True Repentance

For godly sorrow produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, but worldly sorrow produces death. –2 Corinthians 7.10

Tonight my pastor preached a very practical yet profoundly convicting sermon from 2 Corinthians 7.8-10. As he preached, I saw in my mind so many instances in my own life in which I have struggled with sin and the ideas of confession, sorrow, and repentance. True repentance is nearly unheard of in our society today. Even Christians, who claim to believe in the depravity of man’s soul, generally go about life believing they are good people. We are quick to admit our general state of sinfulness, but very slow to confess and repent of particular sins.

Dr. Bowyer shared with us the writing of Thomas Watson, who wrote about Six Ingredients of Repentance:

1. Sight of Sin—First of all, we must be aware of our sin. In the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15, Jesus said that the son, while sitting in the pig pen “came to his senses.” He became aware of the sin in his life and where it had brought him. Before we can do anything about the sins in our lives, we must be aware of what they specifically are.

2. Sorrow for Sin—“Sorrow for sin makes Christ precious to us.” We must be saddened by the sin in our lives. It is for that sin that Christ chose to give up heaven to come to earth to die our death in our place. Recognizing the cost He paid to make forgiveness possible should make our Savior precious to us, and should make our sin sicken us.

3. Confession of Sin—We must admit that the wrong we do is sin. Too often we talk about misjudgments, poor decisions, and regrettable mistakes. We talk even more about the sins we are so quick to see that others commit against us. What we discuss very little is the idea that we sin. We sin against one another and we sin against a holy and loving God. Admitting we are wrong is hard for people who are so full of self-love and pride, but it is a necessary step of true repentance. After all, how can you really be sorry if there is nothing specific for which you are sorry?

4. Shame for Sin—When we realize our sin, we are generally ashamed, but often for the wrong reason. Our pride is shamed because we don’t want anyone to find out about the wrong we have committed because we fear what they may think of us. True shame over sin should be shame in the sight of God. We should be ashamed that we have failed our Father, not that people may find out.This shame should lead us to rid ourselves of the sin, not to try to hide it.

5. Hatred for Sin—When we truly understand the impact and effect of sin. When we see how it impacts those around us, when we meditate on the cross of Christ, when we see the pain caused by even the “smallest” of our sins, we should develop a hate for any behavior or attitude that separates us from Jesus and from one another. A dear friend taught me several years ago the very painful yet rewarding practice of praying for God to not only point out my sins to me, but also show me the effects of my sin on my relationship with Him and with those around me. That is a prayer He has never failed to answer. Seeing the impact of my sin on those I love most and on my relationship with the Lord always causes a hatred for that sin to grow in me. Instead of it being something I love and want to cling to, it becomes something I desire to strip from my life as soon as possible.

6. Turning from Sin—Once you have developed a hate for the thing that causes such pain and separation, the only rational thing left to do is to separate yourself from that sin. Turning from your sin and running to the cross of Christ is the only option you have left.

This is an overview of true repentance. In the next series of posts, I will discuss some of the things that repentance is not and where Christians tend to fall short in our dealings with sin in our lives.

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