From Pastor Mark:

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 2 Corinthians 7:10

Repentance is a word that comes with a lot of baggage. Some think it means beating yourself up after you’ve done something wrong. Others think it just means determining not to fall into that particular sin again (good luck with that). And yet historic Christianity has always taught that repentance leads to freedom from guilt and shame and ultimately leads to a deeper appreciation for God’s love.

Today, I’d like to share some steps in the journey repentance.

1. Take Responsibility for your sin.

There can be no repentance without this crucial first step. You have to own what you have done. Repentance only begins when we stop blaming others and making excuses. Yes, life is hard and the temptations are great. I know exactly what you are going through. Some days I feel like I am in an all-out war with Satan. But, the fact is, we make choices every day. And we always choose what we believe will be most satisfying. Sadly, sin often deceives us into thinking it will satisfy. I cannot begin the process of grieving over my sin if I haven’t even owned my sin. The truth is, without a proper sense of the weightiness of our sin is, we can never comprehend the freedom of grace.

2. Identify the sin beneath the sin.

It’s not enough to just say, “I get angry because my kids don’t listen to me.” That’s how I try to justify my temper too. But, that’s just the surface problem. Yes, I want my kids to learn obedience and to trust me. But that’s not my root problem. My root problem is that I want to control my kids. I don’t just desire for them to obey, I demand that they obey. And when they don’t, it’s an assault on my pride. That bothers me.

You see, the heart of every sin is our attempt to play God and push him to the margins. Every time we sin, we act like we can be God. We say, I can take it from here God, I know how to rule my life, I know what will make me happy, thank you very much.

Do you know the sin beneath your sin? It’s not just that you are greedy or selfish or lustful. It’s probably much deeper than that. And often it takes loving community to help us discern our motives.

3. Expel the sin through the power of grief.

Repentance does not simply mean feeling the shame of our sin. If you have grieved over something you have done or has been done to you and it has led to despair or bitterness, that’s “worldly grief.” You haven’t actually repented. Godly grief always leads to freedom—“no regrets.”

Many of us get your identity from our morality. So, when we sin, we think, look what my sin did to my life. Or look at what my parents/children’s sin has done to my life. Look at what I must carry the rest of my life. There is a sense of grief, but it’s not godly grief. In essence, moral people say look what my sin costs me. Godly grief says look what my sin cost Christ. Look how it hurt him. Look how it made him suffer. And yet he did it because of his amazing love for me.

Godly grief leads to true repentance because it changes you from the inside out. It will remove the sinful motives and give you a heart of trust and love in the finished work of Christ. True repentance leads to a deeper cherishing of the sacrifice of Jesus. It becomes more precious to you. You have grieved over how much your sin cost Jesus, but you also marvel at how much Jesus gave up to free you from that sin. When you get to this place, you are experiencing salvation (and sanctification) without regret. That’s repentance.