Two criminals were crucified with Christ. One was saved; do not despair. One was not; do not presume.    ~Augustine 

Author and pastor Mark Buchanan re-counts the following in his book Your God is Too Safe:

There is a story about Frederick the Great, King of Prussia. He was inspecting the Berlin prison. As he walked through the hordes of shackled men, they fell pleading at his feet, protesting their innocence. They claimed to be falsely accused, models of virtuous living, completely innocent of all crime. Only one man didn’t do this. Frederick called to him, ‘Prisoner, why are you here?’

‘I robbed a man, Your Majesty.’

‘And are you guilty?’

‘Yes, Your Majesty.’

Frederick called the guard over. Pointing to the man who confessed, he said, ‘Release this man immediately.  I will not have this scoundrel thief kept here where he might corrupt all these fine, virtuous, and innocent men.’

Buchanan continues…

That’s the lovely irony of confession: The one who actually confesses gets out of prison… 

God’s economy is rather quite simple—God grants pardon only to those willing to admit their offenses.  Keep in mind, one of the two criminals who hung beside Jesus confessed his guilt and praised Jesus as the Son of God and the other did not—he was too busy giving Jesus guff about being the Son of God.  And it goes without saying which one went on to eternal torment and which one to eternal joy.   

 39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, ‘Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.’ 42 And he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ 43 And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’           (Luke 23:39-43, ESV)

Will you confess your sins and see the Messiah’s innocence?

You must know you are guilty.

It is only the guilty who confess and look to the Cross who get to go free.