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Thoughts on Repentance – Part 2

May 13, 2016

In my previous post I shared some quotes from and thoughts on Thomas Watson’s The Doctrine of Repentance.  In that post, I considered the first three of Watson’s six special ingredients of true repentance:

  1. sight of sin
  2. sorrow for sin
  3. confession of sin.

In this post, I would like to consider the last three special ingredients:

  1. shame for sin
  2. hatred for
  3. turning from sin.

According to Watson, “Repentance causes a holy bashfulness.  If Christ’s blood were not at the sinner’s heart, there would not so much blood come in the face.” In other words, if love for Christ were not in the heart of the believer there would be no embarrassed reddening of the face over sin. One would not know the shame of disobedience to a holy God.

Watson lists nine considerations about sin which may cause shame:

  1. Every sin makes us guilty, and guilt usually breeds shame. In regards to Adam, Watson shares these words, “While he kept the whiteness of the lily, he had not the blushing of the rose; but when he had deflowered his soul by sin, then he was ashamed.” If one remains innocent in regards to obedience to God, there will be no cause for shame but once sin enters the house shame is an ever present unwelcomed guest.
  2. In every sin there is much unthankfulness, and that is a matter of shame. “Unthankfulness is a sin so great that God himself stands amazed at it: ‘Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me’” (Is. 1:2).
  3. Sin has made us naked, and that may breed shame.
  4. Our sins have put Christ to shame, and should not we be ashamed? The very Son of God bore the shame of our sin and should it not shame us. “Did he wear the purple, and shall not our cheeks wear crimson? Who can behold the sun as it were blushing at Christ’s passion, and hiding itself in an eclipse, and his face not blush?”
  5. Many sins which we commit are by the special instigation of the devil, and should not this cause shame?
    • Judas’ betrayal of Christ (John 13:2)
    • Ananias’ lie (Acts 5:3)
    • Stirring of our passions (James 3:6)
  6. Sin, like Circe’s enchanting cup, turns men into beasts (Ps. 49:12), and is not that matter for shame?
    • Sinners compared to foxes (Luke 13:32)
    • Sinners compared to wolves (Matt. 7:15)
    • Sinners compared to asses (Job 11:12)
    • Sinners compared to swine (2 Peter 2:22)
  7. In every sin there is folly. Is it not foolish to labor for that which will perish or be taken away from us rather than that which will last forever? Is it not foolish to toil for temporary fulfillment rather than infinite satisfaction? In the words of Watson, “Is not he a fool who will believe a temptation before a promise? Is not he a fool who minds his recreation more than his salvation?”
  8. That which may make us blush is that the sins we commit are far worse than the sins of the heathen. “We act against more light.”
  9. Our sins are worse than the sins of the devils: the lapsed angels never sinned against Christ’s blood. “Christ died not for them. The medicine of his merit was never intended to heal them. But we have affronted and disparaged his blood by unbelief.”

The fifth ingredient of true repentance is hatred of sin. Watson lists a two-fold hatred of sin: hatred of abominations and hatred of enmity. “Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations” (Ezekiel 36:31). “A true penitent is a sin-loather.”  True repentance will lead to a sickness of the conscience over sin that will lead one to detest their sin. “One may leave sin for fear, as in a storm the plate and jewels are cast overboard, but the nauseating and loathing of sin argues a detestation of it. Christ will never be loved till sin is loathed.” Hatred of enmity is on the other side of this coin. Love for God will bring about a hated of sin.

How may one know if he truly hates sin?  Watson supplies an answer

  1. When a man’s spirit is set against sin.
  2. True hatred of sin is universal.
  3. True hatred against sin is against sin in all forms.
  4. True hatred is implacable.
  5. Where there is real hatred, we not only oppose sin in ourselves but in others too.

Watson’s sixth ingredient is turning from sin.  He writes, “Dying to sin is the life of repentance. The very day a Christian turns from sin he must enjoin himself a perpetual fast.  The eye must fast from impure glances.  The ear must fast from hearing slanders.  The tongue must fast from oaths.  The hands must fast from bribes. The feet must fast from the path of the harlot.  And the soul must fast from the love of wickedness.  This turning from sin implies a notable change.”

Watson gives five requirements for turning from sin to be rightly qualified:

  1. It must be a turning from sin with the heart. “God will have the whole heart turned from sin.  True repentance must have no reserves or inmates.”
  2. It must be a turning from all sin. “Every sin is abandoned: as Jehu would have all the priests of Baal slain (2 Kings 10:24) not one must escape so a true convert seeks the destruction of every lust.”
  3. It must be a turning from sin upon a spiritual ground. “Acts of sin may be restrained out of fear or design, but a true penitent turns from sin out of a religious principle, namely, love to God. Even if sin did not bear such bitter fruit, if death did not grow on this tree, a gracious soul would forsake it out of love to God.”
  4. It must be such a turning from sin as turns unto God. “It is not enough to forsake the devil’s quarters, but we must get under Christ’s banner and wear his colors.  The repenting prodigal did not only leave his harlots, but he arose and went to his father.”
  5. True turning from sin is such a turn as has no return. “He that returns to sin by implication charges God with some evil.”

Friends, may we ponder these words of Watson in regards to true repentance and examine our own lives in light of what God’s Word teaches us about repentance. Have we truly repented.? Is our repentance marked by sight of sin, sorrow for sin, confession of sin, shame for sin, hatred for sin, and turning from sin?

By His Grace Alone,

Josh