“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret…- 2 Corinthians 7:10a
How do we know that we have truly repented from our sins, and turned by faith to God in Christ?
William Perkins (1558-1602), one of the Pioneers of Reformed Spirituality wrote with clarity on this topic. He defined repentance as “a work of grace, arising from godly sorrow; whereby a person turns from all her sins unto God, and brings forth fruits worthy of an amendment of life by faith in Christ.”
Genuine Repentance Consists of Seven Things:1From William Perkins, “Two Treatises: Of the Nature and Practice of Repentance, and Of the Combat of the Flesh and the Spirit,” quoted in The Works of William Perkins (Grand Rapids, MI: … Continue reading
- The knowledge of the law of God, the nature of sin, the guilt of sin, and the judgment of God. One realizes what God requires, that one’s sins has offended God and transgressed his commandments; there is a realization of guilt and condemnation, and that punishment from a Holy God is deserved.
- The application of this knowledge to the heart by the “Spirit of bondage” (Rom. 8:15ff). The Spirit first acts as the “Spirit of bondage” to show how one is enslaved to sin (John 16:8-11; John 8:32; Eph. 2:1-3).
- The consequent fear and sorrow. There is real godly grief and sorrow accompanied by fear of punishment (1 Jo. 4:18).
- The knowledge of the glorious Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ for sinners! God saves repentant sinners by faith alone, receiving His perfect righteousness alone, understanding that Jesus has been condemned in the sinner’s place, and has removed transgressions as far as the East is from the West (Psa. 103; Rom. 5:1-11; 8:1-4).
- The application of this knowledge to the heart by the “Spirit of Adoption” (Rom. 8:15ff). One realizes that she is no longer a slave to sin, and under the just condemnation of God, but an adopted son who has been redeemed to please her Heavenly Father by faith and obedience (Rom. 6:17).
- The consequent joy and sorrow. The response is true and deep and abiding joy with sorrow to ever have offended such a Glorious, Gracious, and Wonderful God!
- The “turning of the mind,” whereby a person determines and resolves with himself to sin no more as he has done, but to live in newness of life. One resolves in reliance upon God’s grace, to avoid sin, and seeks God for new grace and strength each day to put it to death and live a godly life (Rom. 6:1-14; 7:16-25; 8:5-14; Col. 3).
|↑1||From William Perkins, “Two Treatises: Of the Nature and Practice of Repentance, and Of the Combat of the Flesh and the Spirit,” quoted in The Works of William Perkins (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2014), I: xxv. I have edited and expanded on his teaching to update and apply to KCPC- Pastor Biggs|