‘But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities. ‘ Isaiah 64:6–7
Suggested Further Reading: Acts 26:9–20
When you really feel your sinfulness, and mourn it, do not stop here; never give yourself any rest till you know that you are delivered from it, for it is one thing to say ‘Ah, I do sin,’ but it is quite another thing to say ‘He has saved me from my sin.’ It is one thing to have a repentance which makes you leave the sin you loved before, and another thing to talk about repentance. Ah, I have sometimes seen a child of God when he has sinned, and I have seen his broken-hearted actions, and heard his piteous confessions, and I can say that my heart goes out toward the man in whom there are tears of repentance of the right kind. It is one of the fairest sights that is seen under heaven when a believer who has gone wrong is willing to say, ‘I have sinned,’ and when he no more sets himself proudly up against his God, but humbles himself like a little child. Such a man as that shall be exalted. But I have seen—and it is a fearful sight to see—I have seen one who can sin and repent, and sin and repent. O that dry-eyed repentance is a damnable repentance! Take heed of it, brethren. I have known a man who professed to have been converted years and years ago, who, ever since that pretended conversion, has lived in a known sin, and yet he thinks he is a child of God because after he has fallen into the sin he has a little season of darkness arising from his conscience, but he quiets that conscience after a time, and presumptuously says, ‘I will not give up my hope.’ Oh, that is an awful thing. God deliver you from dry-eyed repentance, for it is no repentance.
For meditation: Repentance is a change of mind; are you tempted to repent of your repentance? That would be an attempt to short-change God and can easily develop into a vicious circle. For God’s attitude to such behaviour see Jeremiah 34:12–17.
Sermon no. 437
2 March (1862)