It's one thing to say those two words and ask forgiveness from the depths of a broken, contrite heart and it's another thing to say them flippantly, thinking that should be the end of the matter and that we should be forgiven and the offense should be forgotten.
Those words are insulting when said by a criminal who has been prompted by his attorney to say the words to the victim's family in a court room before a jury with the hope that he will be given a lighter sentence. Those two words become empty and hollow sounding when they are repeated daily by an abusive husband to his hurting wife, or by an abusive wife to her hurting husband.
Two examples in Scripture illustrate and contrast a false confession and a true confession.
A FALSE CONFESSION
In I Samuel 15 the story is told of King Saul who disobeyed the Prophet Samuel and the command of God. to "go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass." The story continues with Saul partially obeying God, but sparing King Agag and some of the best of the beasts.That night God spoke to Samuel showing him the partial obedience of Saul was disobedience in the sight of God. The next morning the Prophet Samuel confronted King Saul with his disobedience. Proud, rebellious Saul, who had no heart for God, blamed his disobedience on his people. He also tried to excuse his disobedience in sparing the best of the animals, telling Samuel that he had spared them to use in sacrifice to God. God is not impressed when we use pious reasons for disobeying him.Samuel answered Saul, "Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry." Then Samuel passed God's sentence on Saul. "Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, He also hath rejected thee from being king."Saul immediately mouthed words of confession that did not come from his heart. "I have sinned for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and thy words: because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin and turn again with me, that I may worship the Lord." Samuel, speaking for God, announced to Saul that he was losing his kingdom. Then Saul really showed the insincerity of his heart. He said in verse 30 "I have sinned: yet honor me now, I pray thee before the elders of my people." Saul was not really sorry for his sins. He was sorry that he had been caught and that he had to face the consequences of his sin. So Saul illustrates for us the wrong use of the words, "I'm sorry!" I encourage you to read I Samuel 15 in it's entirety. It is a very interesting and instructive story illustrating a false confession.
A TRUE CONFESSION
In II Samuel 11 we have the well known story of King David who committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, one of his faithful soldiers. Later after Bathsheba was found to be pregnant, David added sin to sin by ordering his general to see to it that Uriah was killed in battle and so making it possible for him to marry Bathsheba and try to hide his sin. In II Samuel 12 the prophet Nathan is sent to King David to confront him with his sin. You can read this very interesting story for yourself. Nathan passed God's sentence on David in verses 10-12. David responded with his confession in verse 13, "I have sinned against the Lord." God forgave him but He did not remove the consequences of David's sin from him. The rest of David's life is very sad as we see one family heart break after another.For a full account of David's confession before God read Psalm 51. There we read his genuine. full confession of sin without any excuses. When we sin against God we would do well to read this Psalm and pray the substance of this confession to God.
THE BLESSING OF GENUINE CONFESSION
Take comfort from God's Word that when we confess our sins to Him without making excuses for our sinful behavior, God forgives us. I John 1:9 promises us, " If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." In Psalm 51:17 we are promised, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise."How do your sins affect you? Is your heart broken as you recognize that you have offended a holy God or do you have a calloused heart that is not troubled whatsoever by your sins? Your response to that question evidences whether you are saved or still lost in your sins. I encourage you to go to my articles on SALVATION and settle this issue