Sin and Repentance
A friend – I should say ‘former friend’ because he won’t now meet with me – left his wife for another woman and, apparently, told his wife ‘I know it’s wrong, but I’ve said “Sorry” to God and moved on.’
- Repentance means changing one’s mind, so that one’s views, values, goals, and ways are changed, and one’s whole life is lived differently. Mind and judgement, will and affections, behavio[u]r and lifestyle, motives and plans; all are involved. Repenting means starting to live a new life… Feelings of remorse, self-reproach, and sorrow for sin generated by fear of punishment, without any wish or resolve to forsake sinning should not be confused with repentance.
(From ‘Repentance’ in Sproul’s ‘Reformation Study Bible’
Am I then hoist with my own petard? Have I been fooling myself about my own repentance, so that I am doomed and damned? What is the difference between me and Former Friend? Unsurprisingly, the Scripture is somewhat helpful:
- 1John 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
- 2:1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defence--Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4 The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.
John says some things that are frightening for every believer struggling with sin, for they could be read as if no true believer sins: ‘If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth…Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.’ Wow- no pressure, then.
The key is in 2:1. Let me paraphrase, just a little, to get to the heart of it: ‘My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not [walk in] sin. But if anybody does [fall into] sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defence…
- Hebrews 10:26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
So - that's OK then, and I can go on compacently with my own sins? By no means! God foribd! Theological expletive! Such complacency about my own sin would, indeed, be to walk in sin and come under the same condemnation. Dear reader, I have no excuse for such complacency. And nor, I suspect, do you.