Really sorry for the sin itself?

By Dave Henning / March 10, 2023

“If you say, ‘I must stop doing this thing, because it will get me into trouble,’ then you are not really sorry for the sin itself but for the consequences or results of the sin.  You are not sorry because it grieved God but because it grieved you or others.  This means that as soon as your sinful habit stops causing trouble for you, you will stop causing trouble for it.”- Timothy Keller

“If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O LORD, who could stand?  But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.”- Psalm 130:3-4 (ESV)

As Timothy Keller moves on in Chapter 4 of Forgive, he notes that the grievousness of sin to God carries profound implications for those who desire to change their lives and habits.  Therefore, when you recognize and feel poignantly what your sin does to God, you possess a deeper, more permanent motivation to turn away from that sin.

In addition, the first time the Bible explicitly mentions forgiveness occurs in Genesis 50:17.  There Joseph’s brothers ask forgiveness for selling him into slavery.  Consequently, the Hebrew word used in the passage is nasahNasah carries the sense of sending sin away.  So that the forgiver no longer counts that sin against the perpetrator.

Also, Pastor Keller notes, the theme of forgiveness dominates Solomon’s prayers as well as his understanding of the temple.  Thus, the heart of the Old Testament centers on forgiveness.  Because without it, it’s impossible to have a relationship with God.

In conclusion, Pastor Keller takes a look at forgiveness in the Psalms.  Above all, the author describes the Psalms as perhaps the premier Old Testament expression of (a) the character of God and (b) the means for its reception.

In the next blog, Pastor Keller begins an in-depth study of Psalm 130.  As a result, he discusses six things the psalm teaches us about the Old Testament view of forgiveness.

Today’s question: When have you found yourself not really sorry for the sin itself, but for the consequences?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Grace and justice join – mercy”

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Dave Henning

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