READING: 1 Samuel 25-27
How many times do we confess our sin but without genuine brokenness? If I’m honest, I know there have been times in my life (particularly as a younger believer) when I admitted my wrong, but fully expected I’d return to my sin. That’s hardly biblical repentance. Confession without a commitment to change is no reflection of the transforming power of the gospel.
King Saul had a tendency to admit his wrong, but with apparently little intention to change. He admitted that he had treated David badly in previous chapters (1 Sam 24:17), but he continued to send his forces to find David. His confession in today’s reading after he learns that David had again spared his life is even more pointed: “I have sinned . . . Surely I have acted like a fool and have been terribly wrong” (1 Sam 26:21). What might appear to have been sincere, though, still did not settle David’s concerns about Saul’s intentions. In fact, David chose to live among the Philistines because he assumed that, “One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul” (1 Sam 27:1). He seemingly felt he could still not trust the king.
Too often, our confession, too, is only words without change. How, then, do we know when our repentance is genuine? Here are some ways that perhaps help us evaluate:
- Genuine repentance recognizes that my wrong is against the holy Creator God. If I don’t recognize my wrong as against God, it’s too easy to minimize its effects — and see less need to repent.
- The emotion of brokenness comes from having chosen to rebel against God, not from simply being “caught” in my sin.
- I take whatever steps are necessary (even if they are drastic) to avoid falling into the sin again, including seeking the help of others.
- My failures into sins that used to haunt me are fewer and fewer, with increasing time between failings.
- My grief over any continued failures cuts even more deeply.
- Others recognize my growing commitment to God.
ACTION STEPS: Consider these steps:
- Look at any recurrent sins in your life, and determine whether your repentance is genuine.
- Take necessary steps to break any continual patterns of sin in your life.
- Ask God to break you over your sin so your confession is more than just words.
PRAYER: “Father, make my repentance genuine today.”
TOMORROW’S READING: 1 Samuel 28-31