to happen when we are in fellowship. In Galatians 5:16 we are told "walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." The Greek uses a double negative plus the subjunctive verb which means it is impossible to do something. So that's the situation that you can only be walking by the Spirit or walking according to the flesh, one or the other. These are absolute states that are completely antithetical to one another, there is no overlapping. If you are walking by the flesh, no matter how good or wonderful or religious it might be, it is just dead works and has no eternal value. You have to do something to recover fellowship and continue walking by the Spirit, and that is 1 John 1:9. But after you get back in fellowship if you don't do something to stay in fellowship then you are just going to sin right away and be right back out. You don't get anywhere because there is something that is missing, and that is that it is not okay just to confess your sin and that is the end, the object is to stay in fellowship. That is why Jesus told the disciples, "Abide in me and you will bear much fruit." Abide means to stay. It is not just the getting back in fellowship that is the goal, it is staying there, remaining there, staying there as long as you can; and when you get out of fellowship, as you will, you just confess it as quickly as possible and get back in.


Ephesians 4:31 talks about the principle of forgiveness, and in verse 32 NASB "Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." "Just as God in Christ has forgiven you" is the standard. It is interesting that the word for "forgive" isn't forgive, it is not APHIEMI [a)fihmi], the word we have in 1 John 1:9, it is the Greek verb CHARIZOMAI [xarizomai]—CHARIS is the noun for grace, so this word means to be gracious.


Ephesians 4:17 NASB "So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind [emptiness of their thinking]." There is the word walk PERIPATEO [peripatew], the same word we have in Galatians 5:16 where we are told to walk by means of the Spirit. Don't walk like the Gentiles walk means don't walk in the flesh, in the sin nature, which is all unbelievers can do, they can't walk any other way. Everything an unbeliever can do comes out of the sin nature. [18] "being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance [of the truth] that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; [19] and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness." They are maximizing carnality [20] "But you did not learn Christ in this way." This is the same thing Paul says in Romans 12:2, "Don't be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of you mind," he is talking about change. But here he says, "You haven't learned Christ in this manner [20] "if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus." Remember, if you know the truth the truth will make you free; that is what Jesus said. [21] "that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self [quit living like you did as an unbeliever], which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit." Change has to take place. [23] "and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, [24] and put on the new self [everything that God intends you to be as a believer], which in {the likeness of} God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.


In verse 25 Paul gets very specific. "Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE {of you} WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. [26] BE ANGRY, AND {yet} DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, [27] and do not give the devil an opportunity."


In other words, when you get serious with doctrine you are going to quit doing those bad habits that made life work for you before you were saved, and now you are going to have new characteristics. It is not a matter of going and pulling yourself up by your spiritual bootstraps and saying you are adopting a new moral code. That isn't going to work. The difficulty about the spiritual life is that it is impossible and you can't do it apart from the Holy Spirit, so you have to have the Holy Spirit and the Word of God working together in your life and let the Holy Spirit do the transformation. But you have to make the decisions to apply doctrine.


Ephesians 4:29 NASB "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such {a word} as is good for edification according to the need {of the moment,} so that it will give grace to those who hear." Treat people in grace. [30] "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." Any time you commit these sins it grieves the Holy Spirit and you are out of fellowship. [31] "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice." Think about Joseph for a minute and all that those brothers had done. He had the choice of holding on to his anger and vindictiveness and desire to get back at them, but he didn't do that because he was grace oriented. That is what we have in Ephesians, a description of what grace orientation means. [32] "Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." The command there is a present middle imperative of GINOMAI [ginomai] which means this is to be a standard procedure in your life, a standard characteristic. GINOMAI means to become something you are not—become kind to one another. We don't start off that way; that is not the natural inclination of our filthy, evil, corrupt sin nature. We are selfish; we are arrogant, but we are to learn to be kind to one another. How do we do that? That is the thrust of the participle. The participle tells us how to fulfil the imperative. It is a participle of means. Be kind to one another by forgiving one another. How do we be kind? By forgiving, "just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." So that becomes the standard, and it is a tough standard to live up to.


But how does God forgive us? That takes us over to 1 John 1:9, a passage that is familiar to each one of us. But we live in an era today when, on the one hand, too many people think that that is too simple, just like they think that salvation is too simple, that all you have to do to be saved is to trust in Christ. So with confession we also want to make that complicated and say that it is not just enough to confess, we need to add something to that, let's add some remorse to that, some repentance to it. The way that it is sometimes articulated is that if I not willing to repent of sin X and expunge it from my life then it doesn't matter how many times I confess sins A, B, and C, then I can't get back in fellowship until I deal with sin X. So it is creating a subtle system of works and it is based on faulty exegesis. The real issue isn't confession, it is cleansing. Too often people get all caught up about confession but the real issue is that if you are not cleansed from sin you can't go into the presence of God. The psalmist said in Psalm 66:18 "If I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear me." There has to be a cleansing. 1 John 1:9 gives us the mechanics of the church age.


As we go through usage one of the things that we want to do is look at how the Greek in the Septuagint translates and is used from the Old Testament. We have phrases like Job 40:14, "Then I will also confess to you, That your own right hand can save you." What does confess mean in that verse? It has the idea of admitting something. Then we have some usages in the Apocrypha. In 1 Esdras 4:60 we read, "Blessed art thou, who hast given me wisdom: for to thee I give thanks, O Lord of our fathers." The word translated "give thanks" is HOMOLOGEO [o(mologew]. See, you can't translate that "I confess that" or "I agree with thanks." "Agree" may be a legitimate meaning of confession but it doesn't many contexts because it has different meanings. 2 Maccabees 6:6, "Neither was it lawful for a man to keep Sabbath days or ancient feasts, or to profess [HOMOLOGEO] himself at all to be a Jew." To profess means to verbally admit that you are something. If we break down New Testament uses, the primary use is to declare or acknowledge something—Matthew 7:23; 10:32; Luke 12:8; and John 1:20, where John the Baptist confesses that he is not Christ. John 9:20-22 is notable because there it is used in the same verse where we have the word "agree" in Greek: This has to do with the healing of the blind man. "His parents answered them and said, "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but how he now sees, we do not know; or who opened his eyes, we do not know. Ask him; he is of age, he will speak for himself. His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed [SUNTITHEMI/ suntiqhmi] that if anyone confessed [HOMOLOGEO/ o(mologew] Him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue." SUNTITHEMI is the word for agreed, not HOMOLOGEO. HOMOLOGEO may have that idea under certain circumstances but you have to understand what they are and you only do that by looking at every usage of the word and what all the characteristics are that surround it. The Jews had already agreed that if anyone confessed [HOMOLOGEO] Him to be Christ. In other words, if anyone admitted Jesus to be Christ. Does HOMOLOGEO there mean to feel sorry? There is no remorse that He was Christ; it doesn't fit.


There are a lot of dictionaries that will say that confess means to have remorse or something like that, so you have to look at each usage. It some contexts it means to admit of acknowledge something: Acts 24:14; 23:8; Romans 10:9. 1 John 1:9 is the only place in the New Testament where it means to confess or to admit wrongdoing. In Titus 1:16 it simply means to profess something, in the sense of professing or admitting. In Matthew 14:7 and Acts 7:17  HOMOLOGEO has the idea of making a promise. It is very different from confessing or agreeing. In Hebrews 13:15 it has the idea of praising or glorifying God. That is the semantic range of the word. So now what an exegete has to do is to come in and analyse each of these verses and look at what the characteristics are that surround it. One of the things that is discovered is that in 1 John 1:9 it is followed by an accusative noun: "If we confess sin," and it has to do with wrongdoing. After we have done our analysis of how the words are used and we develop our categories of the definitions of the various meanings—which is what the lexicographers do—then we come back and look at our dictionaries.