What does the Bible say about giving an apology?

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Definition of an Apology

An apology is an admission of an error or discourtesy accompanied by an expression of regret.

Admitting a wrong act

About giving an apology, the apostle John wrote, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). The apology should be more specific than the just the admission of sinfulness. The identification of the very nature of a sin and an understanding of the reasons that led to its commission are necessary to confession and to building up power to resist a similar temptation when it happens.

The apostle James admonished the believers to give an apology to one another, “Confess your trespasses to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).

The Bible clearly instructes that sins are to be confessed to God alone, and that we have but one “mediator” of sin between God and man—Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). He is our “advocate with the Father” (1 John 2:1). While private sins should be confessed to God alone, sins that involve others are to be confessed to those who have been hurt. For a guilty conscience builds a wall between the believers and God and make their prayers ineffective.

Wrong apology

There are examples in the Bible for individuals who gave apologies but were not really sorry for their evil actions. King Saul disobeyed God’s clear command, and Samuel confronted him. Saul confessed his sin but excused it for a desire to please the people (1 Samuel 15:24–26).

Likewise, Esau despised his birth right and sold it to Jacob ((Genesis 25:30-34). Then, he regretted it and cried (Genesis 27:38). But his tears expressed sorrow for his loss, but not for the action which had made that loss certain. His tears were useless because he was no longer capable of true repentance (Hebrews 12:17). His sinful character was wall between him and God’s blessings (Jeremiah 8:20; Luke 16:26).

Another example is that of Judas Iscariot. After his betrayal of Christ (Luke 22:48), he only confessed his sin because of his horrible guilt and not because he was truly sorry. His act consisted of remorse but didn’t include a change of heart or a transformation of character.

Right apology

Zacchaeus is an example for the right kind of apology which goes beyond just mere words of confession. When he decided to follow the Lord, he made a public promise saying; “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold” (Luke 19: 8). The amount Zacchaeus promised to restore was the best of proof that he had a transformation of heart.

No repentance is genuine that does not work change. The righteousness of Christ is not a cover for sin; it transforms the character and controls the conduct. Holiness is the entire surrender of heart to the principles of heaven. The Lord instructed, “If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; . . . none of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: . . . He shall surely live” (Ezekiel 33:15, 16).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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