08 June 2009

The Three R's of Sin

Pride resolves to sin and refuses to repent.

Despair resigns itself to sin and doesn't repent.

Repentance resists the temptation to sin; and, as often as one falls into sin, repentance returns to God by faith in His mercy and forgiveness.


TruthQuestioner said...

In this case, can one be both contrite and despairing?

What is dividing line between contrition and repentance? Also, how do the contrite become repentant?

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Oh, yes, TQ. Contrition that does not come to completion in repentance ends in despair. Judas is the prime example of such a case. He was contrite, or sorry, for what he had done and caused. But he was not turned from his sin to faith in Christ. I have been struck for years by the fact that, when he confessed his sins to his pastors (the Jewish priests), they turned him back on himself instead of speaking the Gospel to him. It is a sobering lesson.

Although the word "repentance" is sometimes used as more or less a synonym for contrition, is is more properly used for both contrition and faith. This is why I am constantly defining repentance as "being turned away from sin back to God." It is, in other words, both the dying and the rising with Christ that is brought about by the Law and the Gospel.

The contrite become repentant, then, when they are not only shown their sin but also given the Gospel of forgiveness. For the forgiveness of sins is not contingent upon repentance; but, rather, repentance depends upon the forgiveness of sins in Christ.

Hence, it is necessary, Jesus says, that repentance be preached in His Name for the forgiveness of sins. Just as St. John the Baptist came preaching a Baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Not that repentance earns the forgiveness, but that the penitent is turned to receive the forgiveness freely bestowed by God in His Son, Christ Jesus, our Savior.

Paul said...

Those who come to God must believe that He is and is a rewarder of those who dliigently seek Him.

Rev. James Leistico said...

thanks much for posting this. It helped me to think through something going on here.

TruthQuestioner said...

Thanks, Pastor.

I've often been a bit flabbergasted by the "proud contrite" - that pride which abhores itself but which shrinks from receiving forgiveness, or continually doubts. How is one to deal with such pride?

(Ironically, the word verification is "wallo" :P )