The True Penitent
by Toni Babcock 5/17/2013 / Christian Living
John Colquhoun (1748-1827), a Scottish minister of the gospel wrote: "The whole life of the true penitent is a continual warfare. During this warfare he must fight many battles. Sometimes he gains the victory and sometimes he loses. If he loses he must renew the fight: if he gains, he must pursue the victory and prepare for a new encounter. But he should always be of good courage and maintain his conflicts resolutely, for though he may lose a particular battle, yet he shall be more than a conqueror at last."
The following points are based on Colquhoun's biblical view of true repentance, and I review them briefly here to encourage and strengthen all battled scarred followers of Jesus Christ. Be encouraged that God's Holy Spirit is at work in you as a believer if:
1. You are being called to turn away from sin as God reveals the need daily. You are prone to feel the hatefulness of your iniquity and desire deliverance from sin whenever it is discovered. The Holy Spirit presses in upon you with His convictions of sin to bring about the image of Christ.
2. You practice an abasement of mind before God, and generally esteem others better than yourself. You understand your inability apart from God to do anything spiritually good. You desire that Christ have all the power and that He get all the glory in your deliverance from sin and its condemnation.
3. You exercise a godly sorrow for sin, primarily because you have offended the God who loves you in Christ, and because your sins nailed Christ to the cross. Your sorrow springs from the grace of God's redeeming mercy which you have apprehended through faith. This is a gift of God.
4. You experience a universal sorrow for sin. You are not only grieved by your own sin, but by sin in the world - all its causes and effects. You long for Christ to return and make things right in the world.
5. You have a true sense of sin that is a result of believing the gospel. Colquhoun writes, "but it is the province of the gospel only to paint sin in such colors as to make the true penitent ashamed, yea, even confounded because he bears the reproach of his youth." Thus the Christian acknowledges to God "the deep depravity of his nature and the aggravated transgressions of his life."
6. The Holy Spirit enables you to turn from all sin to God, namely from secret as well as open sin. You are just as concerned about the motions of sin within as the actual acting out of sin, knowing evil begins from within.
When overcome by sin, the Christian (through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit) renews the exercise of repentance and faith. To turn from sin becomes a principle, not an impossibility in the Christian's heart, born of the Holy Spirit. He is born again to a whole new way of thinking and responding to God. In time, through the power of the Holy Spirit, he or she discovers the true beauty of holiness.
Toni Babcock is a freelance Christian writer from South St. Paul. She enjoys writing short stories for children and young people, as well as memoirs, poetry and spiritual essays.