Finding the Courage to Repent of Sin

All of us have things that we wish were not true of us. Sometimes we call these “regrets.” And they usually fall into one or two categories: things we have done unintentionally and intentionally. We have all sinned intentionally and we have all sinned unintentionally. Some sins are omission, meaning, things you didn’t do that you should have done. Some sins are commission, meaning things you did that you shouldn’t have done. All of us have to deal with these categories of sin in our lives. The question is, will we respond to our own sin courageously, or will we run and hide from it and pretend it doesn’t exist, hoping it will go away?

The choice is ours and how we choose to respond will have a great impact on the future of our lives. One thing is for certain, it will take courage each day to face who we really are and ask God for the grace to become who he has created us to be.

In Jeremiah’s day the word of God came to him to remind the nation of Israel who they were before sin got the best of them. He tells Israel in Jeremiah 2:2 that he remembers their devotion to him in their youth and their undying love for him. He recalls in Jeremiah 2:3 how they were holy before him and brought to him as worship those things that mattered most to them. But along the way they incurred guilt and disaster came upon them because they started consuming the holy things in their lives for themselves.

Do you remember when you used to walk with the Lord in deep sincerity and give to him the things that were most precious to you? If you and I are going to face the sin in our lives courageously, we have to remember who we were before our disobedience got the best of us. We have to remember the sincerity of our original faith and go back to that place and rekindle that childlike heart for God again.

To get back to a place of childlike faith with Jesus, we have to be willing to take responsibility for how we drifted from God in the first place. God tells Israel in Jeremiah 2:13 that they have forsaken him. They abandoned God. They relied on themselves for their success and well-being. They saw themselves as their source of life. How about you? Are you drifting toward self-reliance?

God says to Israel in Jeremiah 2:17, “Have you not brought this upon yourself by forsaking the Lord your God, when he led you in the way?” That is a hard pill to swallow. I know it is for me when God speaks to me in this way. When God speaks to us in this way, what do we do?

I invite you to say, “My sin is my fault. I brought this upon myself.”

That statement of humility releases God’s grace in our lives and brings reconciliation to our souls.

Now I know in moments like this, it is easy to fall into the trap like Israel in Jeremiah 2:25 and say, “It is hopeless.” It is easy to say in times like this, “I am doomed to fall into my addictions, vices and self-destruction. I am hopeless!”

If you and I are going to face our sin courageously we have to realize it is never too late to repent.

God resists the proud, but he gives grace to the humble. Confession is humility in motion through words.

You might say, “Well, what if I choose not to repent, what will eventually occur?” Jeremiah tells us in Jeremiah 2:26, “As a thief is shamed when caught, so the house of Israel shall be shamed.”

God forgives repented sin. He exposes unrepented sin.

Tell yourself, My consequences will be worse if I wait to repent.

You need to remember judgment and shame on unconfessed sin increases with time.

One of the strangest verses in the Bible is Jeremiah 3:3 where God tells Israel, “You have the forehead of a whore; you refuse to be ashamed.” What does it mean to “have the forehead of a whore”? It simply means you are not sorry or ashamed for the sin you have committed. You are actually proud of it.

Part of repentance is asking God to make your heart soft toward him again so you can genuinely mean what you are saying to him about your sin. God told Israel in Jeremiah 3:10 that they did not return to him with their whole hearts, but in pretense. Meaning, they returned to God publicly for show but didn’t mean it, and God knew they didn’t mean it because they didn’t change.

God tells Israel in Jeremiah 3:13, “Only acknowledge your guilt.”

We can’t say to God, “I sinned, but …” We have to leave the “but” out.

When you and I repent, we have to truly acknowledge what we have done and not try to manage the consequences, but trust ourselves to a Creator who loves us and died for us.

I remember when I was 19 years old, 30 years ago now, I was in Florida for the summer and I was in a battle to go back to a sin God had freed me from. I felt like I had no choice. Then I felt the Lord say, “Fall to your knees and beg me to help you.” I fell to my knees and I said, “Lord, help me. I want this sin more than I want you. Would you change my heart and help me overcome this?”

Immediately, it left me.

It was one of those defining moments of my life.

I have never regretted that moment of repentance, and neither will you.

It has made all the difference in my life these past 30 years, and it can in yours as well.

Courageously face your sin today.

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Kelly M. Williams
Kelly M. Williams

Kelly M. Williams is senior pastor of Vanguard Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado.