Repentance is never a tool to get the victims of your heinous sins to quit calling you on it. It isn’t a tool to get out of earthly consequences. True repentance has only one object: to see the smiling face of our heavenly Father. Turn away from the rot and filth of every idol, and seek his face for we know that he is a God who abundantly pardons.
I don’t know the Duggars. Quite frankly, I’m a bit tired of hearing about them. Two weeks back, I had a vague notion about them having a bunch of kids and some kind of reality show. I wish that was still all that I knew.
But there is something quite disturbing in the air. I deal with it all the time. I have heard it repeated over and over again. It rears its ugly head every time a new scandal erupts. And it is utterly false.
It is the idea that repentance is the same thing as a carefully crafted statement accompanied by tears.
We forget that the first tears of remorse that we shed were by Cain. Esau wept tears of remorse.
In fact, Paul himself said that sorrow is NOT the same as repentance:
9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. (2Co 7:9-10 KJV)
His prayer was that the sorrow of the Corinthians would LEAD to repentance. Sorrow is something quite different than repentance.
Of course, this is no new insight. It was first published in 1583 in the Heidelberg Catechism:
Q&A 88: In how many things does true repentance consist? In two things: the dying of the old man and the quickening of the new.
Q&A 89: What is the dying of the old man? Heartfelt sorrow for sin, causing us to hate and turn from it always more and more.
Q&A 90: What is the quickening of the new man? Heartfelt joy in God through Christ, causing us to take delight in living according to the will of God in all good works.
Notice how beautifully repentance restores life!