Benefits of Repentance
Brothers and Sisters,
This past Lord’s Day we reflected on the fact that there is a difference between godly repentance and superficial repentance. The difference is the work of God in us. We ever need to remember that there is joy in repentance. Spirit-given joy due to Spirit given power to turn away from sin and to turn to Jesus Christ. David Murray in his wonderful book Happy Christian offers some of the good results of sins that are truly repented of and forgiven. He writes:
Consider some of the good results of sin that is repented of and forgiven:
We are humbled. When we fall into sin, we realize our pathetic weakness and vulnerability. We are not as strong and impregnable as we thought we were.
We are sensitized. We often fall into sin when we are spiritually hard and cold, but when we are humbled and broken, our spiritual senses are revived and restimulated, making us tender and sensitive again to God’s Word and Spirit.
We are silenced. We so easily get arrogant, self-confident, and full of ourselves, with an opinion on everyone and everything. But when we are convicted of our sin, we talk less favorably of ourselves and less judgmentally of others.
We are drawn nearer. Having wandered slowly and imperceptibly away from the Lord, we are now shocked to see how far we have traveled from Him, how distant we have become. We find ourselves longing for the nearer presence of the Lord again as He begins to woo us back to Himself.
We are dependent. Sin is usually the result of relying on our own strength and wisdom and failing to pray, “Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.” When we are convicted by God’s Spirit, we learn to depend on the Lord like a little baby on her mother. Looking away from ourselves, we do nothing without seeking God’s help and blessing.
We are careful. Often our sin comes about when we have been spiritually careless. We’ve played with temptation. We’ve walked too close to the edge, then fallen over. Now our scars and memories make us much more cautious about letting even the first thought of sin lodge in our minds and hearts. We run away from the edge of the cliff.
We hate sin. When we see the evil of sin and the misery it produces, we no longer view it as harmless or humorous. We hate it with a passion and want to kill it at the roots.
We fight the Devil. Looking back on our sin, we see the role the Devil played. He was well disguised, for sure, but now we see him unmasked in all his hideous ugliness. We resolve to go to war with him and never again to let him seduce us.
We are disciplined. When we retrace our steps, we recognize that we had become irregular and halfhearted in our Bible reading, prayer, family worship, and church attendance. We now realize how much we need to use these divine means to keep us on the right track and become much more regular and disciplined in our daily and weekly use of these resources.
We love Christ. Whether or however we loved Jesus before, we love Him all the more now. He who has been forgiven much, the same loves much.
We are thankful. We are even more thankful for Christ’s atoning work and gracious salvation. We love His cross; we love His mercy; we love His love. And we’re even thankful for the Holy Spirit who pained us for our sin.
We are equipped. Having experienced the power of the gospel to forgive and restore, we are better able to draw alongside others and skillfully apply the gospel to their sinful failings and faults.
We long for heaven. Oh, to be free from sin. Oh, to never want to sin. Oh, to be with and like Jesus.
[David Murray, The Happy Christian: Ten Ways to Be a Joyful Believer in a Gloomy World (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2015), 221-223.]
As we continue to look back on 1 Kings 19 where we see Ahab and Israel’s superficial repentance, let us remember that sadly, we too have at times offered a superficial repentance. Let’s pray that God would grant us the grace of sincere repentance and to know the great joy sincere repentance brings.
Warmly in Christ,