Pursue Your Joy Through Repentance

On November 30, 1745, missionary David Brainerd wrote in his diary after he had preached to the Indians of Crossweeksung, New Jersey:

Luke 16:19-26 – The Word made powerful impressions upon many in the assembly,  especially while I discoursed of the blessedness of Lazarus “in Abraham’s bosom”.  This, I could perceive, affected them much more than what I spoke of the rich man’s misery and torments. And thus it has been usually with them . . . They have almost always appeared much more affected with the comfortable than the dreadful truths of God’s Word. And that which has distressed many of them under convictions, is that they found they wanted, and could not obtain, the happiness of the godly.”

And on August 6, 1746 – “It was surprising to see how their hearts seemed to be pierced with the tender and melting invitations of the Gospel, when there was not a word of terror spoken to them.”

On August 9 – “There were many tears among them while I was discoursing publicly, but no considerable cry: Yet some were much affected with a few words spoken to them in a powerful manner, which caused the persons to cry out in anguish of soul, although I spoke not a word of terror, but on the contrary, set before them the fullness and all-sufficiency of Christ’s merits, and his willingness to save all that come to him; and thereupon pressed them to come without delay.”

Can you recall a time in your life that you were sad because you realized that you missed out on something truly enjoyable?

This is what it means to see clearly our sin – it means that we see what joys we are missing out on, and the awareness of that loss of joy and nearness to our heavenly Father is what drives us to repentance. Is this not what the prodigal son realized as he came to his senses (Luke 15:7, 17), that he had forfeited all the enjoyment of his father? Is this not what David realized also (Psalm 51:7-12)?

Genuine evangelical contrition – as opposed to legalistic, fearful sadness simply owing to threats – is a sorrow for not having holiness. But now you have to be careful here, many a criminal will weep when his sentence is read, not because he has come to love righteousness, but because his freedom to do more unrighteousness is being taken away. The only true sorrow for not having holiness comes from a love for holiness, not just from a fear of the consequences of not having it . . . true repentance, must be preceded by a falling in love with the all-satisfying God. To weep at not having holiness, you must long for holiness as a precious experience and reflection of God . . . You must fall in love before estrangement truly hurts . . . Until God is our treasure, we will not grieve over our falling short of being satisfied in Him and begin living in a way that shows that satisfaction . . . evangelical repentance is grounded in an appealing sight of the holiness of God.” John Piper, Brothers, We Are NOT Professionals

One of the best motives for confessing our sin is to enjoy unbroken fellowship with God. What promises does Paul refer to in 2 Cor. 7:1, to lead the Corinthian church to cleanse themselves from defilement? (see 6:16-18). Why was Paul happy that they were grieved? (7:8-9) Because they were grieved to repentance. This is godly grief that produces a repentance that leads to salvation – without regret! (vs. 10).

So what do you think Paul means in context, saying that there is no regret, if you are so grieved over your loss of close fellowship with God that you would repent? In other words, if you are truly saddened over the loss of joy and fellowship with God, and that leads to repentance, why does Paul say there will be no regret having gone through this? Because your heart loves fellowship with God – And You Can Have It Back.

Paul was broken over their loss of fellowship with God. How does this help you in helping others to see their sin? How does all of this affect the way you see God (Eph. 4:30)?

Contemplate that Jesus was the happiest of all humans because of unbroken fellowship with his Father. His saddest moment was on the cross when His Father turned away from him because of our sins. This is the most grievous thing about sin – it separates us from that which brings us the greatest joy – fellowship with God in Christ! Oh what a great gift of love that we have from God – the gift of repentance through Christ our mediator.

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