Photo by Julio Rionaldo on Unsplash
I don’t hate my sin like I know Jesus calls me to. I compare and contrast. I downplay. I fail to see at times the far-reaching effects of sin. I fail to see that just as God has created us as communal beings, my sin is also communal and has a negative impact on my bride, kids, family, friends, church family, etc.
I want to be a man who continually believes and does what is right. I want to know the path of Jesus and walk in it intimately. I want to be like Nathaniel who Jesus described as “a man in whom there is no guile.” I want my private thought life, motives, and affections to more-and-more be in alignment with the profession of my lips. I want to grow in my love for Jesus so that I make excellent, Jesus-honoring decisions, as Paul prays for the saints in Philippi (see Philippians 1:9-11).
If I am to hate sin as I should — which I pray is increasingly true of me — then I need to be familiar with sinful responses to sin that exist, as well as the biblical characteristics of repentance.
What are some sinful responses to sin?
- Minimizing – comparing it to other sins.
- Rationalizing – we speak about motives and the conditions surrounding our sin in an effort to compel others to sympathize. Ed Welch says, “sin is madness or insanity. It is irrational, delusional, unreasonable. It makes absolutely no sense in light of God’s love towards us.”
- Blame-shifting – not taking ownership of sin but simply blaming someone else.
- Diversion – we were joking, someone misunderstood us.
- Partial confession – we only tell part of our sin.
- Mere confession – you name the sin but do not repent of it.
- Worldly grief – we regret the consequences of our sin. We don’t repent of our sin and put it to death because we only regret its effects, not the sin itself
- Victimization – we name someone else (parent, satan, past abuser) or something else (genes, culture, personality) as responsible for our sin
If we’re going to repent of our sin, what does repentance actually look like? In Repentance: Turning from Sin to God, Thomas Boston shares the following characteristics of repentance:
- Observation of sin (Acts 26:18; Luke 15:17). Without a sense of sin, there is no humiliation; without humiliation, there can be no repentance; and without repentance, there can be no escape from the wrath of God.
- Sorrow or remorse for sin (Ps 38:18; Isa 55:7).
- Confession of sin (Ps 32:5; James 5:16). Confession is agreement (homologeo – literally means to say the same thing and means to agree with someone). Confession should be voluntary, specific, sincere, and coupled with a resolution not to act on the specific sin again. Confession is also recognition of guilt and formal admission of this to God and any others wronged.
- Shamefulness of sin (Ezek 43:10; Luke 15:17-21).
- Hatred of sin (Ezek 36:31).
- Turning away from sin (Isa 55:7; Ezek 14:6; Hosea 6:1; Acts 26:20).