The Harm of Short-Cutting Repentance

When we are confronted with our sin, it hurts.  A flood of realization spills over us as we see how deluded we had been to think highly of ourselves.  Our conscience burns with the understanding that we have offended our holy King and the weight of shame presses hard against our chest.  Needless to say, these are not happy feelings, so, naturally, we want to escape them as soon as possible.  In following this impulse, we too often miss the benefit that comes with the process of repentance.

When you are confronted with your sin, as soon as you feel the pain of conviction, you could simply go to God, ask forgiveness, wash your hands and be done with it.  But that seems like short-cutting the biblical pattern.  Let’s look at 2 Samuel 12 and Psalm 51 to see David’s response to Nathan’s rebuke of his sin with Bathsheba.  What do we see David doing?

  1. He accepts Nathan’s rebuke – “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Sam. 12:13).
  2. He fasts and pleads with God to undo the consequences of his sin (vv. 16-17).
  3. He accepts the consequences of his sin with contentment (vv. 21-23).
  4. He confesses his sin – “Against you, you only, have I sinned” (Psalm 51:4).
  5. He prays for God’s cleansing from his sin (vv. 2, 7, 10).
  6. He prays for God to restore to him the joy of salvation (v. 12).
  7. He resolves to serve God actively – “I will teach transgressors your ways” (v. 13)
My point in drawing this out is to show that David’s repentance is thorough.  David is not just seeking to escape the suffering of conviction, that would be to waste his sinful failure.  Rather, he is taking the recognition of his sin as an opportunity to be humbled, to draw near to God, to have his conscience cleansed, and to have his joy in God returned so that he will serve the Lord as a changed man.
Please do not hear me say that we should wallow in our guilt and shame.  No, we should never forget our forgiveness in Christ, but we must realize that short-cutting the repentance process has us miss out on a more vibrant appreciation of God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice, as well a more drastic change in our spiritual growth.

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About Brent Osterberg

Ransomed sinner, husband to Keri, father to the kiddos three, associate pastor at Calvary Bible Church in Fort Worth, TX, and lover of most things epic. View all posts by Brent Osterberg

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