It’s football season, so I think it’s very appropriate to talk about passion and excitement. Real fans wildly cheer their team’s victories, and occasionally, deeply mourn their losses. Do you identify with that, or are their other things that light you up? What do you get really fired up over, what excites you, what causes emotion to burn deep into your being?
Now another question, what are your most intense emotions. Really think about it – when you have an intense emotional reaction to something, what are you typically feeling. Chances are, the most common and intense emotions we experience are sadness, anger, or joy.
What about regret and remorse? More than likely, it’s been a while since you’ve truly allowed yourself to experience these emotions. Our culture idolizes personal happiness, glorifies anger and rage, and romanticizes sadness, so it’s “acceptable” to experience these emotions. Shame, guilt, regret, and remorse are the red-headed stepchildren in our culture’s collective bank of emotions. We live in a society of “no regrets.” We say it is meaningless to live in the past, and “What’s done is done.”
Yet when we embrace this mindset, we abandon the gravity of sin and forget the holiness of God. Furthermore, this nullifies the grace of God and downplays the sacrifice of Christ. When we reject remorse, we silence our consciences and the Holy Spirit within us.
When was the last time you wept over your brokenness? When was the last time you looked back on your day and realized you had abandoned God, that you had ignored His calling and thumbed your nose at His command? When was the last time you felt sadness wash over you because you disappointed God? The Bible records one particularly poignant story of two men who blatantly abandonded, betrayed, and rejected God. Their response was not to “forgive themselves” and move on immediately. Both men had intensely sorrowful reactions when they realized what they had done. Why do we not call all of our sins “betraying God’s grace?” Was it not our sins that put Christ on the cross?
Some may say this is a negative view of God – that He is full of love, grace, and is “the God of second chances.” These would say that we need to bask in the grace of God and freely accept it. Those statements are true – God is like that. Yet sin is sin, and after all He has done for us, is it not the height of arrogance to vaccilate freely between accepting the love of God while ignoring the will of God?
Some may say this is a dangerous approach to considering sin – that we as a society are prone to depression, and overemphasizing our faults and flaws would be extremely detrimental. This is also true. Yet God has left us with an appropriate way to deal with our own sin. Returning to the story I referenced earlier, who were these two men who abandoned God? Judas and Peter. Both men realized they had betrayed Jesus in their own ways. Judas felt sorrow and disgust at himself, and tried to erase his actions and distance himself from them – eventually his sorrow led him to commit suicide. Peter also betrayed Christ, and “wept bitterly” when he realized what he had done. Yet he stuck around long enough to run back to Christ with passion and humility when given the opportunity.
2 Corinthians 7:8-13 talks about a “godly sorrow” that yields repentance. God is not in the business of inducing depression. Longstanding shame and guilt only neutralizes us and makes us impotent for the Kingdom of God. Rather, God sends the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin, to induce remorse, so that we would acknowledge our wickedness (incidentally, calling all our wrongdoing “wickedness” greatly increases its perceived severity) and turn from our ways (i.e., “repent”) towards a closer relationship with God.
David asked God to create a “new heart” in him after he abandoned the ways of God in favor of murder, sexual immorality, and passion (Psalm 51). In fact, the psalms are filled with the remorse of a man who would turn to God and run away from Him. Would that God would soften our hearts again, and give us a sensitivity towards our own sin, and passion for personal holiness.
(This essay was written by Chris Coultas, lead singer of the Church At The GYM Band)