If I’ve done it once, I’ve done it a thousand times. “I’m sorry for [whatever], but you [had it coming] …”.
I pretend to confess and repent of a sin against someone, but instead of stopping with my confession, I add a justification of my actions at the end. To be frank—that simply is NOT repentance. Instead, I’m trying to give a reason for my anger/bitterness/insensitivity or whatever it was that I did. But repentance is recognizing that my hurtful statements were wrong. Period. I don’t ever have justification for sinning against another.
I can easily recognize insincere confession when someone does it to me. It’s much harder to see it when I do it to others. In examining myself, I see that my justifications usually come from one of two basic points of views.
1) You hurt me first.
And maybe the other person really did hurt me. The problem is that I am called to be like Jesus. Jesus–who endured the worst at the hands of men without ever sinning against them in return. I must overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). There is never justification for returning evil with evil.
2) I was having a bad day.
I justify myself because I was tired, sick, or upset about some legitimate problem. But, once again, Jesus is my example, and though He was tempted in all ways like we are, He did not use it as an excuse to sin (Hebrews 4:15). Women might say, “But He never had PMS.” I agree, but He certainly experienced physical and hormonal changes (like 40 days fasting in the wilderness or six hours nailed to a cross with only vinegar to drink) that would apply even more physical/emotional/hormonal pressure than the average bout of PMS. Jesus can fully identify with our temptations to sin. He can also fully equip us to overcome them without sin.
I was convicted of my attempts to wiggle out of conviction by this statement on C. J. Mahaney’s blog.
“When I have sinned against someone, a sincere confession is required. A confession that is sincere and pleasing to God will be specific and brief. I have learned to be suspicious of my confession if it’s general and lengthy. A sincere confession of sin should be specific (“I was arrogant and angry when I made that statement; will you please forgive me for sinning against you in this way?”) and brief (this shouldn’t take long). When I find myself adding an explanation to my confession, I’m not asking forgiveness but instead appealing for understanding.”
Wow—how true!! And how convicting!!