Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Penance vs. Repentance

I am writing a paper on this topic for my Biblical Counseling Logos class. The following text is not from my paper, but in my research found this written by a Master's Seminary student. I thought it was a clear idea that helped my own understanding.

Remorse and Repentance

There are three elements all integral to biblical repentance. Intellectually, the sinner comes to a knowledge and an acknowledgment of his sins. After making a conscious choice
, he resolves to abandon sin and submit to Christ as Lord. Then emotionally, he feels the sorrow of having offended God.

Is remorse necessary? The Bible contains examples where repentance comes with expressions of distress - the tax collector (Luke 18:10-14) and the city of Nineveh (Jon. 3:6-10).

However, there are also instances where true repentance is unaccompanied by any emotional displays - Jacob after wrestling with God (Gen 32:22-32) and the woman of Samaria (John 4:7-30). Moreover, in not a few instances deep anguish is devoid of repentance - Judas after betraying Jesus (Matt. 27:3-5) and Esau after selling his birthright (Heb. 12:16-17).

John F. MacArthur in The Gospel According to Jesus notes, "Repentance is not merely shame or sorrow for sin, although genuine repentance always involves an element of remorse." That remorse may be quickly overtaken by the joy of forgiveness. In some cases, the repentant may not outwardly display inner feelings.

There is a crucial difference between displays of remorse and remorse itself. Paul says that godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death (2 Cor. 7:10). It is clear that not all grief leads to repentance. And turning from sin always comes with sorrow, but such sorrow may not always be displayed.

Remorse and Penance

In Roman Catholicism, man's first justification occurs at baptism, such justification being granted by God for Christ's sake regardless of the sinner's merit (though his volition co-operates in some way). But justification (not sanctification) is sustained through the sinner's own merit.

Under Roman Catholicism, initial justification can be (and is) annulled by sin, and may be restored only through the Sacrament of Penance as outlined below:
Contrition - grief and hatred of past sins with the intention of stopping the sin;
Confession - self-accusation (with full details, without reserve) to a priest;
Satisfaction - painful work prescribed by the priest, performed by the penitent, as proper payment for sins (after death, satisfaction is achieved through purgatory

Charles Spurgeon says this..."Evangelical repentance is repentance of sin as sin: not of this sin nor of that, but of the whole mass. We repent of the sin of our nature as well as the sin of our practice. We bemoan sin within us and without us. We repent of sin itself as being an insult to God. Anything short of this is a mere surface repentance, and not a repentance which reaches to the bottom of the mischief. Repentance of the evil act, and not of the evil heart, is like men pumping water out of a leaky vessel, but forgetting to stop the leak. Some would dam up the stream, but leave the fountain still flowing; they would remove the eruption from the skin, but leave the disease in the flesh."

1 comment:

joey said...

that looks like a little cartoon picture of john piper.

great post. so true.

remorse/penance is just pride in sheeps clothing.