When confronted about his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah, did David say this to Nathan the prophet? “I apologize to … for how distracting and divisive this has been.” Are these the words of Paul to Jesus on the road to Damascus? Yet this insult has been used in place of repentance several times recently.
First, true repentance requires understanding God’s holiness. There are books, even sets of books on the subject. It is the emphasis of the Law God gave to Israel on Sinai.
Leviticus 11:45 You are to be holy, because I am holy, is one of the most repeated phrases in the entire Bible.
Because we are sinners, our sin needs to be atoned for. That sin is the reason for the entire sacrificial system; the tabernacle, the temple, and the death of Christ on the cross.
Second, true repentance requires understanding what sin is. Sin separates us from God. Sin is far more than a “distraction,” or “divisive.” For the wages of sin is death.
It is usually easy to see what we might think is sin in someone else. But true repentance is not repenting of someone else’s sin. It is confessing our own sin. True repentance understands sin, confesses that sin, and forsakes that sin.
1 John 1:9
If we make it our habit to confess our sins, in his faithful righteousness he forgives us for those sins and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.
Confess means to say the same thing about our sin that God says about our sin. It is neither just listing the sin, nor is it just doing penance. It means making the sin right. If something was stolen, then it must be returned. If you committed murder, then you must face the punishment for murder, up to and including your own death, if that is necessary to atone for that sin.
Whatever sin we committed, we must atone for that sin. Apologies which do not even acknowledge a sin put us in the same position as David when he attempted to cover up his sin. 2 Samuel 11:27 says, Meanwhile, what David had done grieved the Lord. God sent Nathan the prophet. The judgment for David’s sin was the death of the child. Later, when David sinned in numbering the people, 70,000 men died.
It is sad the others suffer the consequences of our unrepentant sin.
See to it, my brothers, that no evil, unbelieving heart is found in any of you, as shown by your turning away from the living God. Instead, continue to encourage one another every day, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, because we are the Messiah’s partners only if we hold on to our original confidence to the end. As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as they did when they provoked me.”
All Scripture quotes are from the ISV
Image Credit: Thou Art the Man. Artist: Peter Frederick Rothermel (1817-1895) Public Domain