One of the fascinating and sometimes rather painful aspects of the Christian life is that of ‘defeat through triumph’. It is something I am learning more and more. In times of utter defeat against the lusts of my flesh and the assaults of the enemy it is helpful for one to run to Scripture, especially portions like Psalm 51. When we sin, and feel far from God we often foolishly feel like doing something to impress God- maybe I should fast to show God I am sorry, maybe I should read more Scripture to demonstrate my desire to change, maybe I should cry when I repent and work myself up emotionally a bit more… you name it… None of these things are wrong in and of themselves.
Surly fasting is good and right, and a spiritual discipline to be used in praying more earnestly and seeking the Lord’s face, and Scripture is vital to our sanctification (John17:17), and clearly tears of genuine repentance are good to see so long as they are a sign of what is happening inwardly (2 Cor 7:8-11). Notice though these things are all good in their place, but they do not earn favor with God. Listen to David as he Prays in Psalm 51:16, “For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering”… David realized that these things are pointless in trying to manipulate God into thinking we are ‘really really sorry this time’. But notice what David goes on to say in v17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise”. It is this attitude that shows a real sorrow over sin, and I don’t think it is something that is temporal, by that I mean, we don’t just feel this way for a moment, but the Christian life is one of contrition and brokenness. Blessed are the poor in spirit said Christ, blessed are those who mourn (Matthew 5:3-4)… I could go on.
Someone may say to me, ‘But Tyrell, look this spirit of brokenness and contrition is a work, it is something we are expected to do.” That is an interesting point and in answering it gives us some wonderful and terrible (in the sense of terror inspiring, I wanted to write ‘terrorful’) insights: Notice the words of Hebrews 12v17, “For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.” Notice how even with an appearance of contrition, that being tears, there is no genuine repentance. This is because ‘repentance’ is a gift from God (Acts11:17). Perhaps you find yourself not mourning over sin, one reason may be that like Esau, you have not been granted repentance, you wish to flee from the fire to come like the Pharisees who ran to John the Baptist, but you do not wish to have your evil nature changed, it is God’s wrath you fear, not your wicked nature you hate. Oh that you would throw yourself on the mercy of God and beg Him to remove the mask of your sin and show you how abhorable it truly is.< But perhaps you are a believer and thus have been granted repentance, well to you, know that to be in such a state that one is not wounded to the heart by sin, is a very serious place to be, a place where security of Salvation may be a fact, but assurance of Salvation cannot be had. Mortify the flesh by the Spirit (Romans 8:13). Set your mind on heavenly things, be meditating day and night on the Lord, be sure that you are fighting all sins in your life, and not just those that trouble you. Know that He will complete that good work which He began in you because you are Christ’s (Phil 1:6).