Margin notes: Repentance that makes a difference

Psalm 51:10–12 (ESV) — 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

People often conceive of repentance merely in terms of someone taking responsibility for their sin or saying they are sorry for it, they regret it. And this is right and proper, but it is just the leading edge.

Here, David models the part of genuine repentance that is most often ignored. He does not simply make an empty pledge not to do it again, but he recognizes the pollution of his own heart – that his sin is an inward problem not located simply in wrong actions. Sin is a heart problem. An issue of loving what is not good or right to love. Something that requires far more than human resolutions – it takes the work of God to purify, to cleanse, to bring the very heart to a new and restored place. To have new and better desires themselves. An inward renovation which can only be wrought by the Spirit of God within.

And then he proceeds to a most vital idea: Give me the resolution of heart and mind that I do not find within myself. Give me YOUR strength. Your resolve. Your steadfastness. Your endurance. Fill me with Your Spirit. I am helpless left to myself.

And it is in this light that he prays he will not be rejected. The rejection he fears at this juncture is not a total repudiation by God – but that his prayer will not be heard. In other words, it is a prayer of desperation. He is desperate for God’s working in his heart. He knows apart from that, all is lost.

Never settle for merely asking for forgiveness for your sins. Pray desperately for the enduement of God’s Spirit to create in you as native a love of holiness as He Himself has.

As the hymn writer expressed it:

Breathe on me Breath of God,

Fill me with life anew,

That I may love, what Thou dost love,

And do what Thou wouldst do

Heavenly Father – DO hear that prayer today for me, and for my brothers and sisters in Christ.

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