Life can get messy. If you’ve lived more than a few years, you know that’s true. Much of that messiness is the result of our own choices. Those messes, the consequences, are often what God uses to get our attention. As a result we experience sorrow and regret. But not all our responses are what God desires.
What does God desire in the midst of our messes? A feeling of sorrow or something more? And what kind of response leads to real change?
Is it regret or repentance?
Verse 3.8 says, “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance.”
When we sin we are to repent and go to God and anyone else we have sinned against and seek forgiveness. When we do 1 John 1.9 says:
“He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
But what is repentance? Genuine biblical repentance includes sorrow over our sin and a willingness to admit and take responsibility for our actions. We don’t earn forgiveness because we do things to somehow atone for our sins, but when we have genuinely repented, there will be a change in our behavior. At times, that should include making restitution for wrongs done.
Sorry Because of Consequences
Too often we are only sorry because we don’t like the consequences of our sin (broken relationships, punishment, or losses of different kinds), rather than experiencing godly sorrow and genuine repentance. Godly sorrow is a brokenness over our sin. Like David, it’s a realization that we have sinned, first and foremost, against God.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
4 Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight (Ps. 51.2-4a).
Sin is a failure to trust and obey God and a sign of rebellion against Him. We’re going our own way, trusting in ourselves, determined to have life on our own terms. Repentance is a change of heart that leads to a change of direction. We turn 180° from going our way to going His way. So while change does not earn us forgiveness, it is the fruit of genuine repentance.
Today’s Other Readings:
It didn’t take long for sin to take its toll, did it? Chapter 6.5-6 says:
“Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.”
This is sometimes called “total depravity.” Even though sin doesn’t make us all as bad as we could be, it makes us all as bad as we need to be to deserve an eternity separated from Him.
God is still grieved over sin today. All too often we mistakenly believe that when we sin, Continue reading