King David is an excellent example (2 Samuel 12:1-23). These aspects of sincere repentance apply even if our sins are not as serious as David's sin.
David suffered punishments and consequences for his sins, but his genuine repentance, beautifully expressed in Psalm 51, restored his relationship with God.
If we don't genuinely repent, we lose our discernment and distance ourselves from God.
Those who genuinely repent:
1. Know the gravity of their sin and feel genuine sorrow (James 4:7-10).
2. Know they deserve punishment (Hebrews 12:6).
3. Know they’ve sinned against a holy God (Psalm 51:4).
4. Are grateful they're forgiven and delivered from eternal punishment (Psalm 103:10; Romans 6:23).
5. Understand forgiveness does not free them from earthly consequences and punishment (Psalm 51:12-13(1); 1 Corinthians 11:32; Hebrews 12:11; 1 Peter 4:17).(1)
6. Make restitution and confession when possible and necessary (Matthew 3:8; Luke 19:8; Acts 19:18-19; Acts 26:20; James 5:16). This means seeking forgiveness not only from God but from others they've offended, paying back anything they've stolen, repairing anything they've damaged, etc.
Those who genuinely repent don’t minimize what they’ve done by calling it a “mistake” or making excuses. They understand the high price Christ paid for their forgiveness.
See also: David’s Key to a Healthy Faith
(1) For more explanation, see Consequences of Forgiven Sin by John Piper
After David's repentance, God referred to David's faith several times in Scripture:
1 Kings 11:4: For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.
Some people question why King David, an adulterer and murderer continued to receive such high acclaim from God after his sins.
It was due to the fact that King David completely accepted God's verdict. He sought God fervently despite the fact that God said he would suffer serious consequences and punishments for what he'd done. More than anything else, David wanted to restore his relationship with God.
How many, knowing their punishments, have this attitude toward God? That is what set David apart.
God knows He doesn't have perfect children, but those who value their relationship with Him will always be closest to Him.
Read through David's Psalm of confession and sorrow, written after knowing that God would take his infant son (2 Samuel 12:13-14).(1)
Note David's attitude toward his sins. When we sin, we should remind ourselves of his attitude.
Psalm 51- For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. 6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. 14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. 15 Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. 18 May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar.
(1) Some might consider this a terrible thing for God to punish the infant son for David's sins, but the son would not actually be punished. The Bible does not directly state it, but it implies that children before the age of accountability go to be with the Lord. That means this son of David's would be spared the sorrow and unhappiness of David's household, so he would not suffer. But David would suffer for the loss, knowing it was caused by his sin. It's important to note that this was a punishment, not a consequence. Children born out of wedlock do not normally die in infancy.
copyright 2017, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com