Judges 10:15, 16
And the children of Israel said to the LORD, We have sinned: do you to us whatever seems good to you; deliver us only, we pray you…
I. REPENTANCE INVOLVES CONFESSION OF SIN. The people admit their guilt to themselves and declare it frankly to God.
1. We must confess sin. We cannot turn from sin till we are conscious of sin. God will not forgive our sin till we confess our guilt. These two things, the self-knowledge and the self-revelation before God, which are implied in confession, must be found in true repentance. Pride would simply forget the past, but this cannot be forgotten till it is forgiven, nor forgiven till it is confessed (1 John 1:9).
2. The confession must be to God; because
(1) it is against God that sin is committed;
(2) he alone can forgive sin;
(3) we have no warrant for believing that he delegates this Divine prerogative to any human deputy.
II. REPENTANCE INVOLVES SUBMISSION TO GOD. No repentance is complete which does not involve self-renunciation. This is necessary,
(1) because, since sin arises from self-will and rebellion against the will of God, the return from sin must be marked by a return to obedience;
(2) because the penitent is conscious of his utter ill desert, and of his absolute dependence on the mercy of God, so that he dares claim nothing but what God may think fit to give him, and knows that at the worst this can be no harder than what he merits; and
(3) because repentance involves the admission that while we were sinful and foolish in forsaking God, he was always good to us, and will never do for us anything short of what is best. Repentance thus recognises again the despised fatherhood of God, and willingly trusts to his grace.
III. REPENTANCE INVOLVES PRACTICAL AMENDMENT. The children of Israel put away the strange gods from among them, and served the Lord. If repentance is genuine it will show itself in conduct - it will bring forth fruits (Matthew 3:8). This does not imply -
1. That we must complete the reformation of our own lives before God will forgive us, because
(1) that is impossible (Jeremiah 13:23); and
(2) the very object of the gospel is to do this - i.e. to save us from our sins (Acts 3:26).
2. Neither does it imply that any measure of reformation will be regarded as penance, as sacrifice, as a meritorious work securing forgiveness, since the essence of forgiveness lies in its freeness. But it implies that the genuineness of repentance must be tested by its effects. Repentance is not a mere feeling of grief; it is not seated in the emotions, but in the will. It is a change of desire, and the wish to do better. This is active, and must manifest itself in conduct. The conduct will be twofold:
(1) the giving up of old evil ways, and
(2) the commencement of the service of God.
IV. REPENTANCE IS FOLLOWED BY TOKENS OF GOD'S MERCY. When the people repented God could no longer endure their misery. He never willingly afflicts (Lamentations 3:33). He only waits for our repentance to show his compassion. It is possible then because
(1) there is no longer the necessity for continued chastisement;
(2) the justice and righteousness of God no longer require him to look upon us in wrath; and
(3) we shall not be injured by the kindness which fails upon us in our humiliation, but rather healed and strengthened for a better life by the influence of God's love. - A.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the children of Israel said unto the LORD, We have sinned: do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee; deliver us only, we pray thee, this day.