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Reckoning with Repentance

Reckoning with Repentance

By: Alistair Begg - June 29, 2023

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

Romans 6:1-2

In Christ we find ultimate happiness. Peter tells us that our belief in Jesus can lead us to “joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:8). But it’s not possible to be happy in Jesus while living in sin. To borrow the image of Psalm 24, how often do we attempt to ascend the hill of the Lord, in corporate or private worship, with dirty hands and hearts, wondering why the word of God doesn’t delight us in the midst of our sin? It’s spiritual insanity to think that we can rejoice in the Lord while seeking out pleasure in some hidden transgression.

As fallen creatures, we often develop patterns that trick us into thinking that we can make peace with our fallenness and can indulge some sin. Perhaps we have become accustomed to minimizing it or justifying it, so that we hardly even notice it. Yet Scripture knows no such pattern of thinking. David, for example, knew he was dirty and grimy before God, thoroughly permeated with sin: “I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). Elsewhere he asks the Lord, “Declare me innocent from hidden faults” (19:12). He knew he needed forgiveness from sins he didn’t even know about! But mercifully, David’s awareness of his own shortcomings led him to God, to whom he pleaded, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (51:10).

We need to recover this same disposition for our daily walk with Christ. Repentance isn’t a one-time event. We must continually battle sin. We must repeatedly turn away from temptation and look to Christ. We must press on to know Him better, so that He is ever more and more attractive to us than fleeting pleasures and sordid desires.

If you are a Christian, you have already died to sin. God has already granted that you “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). Now, “by the Spirit,” you are called to “put to death the deeds of the body” (8:13)—that is, to take hold of the new life God has given you and slay the sins that still beset you. You have “died to sin.” Do not give in to the temptation of still living in it.

If you trust Christ, you are always acceptable to God. But when you give yourself fully to the cause of rooting out whatever weeds of sin keep creeping up, then you’ll reap a joy that is inexpressibly better than whatever false promises sin and temptation may make. Is there a sinful pattern you have grown used to? Is there something of which you need to repent, asking God to forgive you and change your heart? Joy will be found not in ignoring that prompting of the Spirit but in responding to it.

About the Author(s)
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Alistair Begg

Alistair Begg has been in pastoral ministry since 1975. Following graduation from The London School of Theology, he served eight years in Scotland at both Charlotte Chapel in Edinburgh and Hamilton Baptist Church. In 1983, he became the senior pastor at Parkside Church near Cleveland, Ohio. He has written several books and is heard daily and weekly on the radio program, Truth For Life. His Daily Devotionals are presented here via a syndication agreement.
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