20 March, 2013
The Doctrine of Repentance
By Thomas Watson, 1668
I wanted to find something on repentance but I needed it to be as close as possible to what I have personally learned from the Holy Spirit directly. I have read several version of true repentance, while they are all saying the same thing, but some are harder to understand and some leave room for guessing games. So, once again I have decided to g with someone you know by now if you are used to my Blog. Thomas Watson wrote this piece in 1668. As I read it today, I realize it is the same process the Spirit took me through, to enable me to understand why I had to go through the process of repentance, how it was done, who does what and what was the overall result. There is nothing like true repentance entering your heart to find out who you truly are in Him.
The NATURE of true repentance
I shall next show what gospel repentance is. Repentance is a grace of God's Spirit, whereby a sinner is inwardly humbled and outwardly reformed. For a further amplification, know that repentance is a spiritual medicine made up of six special ingredients:
1. Sight of sin
2. Sorrow for sin
3. Confession of sin
4. Shame for sin
5. Hatred for sin
6. Turning from sin
If any one ingredient is left out, it loses its virtue.
Ingredient 1. SIGHT of Sin
The first ingredient of Christ's gospel-medicine is eye-salve. "I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light" (Acts 26:17-18). It is the great thing noted in the prodigal's repentance: "he came to himself" (Luke ). He saw himself a sinner—and nothing but a sinner. Before a man can come to Christ—he must first come to himself. A man must first recognize and consider what his sin is, and know the plague of his heart—before he can be duly humbled for it.
The first thing God made was light. So the first thing in a penitent, is illumination: "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord" (Eph. 5:8). The eye is made both for seeing and weeping. Sin must first be seen—before it can be wept for. Hence I infer that where there is no sight of sin—there can be no repentance.
Many who can spy faults in others—see none in themselves. They cry that they have good hearts. Is it not strange that two should live together, and eat and drink together—yet not know each other? Such is the case of a sinner. His body and soul live together, work together—yet he is unacquainted with himself. He knows not his own heart, nor what a hell he carries about him. Under a veil—a deformed face is hidden. People are veiled over with ignorance and self-love; therefore they see not what deformed souls they have! The devil does with them as the trainer with the hawk. He covers their eyes, and carries them hooded to hell! "The sword will pierce his right eye!" (Zechariah 11:17) Men have insight enough into worldly matters—but the right eye of their mind is blind. They do not see any evil in sin; the sword has pierced their right eye!
Ingredient 2. SORROW for Sin
"I will be sorry for my sin." (Psalm 38:18) Ambrose calls sorrow the embittering of the soul. The Hebrew word "to be sorrowful" signifies "to have the soul, as it were, crucified". This must be in true repentance: "They shall look upon me whom they have pierced—and they shall mourn" (Zech. ), as if they did feel the nails of the cross sticking in their sides. A woman may as well expect to have a child without pangs—as one can have repentance without sorrow! He who can repent without sorrowing, suspect his repentance. Martyrs shed blood for Christ, and penitents shed tears for sin: "she stood at Jesus' feet weeping" (Luke ). See how this tear dropped from her heart. The sorrow of her heart—ran out at her eye!
The brazen laver for the priests to wash in (Exod. 30:18) typified a double laver: the laver of Christ's blood we must wash in by faith—and the laver of tears we must wash in by repentance. A true penitent labors to work his heart into a sorrowing frame. He blesses God when he can weep. He is glad of a rainy day, for he knows that it is a repentance he will have no cause to repent of. Though the bread of sorrow is bitter to the taste—yet it strengthens the heart (Psalm 104:15; 2 Cor. ).
This sorrow for sin is not superficial: it is a holy agony. It is called in scripture a breaking of the heart: "The sacrifices of God are a broken and a contrite heart" (Psalm 51:17); and arending of the heart: "Rend your heart" (Joel ). The expressions of smiting on the thigh (Jer. 31:19), beating on the breast (Luke ), putting on of sackcloth (Isaiah ), plucking off the hair (Ezra 9:3), all these are but outward signs of inward sorrow. This sorrow is:
(1) To make Christ precious. O how desirable is a Savior to a troubled soul! Now Christ is Christ indeed—and mercy is mercy indeed. Until the heart is full of sorrow for sin—it is not fit for Christ. How welcome is a surgeon—to a man who is bleeding from his wounds!
(2) To drive out sin. Sin breeds sorrow—and sorrow kills sin! Holy sorrow purges out the evil humours of the soul. It is said that the tears of vine-branches are good to cure the leprosy. However that may be, it is certain that the tears which drop from the penitential eye, will cure the leprosy of sin. The saltwater of tears—kills the worm of conscience.
(3) To make way for solid comfort. "Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy" (Psalm 126:5). The penitent has a wet sowing-time—but a delicious harvest. Repentance breaks the abscess of sin—and then the soul is at ease! Hannah, after weeping, went away and was no longer sad (1 Sam. ). God's troubling of the soul for sin, is like the angel's troubling of the pool (John 5:4), which made way for healing.
But not all sorrow evidences true repentance. There is as much difference between true and false sorrow—as between water in the spring, which is sweet—and water in the sea, which is briny. The apostle speaks of "godly sorrow" (2 Cor. 7:9). What is this godly sorrowing? There are six qualifications of it: