Saturday, May 10, 2008

...daily repentance from sin

declaring the good news of the gospel of grace

"Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning;
for some have no knowledge of God I speak this to your shame."
-The Apostle Paul, 1 Cor. 15:34

Sin is something we all wrestle with everyday and in varying degrees. We will do so until we are home with the Lord. We are new creations (2 Cor. 5:17), but we are incarcerated in unredeemed flesh (Roms. 6:12-14; 8:22-24; 12:1).  The things we want to do, we don't do; and the things we don't want to do, we do (Roms. 7:13-20).  We can say with the Apostle Paul, "O wretched man am I" (Roms. 7:24).

When the gospel of grace apprehends our lives and regenerates us, one of the evidences is to repent from sin. Repentance, that powerful - truthful word, has almost been exiled and excused from most church pulpits, elder meetings, prayer gatherings, and worship services today.  As one pastor told me a few years ago: "we don't talk about repentance anymore for we desire to be more 'grace centered' in this church."  I don't know about you beloved, but I sin far too easily; I have a PhD in rationalizing it in my life.  My sinful soul tries to excuse and spin the sin so that I fail to daily repent. My own heart can deceive me; and when I think I am victorious in a certain area of my life, Solomon's words quickly humble when he says: even "the thought of foolishness is sin" (Prov. 24:9).  IOW, I haven't arrived in conquering the daily tug of sin by a long shot in my life; and that is why my only hope for eternity, and for today, is the grace that is in Christ Jesus my Lord.  Do you feel the same way too?

Shall We Go On Sinning that Grace May Abound? May It Never Be
Though we have entered into our eternal rest by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8f) - we must never forget that grace never winks at sin; that grace never leads us to fulfilling further ungodliness and worldly desires (Titus 2:12); that grace doesn't indulge the flesh (Romans 6:1f); or cherish iniquity (Psalm 66:18; Heb. 11:25f). But that grace ultimately doesn't justify sin and calls all who know its voice to turn from their sin and to turn to God - repentance. Metonoia is the Greek term and it means a complete change of mind; an about face; literally all we believe in regards to how we behave.

We Can't Negotiate with Sin
I'm not strong enough to think I can negotiate with sin... are you? We must by God's grace, adhere Paul's command to young, timid Timothy when he says, "flee youthful lust and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart" (2 Tim. 2:22). To flee here means to be a "fugitive from." IOW, don't let sin catch us, flee it, run from it. Paul talked of a "repentance without regret" and a "godly sorrow that leads to repentance" accompanying our salvation (2 Cor. 7:9f). And finally Peter tells us that, "the Lord... not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). So whether it be our salvation or our daily sanctification, it is all of grace and evidenced by repentance.

Matthew Mead insightfully says,
"If sin be as terrible as you say it is why then are our lives not lived more holy; and if sin is not as terrible as you say it is, why then do you preach against it with such fury?"
Truth or Consequences
When sin goes on ignored in any of our lives, without our consciences being pricked and our hearts numb to its practice, then we can become a little more hardened and dull to the Holy Spirit's convicting power in our lives. Sin can cause the Holy Spirit to be grieved (Eph. 4:30); our prayers to go unanswered (1 Peter 3:7); stifle our service (1 Cor. 9:27); causes our praise to be unacceptable (Psalm 33:1); withholds God's blessing from us (Jer. 5:25); forfeits our joy (Psalm 32:3-4; 51:12); hinders our spiritual growth (1 Cor. 3:1-3); causes our fellowship to become strained and disingenuous (1 Cor. 3:10:21; 11:28f); and most paramount, God to be dishonored (1 Cor. 6:19f). Sin causes the whole church to suffer (1 Cor. 12:26); provokes possible discipline (Matt. 18:15-20); and God to chasten our lives (Heb. 12:1-12).

Is it any wonder that the great Puritan preacher, Thomas Watson, said "that a sign of sanctification is a hatred of who not only leaves sin, but loathes it." That is precisely why Solomon wrote in Proverbs 28:13, "He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes [repentance] them will find compassion." IOW, unconfessed sin, God will uncover; he who uncovers his sin, God will cover.

There are three categories of sin we find in Scripture:
1. Secret sin - Psalm 19:12f, 139:23f

2. Private sin - Matt. 5:23f, Romans 12:18, Matt. 6:14f

3. Public sin - Acts 5:1-11, I Cor. 5:4, Gal. 2:12-15, I Tim. 5:20, Matt. 18:15-20

What then constitutes true repentance from sin? What are the elements of that repentance and how are they to be executed?
1. Conviction of sin - John 16:8

2. Contrition over sin - Psalm 51:17, 2 Cor. 7:8-11, Psalm 38:18, Ez. 43:10

3. Confession of sin - James 5:16, Psalm 32:5, Neh. 9:2

4. Conversion from sin - Romans 6:12f, Ez. 14:6, Is.55:7, Acts 3:26
There is the shame of our sin; the sorrow over our sin; the confessing of it to those whom we have wounded; and finally the turning from our sin as the true sign of our salvation in Christ. Repentance; Restoration; Restitution; Reconciliation.

Oh beloved, may we each make the grace-empowered choices to walk daily in the joy of repentance and prove our calling and election to be sure (2 Peter 1:4-12).


Jeremy Weaver said...

Good post Steve.
I enjoyed it as much as being convicted is enjoyable!
Thank you.

mxu said...

Good post, I've linked it

Only thing I was kind of annoyed at was that I needed to look up a lot of verses. Couldn't you have copied them out? =p

It was still a good post

Matthew2323 said...

The Apostle Paul lists 7 marks of repentance in 2 Corinthians 7:11.

For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.

A powerful and convicting volume on this subject was written by Richard Owen Roberts entitled, "Repentance: The First Word of the Gospel."

James Spurgeon said...

Ouch. Thank-you. Right on.

Bhedr said...

I am glad you mentioned Metonia as it is a change of heart, soul, and mind.

The prodigal son is our best example of true repentance and faith: When he repented in the mind his first thought was of his Fathers house and the goodness there and then he said,"I perish with hunger!" as he saw the consequences of what he did. Did he then say, "I will learn to do like my father did and be more like him and then one day he will see that I have turned over a new leaf and he will be impressed and pleased and will accept me back as one of his sons. Maybe I can even repay him for the wrong I have done and in my earnestness he will forgive me."?
I posted the rest on my blog as the comment was too long per engagement rules.

johnMark said...


I have a inquiry related to this great post involving a pragmatic practice that is common today. I am wondering your thoughts about calling folks to the altar. Not necessarily the altar call to the unrepentant, but see here:


Denise said...

Good for all to read....Convicts the reader that's for sure...and measures us--how AM I seeing my own sin?

Also good for others who seem to really not hate their sin, yet claim "Jesus is Lord".

Most professing Christians have not the right art of mortifying sin. All their attempts are to hide a lust, not to quench it. –Thomas Brooks

Remember this, nothing below the conquest of bosom sins can make a jubilee in the heart. It is not a man's whining and complaining over sin--but his mortifying of sin, which will make his life a paradise of pleasure! --Thomas Brooks

Anonymous said...

That was my weekly dose of the Law!

A great follow up to your post would be Romans 7...

" What I should do I do not, and what I shouldn't do, I do..."

" Wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Chris our Lord!"

And there's the gospel...Thanks be to God!

- Steve Martin

Only Look said...

The Prodigal son went home to his father and his shame was covered over and he was given eternal riches undeserved and that blessing is what encourages us not to sin the more I discover this wonderful grace given to you and I. This passage in Ezekiel 16 is a good study of the greater glory of the New Covenant that gives us hope in spite of our shame:

From Shame To Beauty To Greater Shame To Greater Beauty That Delivers Us From All Our Shame

Grace upon grace,


Shirley said...

This is soo timely for me...thank you,