True repentance will drive you to your knees and onto your face. It’s not just being sorry about what you’ve done, it’s about being mortified that you have grieved the Holy Spirit of God. Too much is being preached from pulpits today about repentance being about saying you’re sorry.
I’d like to think many pastors mean well when they give their explanations of repentance, likening it to a turning away from something to walk in the opposite direction. And there is truth in what they say. The reality is, though, true repentance is realizing that you have grieved the heart of the holy God. And that thought should absolutely wreck you.
You’ve undoubtedly heard the arguments for and against “cheap grace”. What I’ve not heard much about is “cheap repentance.” The difference between cheap and true repentance is what it does to your heart and what you think of God. If you think right about God, you will understand every time you sin against Him it is an offense unimaginable to us. Think of the worst wrong someone could commit against you. Whether it’s a cheating spouse, a lying friend, or a betrayal by someone you had trusted, we all suffer extreme hurt at some point in our lives. But no matter how deep that wound was, it is nothing compared to the pain experienced by God when we turn our backs on Him and betray His love and sacrifice for us.
True repentance feels the weight of sinning against a perfect Being. God created us to live in perfect fellowship with Him. Every time we fail to do so, we impose our will. When we are living in our will, we are outside of His. For all the time’s people ask, “What is God’s will for my life?”, the answer should be brilliantly obvious. If you want to know God’s will, live in His will. We live in His will when we refuse to exercise our will. And we exercise our will every time we sin.
That should break our hearts. It breaks the heart of God. It has become common to hear someone pray for God to break their hearts for what breaks His. Sin breaks the heart of God. Does it break yours? Does it break mine? True repentance dictates that it will.
We cannot live a life wholly pleasing to God unless our sin is so repulsive to us we fall not just to our knees, but on our faces in despair over the atrocity we have committed against God. Is murder worse than lying to get out of an engagement you don’t want to attend? In human logic, yes. But to God, every affront to His holiness is a vicious offense. A person experiencing true repentance will recognize that and be heartbroken. The desire to sin will so repulse them they will never want to engage in such behavior again. That’s what true repentance looks like. Is that the kind of repentance we are experiencing? If not, it’s time we decide how serious we are about living our lives wholly devoted to the will of God. We need to feel the weight of our sin and the utter horror it is to our holy God. And we should repent in such a way we never desire sin again.