Confession of sin and repentance do not always go together. Confession is really nothing more than an acknowledgement that we have done something wrong. The apostle John said about Jesus, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). So confession is all we need to do to receive God’s forgiveness.
Sometimes people joke about having committed a sin and say, the devil made me do it, as if that is an acceptable excuse for not taking responsibility for their actions. God wants us to admit our guilt so that he can make things right again.
It says in 2 Samuel 24:10, “And David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done and now I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant, for I have done very foolishly.”
It is important for us to confess our sins and although it is enough for us to be forgiven, confession does not change the outcome of our wrong actions. In David’s case, he was given three options for his punishment, but he still had to pay a penalty for his sin. “So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beer-sheba seventy thousand men” (2 Samuel 24:15).
The basic meaning of repentance is to be sorry, but it involves more than just saying, I’m sorry. “To repent means to make a strong turning to a new course of action…Hence, when one repents, he exerts strength to change, to re-grasp the situation, and exert effort for the situation to take a different course of purpose and action” (5162).
Initially, the pestilence was to be in the land three days. As a result of David’s repentance, it says in 2 Samuel 24:16, “And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand.” So the LORD stopped the angel from destroying Jerusalem because David repented.