From Pastor Mark

Repentance is not just about changing your behavior. It’s about changing the motivations and desires of your heart. That’s what David is getting at in our fighter verse.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken
and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Psalm 51:17

He realizes that even the sacrifices that God commanded him to perform would actually not count in God’s eyes if they didn’t come from the right heart attitude.

That’s what God told his people through the prophet Isaiah when he said:
“What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts…Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me” Isaiah 1:11-13

What we must learn from this is that we need to prioritize inward repentance and not just outward repentance. Does God want you to stop doing certain destructive habits? Of course. But, the only lasting way true freedom is if your heart is broken over how your sin has offended and hurt God. Unless repentance leads to a sense of brokenness and contrition (humility), then you are in danger of self-righteousness setting in. You might begin to think that it’s through your amazing self-control that you have been able to break free from that sin struggle. Do you see it? The heart hasn’t experienced a change, even if the behavior has changed. You’ve just exchanged one idol for another.

Repentance involves sacrifice. Allowing our hearts to feel the horrors of our sin takes effort. Grieving over our sin takes effort. We are so inclined to do everything quickly that we cannot even fathom a process of repentance that takes time. But unless your heart has sacrificed something, you have not yet repented. It’s when we see just how much our sin cost Jesus that our hearts will begin to be changed. That’s what a “broken spirit” looks like.

And yet the good news is that we need not fear allowing our hearts to feel the weight of our sin. We need not fear brokenness because that is precisely the place that God meets us. God will not despise nor reject us in our brokenness. Actually, it’s the exact opposite.

“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” James 4:6

It is in our brokenness that we experience God’s grace. God wants to lavish the humble with his grace.

Christian, God desires not to despise you, but to love you. He wants your heart to feel the weight of sin so you can then feel the wonder of grace. Grace is always greater than our sin. The path to grace always starts in our hearts. When you experience inward repentance through brokenness, God gives the grace to experience outward repentance through freedom.