Have you ever done something or said something you wished you wouldn’t have? Anyone reading this question should reply, “Yes”. This morning, I found myself wishing I hadn’t done something. I did something that I knew was wrong, but still chose to do it anyway. I sinned. I found myself being convicted this morning by my actions, and praying diligently for the mercy and forgiveness that I know I need from Jesus Christ. As I was praying, the word “repent” came into my mind.
We have all been in a situation where we know we shouldn’t but we choose to do it anyway, or say it- that is sin. My heart was heavy this morning; I was on the verge of tears, for grieving my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by what I had done. But I also knew that to truly repent I had to make a change. Being sorry for something is very different than repenting of a wrong or of the sin you have committed. Being sorry for something always reminds me of Scarlett in “Gone with the Wind.” Rhett Butler came to visit her at her Aunt Pitty Pats home, and she was crying and wailing for her current state. Rhett Butler said to her, “You’re like the thief who is sorry that he got caught, not that he stole.”
That led me to Paul’s second epistle to the Corinthians. He wrote, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner. What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear; what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” (2 Corinthians 7:10-11) Godly sorrow and worldly sorrow can also be described as “repentance” and “sorry”.
Judas was sorry for betraying Jesus, Peter was full of godly sorrow which led to repentance. There is a difference, and that was what the Lord wanted me to see today. I have done this before, this sin and this misdeed a few times, and said I was sorry. But today, the Lord showed me how grieved He was which led me to fall before Him in humility and ask for forgiveness. Judas was sorry that he had betrayed Jesus; the scriptures tell us that “when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself…” (Matthew 27:3(a). Judas’ repentance was the sorrow of the world that says, “Look at the mess I’m in.” Peter repented to the Lord and “changed direction”. One felt bad because of the mess he was in, but the other turned back on that which held him previously, determined to walk in a totally new direction. (Jon Courson New Testament Commentary)
When we truly repent we will see the errors and misdeeds of our ways and turn to the Lord God, asking for forgiveness, and seeking a change, a washing of ourselves. Sin leaves spots on our hearts, it draws us to our knees, and it seeks the One True God who can change us. Sorrow means pain, worldly sorrow produces pain because of the mess we are in, and godly sorrow produces pain for the sin, for the offense committed against God.
True repentance will be seen, it will be seen within our hearts. When we repent and we turn to God, He washes us clean. Only through true repentance can we be saved from the sins that we have committed. My kids used to tell me they were “sorry”- but it never meant anything to me unless I saw a change in them. God is no different with us. He knows if you truly repent of if you are just sorry. You can tell someone you are sorry for something, but unless you choose to repent of the wrong and change direction, you will keep on doing what you were doing and the cycle of sin in your life will continue. I know, because for years I have been “sorry” for this one sin in my life, and until today I had not repented of it.
Godly sorrow will begin to produce in you abhorrence for the sin that you are committing. You will hate the person you are while doing it, you will begin to be determined to enter upon a better course of life. And when true repentance comes, when godly sorrow leads you to the throne of God, you will be broken. Paul tells us that this will happen, that we will see the change in us because “this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner; what manner of diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication!” we will have.
Diligence in not turning back to the sin, clearing of ourselves- letting His forgiveness and mercy and grace wash us white as snow; indignation against the thought of sinning in that manner again, fearing that we may grieve Him who died for us, and a vehement desire and zeal towards God, vindication because we know that through true repentance we have been forgiven and this sin that once held us prisoner is now as far from us as the east is to the west.
When we sin against God and against our brothers, we are given a choice to either say we are sorry or to repent of the sin. His desire is to lead us to repentance, it is our choice whether or not we choose His life of forgiveness or we choose the sorrow that leads to death. Today, I am deeply grieved for the pain that I have caused my One True Love, and the sorrow that I experienced led me to my knees begging for a complete change in my heart. My one desire is to please Him, and Him alone, and in my sin I caused Him grief.
I seek a change, a turning around, a complete and total overhaul of my heart because of what I did. Not only do I need to humble myself and ask for forgiveness, but now I have to allow Him to cleanse me, to scrub my sinful heart clean again. He will do it; He will do the work and free me from this body of sin and death. We will find ourselves sinning on a daily basis, and He knows that, He died for our sins, (past, present and future) He desires to cleanse us from them- but the choice to be cleansed is ours. We can either say we are sorry, and continue doing what we are doing or we can repent. Today, I choose repentance. What do you choose?
Lord Jesus Christ, forgive me for the sins that I have committed against You and against my brothers and sisters. I desire to change, to be the woman You want me to be. Cleanse me and make me white as snow. Grant me forgiveness and set my feet upon the Rock, which is You. Let my heart be clay in Your hands, in Jesus Name. Amen and Amen.