August 30, 2011

To repent is one of the highest virtues.  True repentance requires all of your self: the intellect, to recognize the moral laws that have been broken; the soul, to come with a contrite and broken spirit; the heart, to jump over the chasm of fear to an unknown of punishment; and sometimes even the body, to prostrate on your knees to symbolize your weakness and submission.

But because of this, when any part of us is defective, we cannot bring forth true repentance.  Only a good man can truly repent; but a good man has nothing to repent of.  A bad man, who has plenty to repent of, cannot repent for the failing of his intellect, his soul or his heart.   He will suppress the knowledge of the moral law, denying its existence or its authority over him.  He will not come contritely, but rather try to march in with pomp through the gates of heaven, which will be shut and denied him.  He will be kept bound by the fear of losing his idols, the false gods that bring him comfort.  But what man can say that he is not this bad man?  Who can dare claim that he acknowledges his sins or recognizes the laws that he is constantly breaking?  Who can claim to have never approached the throne of grace as if it was a throne of works?  Who can claim that he has not shrunk back in fear from the light?  For no one is righteous; not even one.

We need help from the outside.  We need grace, to clear away the haze in our minds, that will help us see the futility of our ways, the offensiveness of our sins and our attempts at good deeds (for even our righteous deeds are done out of selfishness or in vain attempts to attain right standing before God).  We need grace that heals our souls, making it whole yet soft, thereby making it able to bend and be contrite.  We need grace to heal our hearts, the love that casts out fear, the love that proclaims we are sons, so that we will not shrink back but to truly repent, to truly love God.  Only when grace touches us are we able to begin the movement of repentance.  And when we do make this movement, we realize that the price has already been fully paid, that we are already forgiven!

Oh the wonders of the gospel!  What can make a wretch like me be called a son of God?  The longer we gaze into it, the more we realize how profound it is.


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