“If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow and made it ready.” —Psalm 7:12.
How many of us are like men who see their faces in a mirror, and then walk away and forget what we look like! Yes! My friends, it is not your promise of repentance that can save you; it is not your vow, it is not your solemn declaration, it is not the tear that is dried more easily than the dew-drop by the sun, it is not the momentary emotion of the heart which constitutes a real turning to God. There must be a true and actual abandonment of sin, and a turning to righteousness in real act and deed in every-day life. Would you say you are sorry, and repent, and yet go on from day to day, just as you always have before? Will you now bow your heads, and say, “Lord, I repent,” and in a little while commit the same acts of sin again? If you do, your repentance is worse than nothing, and will make your punishment yet more sure; for he that makes a promise to his Maker, and does not keep his promise, has committed another sin, in that he has attempted to deceive the Almighty, and lie to the God that made him. Repentance to be true, to be evangelical, must be a repentance which really affects our outward behavior.
Repentance to be true must be total. How many will say, “Lord, I will give up this sin and this other one; but there are certain favorite lusts which I must hang on to.” O friends, in God’s name let me tell you, it is not the giving up of one sin, nor fifty sins, which is true repentance; it is the serious giving up of every sin. If you conceal one of these accursed vipers in your heart, then your repentance is nothing but a fake. If you indulge in only one lust, and give up every other, then that one lust, like one leak in a ship, will sink your soul. It is not sufficient just to give up your outward sins; it is not enough just to give up the most wicked sin of your daily life; it is all or nothing which God demands. “Repent.” And when he commands you to repent, he means repent of all your sins, otherwise he never can accept your repentance as being real and genuine. The truly repentant person hates all of their sins, not just certain ones. He says, “Cover yourself with the finest gold, O sin, I will still hate you! Yes, cover yourself with pleasure, make yourself flashy, like the snake with its turquoise scales—I still hate you, for I know your venom, and I run from you, even when you come to me in the most illusive clothing.” All sin must be given up, or else you will never have Christ: all evil must be renounced, or else the gates of heaven must be locked to keep you out forever. Let us remember, then, that for repentance to be sincere it must be total repentance.