Removing Impediments to Repentance

In looking forward to our church's prayer of repentance service this Sunday evening, I'm considering the great Puritan Thomas Watson's thoughts on the entrapments that hold us back from the great grace of repentance.

1. When we do not understand that we need repentance.
We say with the Laodicean's, "I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked." (Rev. 3.17)

2. When we see repentance as easy.
This is a fire-insurance mentality, like when a child claims, "I said I was sorry!" while the hard heart remains. The root of sin is our wretched desires, and that root is not dug out easily.

3. When we presume on God's mercy.
Similar to #2, this thinking forgets Psalm 130.4: "
But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared." Repentance means change.

4. When we are too lazy to repent.
In Watson's words, "They had rather go sleeping to hell than weeping to heaven." In this mindset, the heart-searching of repentance seems tedious and not worth the effort.

5. When we still enjoy our sin.
Watson again: "In true repentance there must be a grieving for sin, but how can one grieve for that which he loves?"

6. When repentance seems like a drag.
Watson: "[Repentance] does not crucify but clarify our joy, and takes it off from the fulsome lees of sin." What are "fulsome lees": fulsome - excessive flattery; lees - the bad wine at the bottom of the barrel. In other words, sin isn't that great, but is rather the poison that keeps us from the true and lasting joys of the gospel.

7. When we are despondent and without hope.
This is the mind that claims, "I am too bad; God will not forgive." Watson reminds, "God counts His mercy His glory." Be reminded, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1.9)

8. When we assume that God will not punish sin.
We find this attitude in Psalm 10.11, "He says in his heart, "God has forgotten,
he has hidden his face, he will never see it." Watson says, "because [God] forbears to punish they forbear to repent." No fear of the Lord, no repentance.

9. When we fear what others will think of our repentance.
Watson is refreshingly clear: "If you cannot bear a reproach for religion, never call yourself a Christian." As I read this morning in Isaiah 8, "2 Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. 13But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. 14 And he will become a sanctuary..."

10. When we have an immoderate love of the world.
Like those Jesus described in Luke 14.18-19, our concerns for the world numb any concern for our soul. And that is dangerous.

May God remove the obstacles!

No comments: