Creative Commons: Epignosis
As we continue in this series on the war on sin, I want to discuss a right action and plan for us when we fall short of the Lord’s command and actually sin. Of course, such an action is not rare for the believer. Think about the following scenario: The believer is in a battle against the world, the flesh and the devil. This individual finds himself in a tempting situation and fails in his attempt to refuse sin, as he is lured away and then “enticed by his own desire” (James 1:14). Sin has been committed. What now? The wound is there, it is too late to prevent it. Is there any hope?
Yes, there is!
This leads us to another critical strategy for fighting sin, and that is repenting from sin. Though the believer must fight against sin by recognising sin, replacing sin, and refusing sin. The believer will not be free from its presence and influence until they are glorified. Even in the midst of the battle, the believer will still sin. But this does not mean the war is over, it is then the believer is to repent. Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, we are to recognise that our sin is against the Lord and we are to respond with swift and genuine repentance.
Biblical repentance is not mere regret or a desire to change because you were caught; repentance is turning from our sin and turning to the Lord. Sadly, such a biblical definition is substituted for sorrow. John MacArthur strongly states,
“Human sorrow is unsanctified remorse and has no redemptive capability. It is nothing more than the wounded pride of getting caught in a sin and having one’s lusts go unfulfilled. That kind of sorrow leads only to guilt, shame, despair, depression, self-pity, and hopelessness.”
Sorrow is essential when it comes to repentance, but it must be a biblical sorrow (cf. 2 Cor. 7:9-11). The reality is, all of us sin. Despite the amount of spiritual discipline in our lives, we do fall short and sin. This is where God calls for us to repent. The apostle John said, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Repentance is a crucial part of our strategy in fighting against sin. May we by God’s grace confess our sin to the Lord for what it is, forsake it and follow Him. This must be an ongoing action that is “continued through the whole course of our lives” (The London Baptist Confession, 15:4 ).
 MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1743
Thanks Andrew – important point. Without repentance, we are lost. You make a good point about repentance being far more than “mere regret.” I quoted Thomas Boston on this about 12 months ago here.
“Convictions and legal qualms of the conscience are not repentance: for they do not qualify the subject for it, and that in part only . . .”
Andrew Courtis (Author)
Excellent quote. I greatly appreciate Thomas Boston. Another puritan who I love on the topic of repentance is Thomas Watson. The Banner of Truth has published a great work of his under the title: The Doctrine of Repentance. It is an amazing work.