Since the decisive event of history has already taken place in the ministry, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ, all subsequent history is a kind of epilogue, an interval inserted by God’s mercy in order to allow men time for repentance, and, as such an epilogue, necessarily in a real sense short, even though it may take a very long time.
If God is in fact our Enemy with only destructive intentions toward us, why do we experience any good at all? It isn’t surprising that life is painful. What’s surprising is that life is joyful. What do our simple, daily joys mean? Is God pretending to be our Friend, is He setting us up for the ultimate nasty surprise? Or is God sending us signals every day that His heart is loving and kind, so kind that we can go back to Him in repentance and find His arms open to us?
The pleasure of sin is brief while the sorrow it produces lasts; the sorrow of repentance is brief, while the joy it produces lasts.
The motive for repentance is not only sorrow for sin but also a sense of the mercy of God in Christ. We have zero motivation to repent, unless we see the mercy of God awaiting us. Not the slap of God, but the embrace of God. Repentance is not just turning from sin, not even that primarily. Repentance is primarily turning to God, moment by moment, because He has promised His mercy to the penitent.
Sin forsaken is one of the best evidences of sin forgiven.
It is doubtless a most joyful thought that we have redemption through the blood of our adorable Savior. But I have no less comfort in the thought that He is exalted to give repentance and remission of sins… Repentance is in every view so desirable, so necessary, so suited to honor God, that I seek that above all. The tender heart, the broken and contrite spirit, are to me far above all the joys that I could ever hope for in this vale of tears. I long to be in my proper place, my hand on my mouth, and my mouth in the dust… I feel this to be safe ground. Here I cannot err.
The next time your heart is indifferent toward sin, think for a moment of what sin cost your Savior on the cross. Think about His lacerated back ripped open to the bone from the Roman scourge. Think how He suffered for a breath of air as He extended His bloody body up the vertical beam of the rugged cross. Think about the splinters that dug deeper into His freshly cut wounds with every movement. Think about the large spikes that pierced His hands and His feet penetrating deeply into nerve endings. Think of the slow suffocation as Jesus hung there in the nude, mocked by the onlookers. Jesus didn’t die for His own sin; He died for ours. “[He was] pierced through for our transgressions… [He was] crushed for our iniquities” (Isa. 53:5). Does the love of Christ compel you to turn from that which brought Him unspeakable anguish?
Why should all people repent? 1. It’s the gospel, 2. Christ suffered for your sins, 3. God commands us to be holy, 4. God hates sin, 5. Obedience is love for God, 6. Our sin affects others, 7. Work of the Holy Spirit, 8. Need for assurance, 9. Delight in God, 10. Desire to be used by God, 11. Subject to discipline, 12. Personal consequences, 13. Current and future blessings, 14. God’s glory.
Sin is powerful, even for those who have been reborn. Grace, however, is more powerful still. This is a true and trustworthy saying, that Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of which I am the chief (I Timothy 1:15). To diminish the power of grace is to diminish the scope of our own sin. Jesus, after all, didn’t come to save the polite, well-behaved people. He came to save His own, and gave them first repentant hearts.