True repentance has a distinct and constant reference to the Lord, Jesus Christ. If you repent of sin without looking to Christ, away with your repentance! If you are so lamenting your sin as to forget the Savior, you have need to begin all this work over again. Whenever we repent of sin we must have one eye upon sin and another upon the Cross. Or, better still, let us have both eyes upon Christ, seeing our sin punished in Him and by no means let us look at sin except as we look at Jesus. A man may hate sin just as a murderer hates the gallows – but this does not prove repentance. If I hate sin because of the punishment, I have not repented of sin – I merely regret that God is just. But if I can see sin as an offense against Jesus Christ and loathe myself because I have wounded Him, then I have a true brokenness of heart. If I see the Savior and believe that those thorns upon His head were plaited by my sinful words; If I believe that those wounds in His heart were pierced by my heart sins; If I believe that those wounds in His feet were made by my wandering steps and that the wounds in His hands were made by my sinful deeds – then I repent of sin after a right fashion. Only under the Cross can you repent. Repentance elsewhere is remorse which clings to the sin and only dreads the punishment. Let us then seek, under God, to have a hatred of sin caused by a sight of Christ’s love.
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10
It is a self-evident truth, that as God only knows, so He only can reveal His own love. It is a hidden love, veiled deep within the recesses of His infinite heart; yes, it seems to compose His very essence, for, “God is love,”—not merely lovely and loving, but love itself, essential love. Who, then, can reveal it but Himself? How dim are the brightest views, and how low the loftiest conceptions, of the love of God, as possessed by men of mere natural and speculative knowledge of divine things! They read of God’s goodness, even in nature, with a half-closed eye, and spell it in providence with a stammering tongue. Of His essential love—His redeeming love—of the great and glorious manifestation of His love in Jesus, they know nothing. The eyes of their understanding have not been opened; and “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness,” has not as yet “shined into their hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
But God has declared His own love—Jesus is its glorious revelation. “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” Oh, what an infinite sea of love now broke in upon our guilty and rebellious world, wafting in upon its rolling tide God’s only begotten Son! That must have been great love—love infinite, love unsearchable, love passing all thought—which could constrain the Father to give Jesus to die for us, “while we were yet sinners.” It is the great loss of the believer that faith eyes with so dim a vision this amazing love of God in the gift of Jesus. We have transactions so seldom and so unbelievingly with the cross, that we have need perpetually to recur to the apostle’s cheering words, written as if kindly and condescendingly to meet this infirmity of our faith—”He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things!”
But, behold God’s love! See how He has inscribed this glorious perfection of His nature in letters of blood drawn from the heart of Jesus. His love was so great, that nothing short of the surrender to the death of His beloved Son could give an adequate expression of its immensity. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.” Here was the greatest miracle of love—here was its most stupendous achievement—here its most brilliant victory—and here its most costly and precious offering. Seeing us fallen, obnoxious to the law’s curse, exposed to its dreadful penalty, guilty of innumerable sins, and deserving of as many deaths, yet how did it yearn to save us! How did it heave, and pant, and strive, and pause not, until it revealed a way infinitely safe for God and man; securing glory to every Divine attribute in the highest degree, and happiness to the creature, immense, unspeakable, and eternal.
Octavius Winslow (1808-1878)
“What must I do to be saved? Saved from what? What is it you wish to be saved from? Hell? That proves nothing. Nobody wants to go there. The issue between God and man is SIN. Do you wish to be saved from it?
What is sin? Sin is a species of rebellion against God. It is self-pleasing: it is the utter ignoring of God’s claims: being completely indifferent whether my conduct pleases or displeases Him.
Before God saves a man He convicts him of his sinnership. By this I do not mean that he says with everybody else, “O yes we are all sinners, I know that.” Rather do I mean that the Holy Spirit makes me feel in my heart that I have been a life-long rebel against God, and that my sins are so many, so great, so black, that I fear that I have transgressed beyond the reach of Divine mercy.
Have you ever had that experience? Have you seen yourself to be totally unfit for heaven; For the presence of a Holy God? Do you now perceive that there is no good thing in you, nothing good credited to your account, that all the way through you have loved the things God hates and hated the things God loves?
Has the realization of this broken your heart before God? Has it made you mourn that you have so despised His Sabbaths, neglected His Word, and given Him no real place at all in your thoughts, affections and life? If you have not yet seen and felt this personally, then at present there is no hope for you, for God says, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” — Luke 13:3. And if you die in your present condition you will be lost forever.
But if you have been brought to the place where sin is your greatest plague, where offending God is your greatest grief, and where your deepest desire is now to please and honor Him; then there is hope for you. “The Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost” — Luke 19:10. And He will save you providing you are ready and willing to throw down the weapons of your warfare against Him, bow to His Lordship, and surrender yourself to His control.
His blood can wash the foulest clean. His grace can support and uphold the weakest. His power can deliver the tried and tempted. “Behold now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” — II Corinthians 6:2. Yield yourself to Christ’s claims. Give Him the throne of your heart. Turn over to Him the regulation of your life. Trust in His atoning death. Love Him with all your soul. Obey Him with all your might and He will conduct you to heaven. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” — Acts 16:31.” Arthur Pink
“Christ is like a river. A river is constantly flowing, there are fresh supplies of water coming from the fountain-head continually so that man may live by it, and be supplied with water all his life. So Christ is an ever-flowing fountain; He is continually supplying His people and the fountain is not spent. They who live upon Christ may have fresh supplies from Him to all eternity; they may have an increase of blessedness that is new, and new still, and which never will come to an end.”
– Jonathan Edwards
How many He has passed by that were no worse than me. But He has been willing to make known the riches of His glory on me, a vessel of mercy which He had afore prepared unto glory. How sure my sinful soul is of glory. He calls from heaven, and calls to heaven.“Whom he did predestinate, them he also called, and whom he called, them he also justified, and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” “Bless the Lord, O my soul.”
– Robert Murray M’Cheyne
There are thousands who run well for a season, and seem to bid fair to reach heaven, but by and by give up the race, and turn their backs on Christ altogether. And what has stopped them? Have they found the Bible not true? Have they found the Lord Jesus fail to keep His word? No: not at all. But they have caught the epidemic disease: they are infected with the love of this world. – J.C. Ryle