Have you ever wandered what the difference is between having remorse over something and actually repenting for it?

Well on my journey of discovery I came across a startling realisation.  I did not trully understand the difference between the two.

So enter stage left, the wonderful Holy Spirit. Why I say wonderful is because it is the Holy Spirits job to lead us into the truth about all things that pertains to God.  Jesus is speaking to His disciples before he is crucified, we get to eavesdrop on the conversation in John.

John 16: 12-15

  • 12. “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.
  • 13. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
  • 14. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.
  • 15. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.

So here the bible tells us that one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is to lead us to the truth from Heaven. This is so exciting as we can trust that when he shows us something it is straight from the heart of our Father God. He wants us to know it and it is not only for our benefit but for the encouragement of other people as well.

So my revelation went something like this:

What is Remorse?

When we find ourselves in the midst of sin, we feel sad, and guilty. If we are endeavouring to walk with Christ we are sorry for what we have done. We might say to God  ” O God, Please forgive me”  but within a week, or even a few days we could find ourselves trapped right back in the same sin once again. Only this time, we are feeling a hundred times worse than we were the last time. I can say this as I speak with much experience in this area, unfortunately.

We then run to God again and repeat the same little prayer, “Father forgive me please”.

We could be on the repeat cycle for a long time with no lasting change in our actual behaviour.

 Why do we do this?

According to the dictionary there are three words in the Greek translation of the bible that denote Repentance.

The first being the verb – metamelomai – which means to have a change of mind, so that it produces a feeling of regret or remorse on account of the sin that you have just commited. This particular use of this word does show that you can have a change of mind, but it is not necessarily a change of heart.

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, God is all about changing our heart to reflect him.

 He wants our hearts to be surrendered to His purposes and plans for our lives. He wants us to have a change of heart in connection with our sin. So that the world will see how much He loves them through us, and will see His glory that He has placed in us.  John 17

 That is why it is so easy to find our selves on the repeat cycle when it comes to our sin, because we never have a change of heart.

Why don’t we have a change of heart?  The reasons are plentiful, but one of the biggest reasons is because we actually enjoy the sin that we keep running after.

 It might be that God has shown us through the Holy Spirit, that the words that come out of our mouths to other people are not bringing life to them but death, but because we feel vindicated by “speaking our minds”   we continue on our self righteous destructive path of sin.

It could be that we enjoy watching television shows that are not all that edifying to us.  We might enjoy watching the romances or stolen kisses or whatever it is.  The Holy Spirit has shown us that it is not edifying to our spirit and therefore should not continue to do it. We do, because we enjoy it.

The list is endless of the things that could trap us because we enjoy the sin. So we dance around the issue of our sin, giving it every other name under the sun instead of admitting that we continue in it because we enjoy it.  We probably feel remorseful for the continuation of the sin, but often times are not aware that we can break the destructive cycle of it.

How? By taking the next step, from being sorry for the sin that you are or have committed and feel bad about, to actually having a complete change of heart about the sin.

The bible gives a great example of someone who experienced remorse but never had a change of heart and therefore was lost to hell for eternity.

His name is Judas Iscariot. We all know him as the traitor, the one who betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, then identified him with a kiss. Such betrayal brought about a sense of deep remorse, but he never asked God to forgive him.

Matthew 27:1-5

  • Judas Hangs Himself
    • 1. Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death.
    • 2. They bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate, the governor.
    • 3. When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders.
    • 4. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”
    • 5. So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. 

    So from this passage of scripture we can learn a very valuable lesson.

    Just because you have remorse over something that you have done, does not absolve you from the eternal consequences of your sin.

    Only true repentence which is a change of heart, can remove the sin from you. In the word of God, the Apostle John tells us that  if we will repent of our sin, God is faithful and just and will forgive us of our sin.

    1 John 1: 5-10

    • 5. This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
    • 6. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.
    • 7. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
    • 8. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
    • 9. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
    • 10. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

    Today as you read this note, if you are playing around with sin in your life because you enjoy the thrill that it brings, whatever it is, please  take it to our Heavenly Father, don’t be a fence sitter and have to face the eternal consequenses of eternal seperation from God.  That is to such a high price to pay for a little bit of “enjoyment” now.

    Repent today, turn away from the sin that so easily entangles you and God promises to remove your sin from you. He will not hold it against you but cleanse you from it. He also promises to bring you into right standing with Him. All you have to do is take the step from remorse to true repentance.

    In my next post I will explore what it means to walk through true repentence.

    You can find the second part of this article here.

    Filed under: Discipleship