In these bulletin articles, we’ve been going through a list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism, published in the 17th Century. Recently, we’ve been looking at the mediation Christ makes for his church and we’ve seen that part of Christ’s mediation is granting repentance. We then learnt that repentance involves sensing the danger of sin, the filthiness of sin and apprehending God’s mercy. But what else does repentance involve?
Repentance includes a grieving over sin.
We are all acquainted with the subject of grief, some more than others. Grief is an intense sorrow that is usually associated with the death of a loved one.
But should the sinner grieve about his sin? Yes! After all, his sin means certain death and judgement for a loved one – himself!
The Bible speaks plainly about the death the sinner deserves for sin. The apostle Paul tells the church in Rome about his death through sin: ‘Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death’ (Romans 7:9-11).
The Bible also speaks about the second death the sinner deserves. The apostle John writes: ‘But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars– they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the the second death’ (Revelation 21:8).
So it is not surprising that the repentant sinner grieves. He understands the deathly consequences of his sin and begins to mourn for his own sinful soul.
And throughout history, repentant sinners have grieved. God himself describes the grieving repentance of the Israelites: ‘I have surely heard Ephraim’s moaning: ‘You disciplined me like an unruly calf, and I have been disciplined. Restore me, and I will return, because you are the LORD my God. After I strayed, I repented; after I came to understand, I beat my breast. I was ashamed and humiliated because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’ (Jeremiah 31:18-19).
Ezra also shows grief over sin: ‘When I heard this, I tore my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled. Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel gathered around me because of this unfaithfulness of the exiles. And I sat there appalled until the evening sacrifice. Then, at the evening sacrifice, I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the LORD my God and prayed: “I am too ashamed and disgraced, my God, to lift up my face to you, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens’ (Ezra 9:3-6).
So, have you grieved in repentance over your sin and the death it brings? Have you trusted in Christ so that you have eternal life?