St. John Chrysostom taught that the failure to confess one’s sins in order to seek God’s forgiveness was a more grievous offense to God than sinning itself. Living in the world of the Fall, we humans easily succumb to temptation and sin. While this failure is an offense to God, even worse is to fail to acknowledge the sin and seek God’s mercy which God so readily offers to those who repent. Repentance is far more within our power than to resist temptation. In sinning we may not intend to offend God, but in resisting repentance we are intentionally offending the God of love and mercy.
In one of the short wisdom sayings of the desert fathers, it is clear that in the very instant we sincerely repent, God forgives. It is our reluctance to repent that is offensive to God. Chrysostom says:
“You see, confession is of the greatest efficacy for correction of faults. Thus, as proceeding to deny guilt after committing sin proves worse than the sins themselves – which was the condition of that man who killed his brother [i.e. Cain, see Genesis 4] and who when questioned by the loving God did not merely decline to confess his crime but even dared to lie to God.”