Sorrow for Sin
James Smith, 1856
"I will be sorry for my sin!" Psalm 38:18
This is right, this is reasonable; but it is often difficult, for we are frequently more affected with the sins of others, than with our own.
"My sins!" What are they? — have you examined? — have you investigated? — have you tried to remember them?
There are heart sins. These perhaps never see the light; no eye rests on them, but the eye of God. Where would we hide our heads — if the sins of our hearts were published?
There are sins of the tongue, of the temper, and of the life.
There are sins into which we are betrayed, and sins more deliberately committed.
There are sins in the family, sins in the world, and sins in the service of God.
There are sins against man — and sins against God.
How numerous — how aggravated — how utterly inexcusable our sins are!
Some sin in the dark — but we sin in the light. Some sin against God's majesty — but we against God's mercy. The sins of some are against the Lawgiver — but ours are against the kind, the tender, the loving Father. Our sins are like scarlet and crimson! Our sins grieve the Holy Spirit, and dishonor the Eternal Father!
Our sins crucified and murdered the only begotten Son!
Our sins have marred creation, affected the course of providence, and done everything but baffle grace.
In size they are like the great mountains — and in number like the sands of the sea!
Every sin deserves Hell; what, then, must sins so numerous, so great, so aggravated as ours deserve?
Oh, that the Holy Spirit would give us a clear, correct,
and heart-affecting view of our sins! This would . . .
humble our pride,
destroy our self-righteousness, and
endear the precious, precious blood of Jesus more than ever!
Reader, has God ever shown you your sins in the light of his holy law? Have you ever seen your sins in the light of His countenance? Have you ever seen them in the agony and bloody sweat, in the cross and passion of the Son of God? It not, you will never be sorry for your sins, with that sorrow which works repentance unto life.
In order to carry out this purpose, and be sorry for our sins — we must have correct views of God's covenant character. While we look upon God simply as a Lawgiver, as one pledged to punish our sins — we shall be filled with self-pity, alarm, and concern to escape punishment; but we shall not be sorry for our sins. But if we see that God is love — that it goes to his heart to punish us for our sins — that, rather than do so, he will deliver up his only begotten and well-beloved Son for us — if we hear his loving voice warning us, expostulating with us, and beseeching us to be reconciled to him — if we see that our sins wound his heart — and yet he pities and pardons us — then we shall be prepared to be sorry for our sins.
It is love, the free, infinite, and eternal love of God .
which breaks the heart,
which opens the sluices of repentance,
and which fills us with godly sorrow.
It is when I realize that my sins are against the law of love, and the God of love — that I am sorry for them. It is when I see that they pierced and wounded incarnate love in the person of Jesus, and that they grieve his loving heart still — that my sorrow for them is stirred. When I sit on the brow of Calvary, and witness the sorrow, the pain, the death-throes of the Son of God, and realize that my sins were the procuring cause of all — then my heart breaks, then I weep, then I mourn for him as one who mourns for his only son, and am in bitterness as one that is in bitterness for his first-born — I am sorry for my sin.
Reader, are you acquainted with sorrow for sin? Has the fear of Hell been taken away — has the assurance of Heaven been given you — and yet have you felt as if your heart would break with grief on account of sin? Evangelical repentance, the repentance which is unto life, and which needs not to be repented of — is heart sorrow for pardoned sin — sin that cannot damn us — sin that will not turn away the love of God from us. It is the child weeping because he has grieved his Father — affected by his Father's love, which he has seen shining in his tears. To be sorry that I have incurred displeasure, and brought upon myself punishment, is one thing; and to be sorry that I have wounded the tender heart of God, is another. The former is sorrow for the effects of sin, and may be purely selfish; the latter is sorrow for the cause of sin — and flows from love to God in the soul.
If we are not sorry for our sin — we have no proof that God has pardoned our sin. And if God has indeed pardoned our sin — we shall not speak lightly of it, or turn it into jest. No; it will humble us, lay us in the dust, and make us loathe ourselves in our own sight!
The deeper our repentance — the sweeter the joys of pardon will be!
The greater our sorrow for sin — the more precious Jesus will be as our deliverer from sin!
The more pungent our grief at the cross — the warmer will be our zeal in the church, and the more careful our walk in the world.
Holy and ever-blessed Spirit, give us such a sight of sin, such a sense of the love of God, such a realization of pardon, and such fellowship with Christ in his sufferings — as shall cause us daily and hourly to say, "I will confess my iniquity — and be sorry for my sin!"