Christian Tract: Repentance and Rejoicing

Repentance and Rejoicing

But if we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away.
- 1 John 1:9

How can I confess my sins and receive forgiveness?

Psalm 51 provides an example of repentance.

1.  Acknowledge - verse 3

I know about my sins, and I cannot forget my terrible guilt.

Completely admit to what you have done wrong, without excuses.

2.  Cleanse - verse 7

Wash me with hyssop until I am clean and whiter than snow.

Ask God to cleanse you and make you whole.

3.  Restore - verse 12

Make me as happy as you did when you saved me; make me want to obey!

Ask to be restored to God's favor.

4.  Teach - verse 13

I will teach sinners your Law, and they will return to you.

You teach others by sharing your testimony about what God has done in your life.

5.  Praise God - verse 15

Help me to speak, and I will praise you, Lord.

Praise God for what He has done. This has the additional effect of reminding you of what He has done and keeping you humble before Him.

6.  Worship - verses 18, 19

Then you will be pleased with the proper sacrifices, and we will offer bulls on your altar once again.

Worship is the natural consequence of a relationship with God.

I asked for forgiveness and still I feel guilty. What is wrong?

There are several ways in which repentance can fail.

See the story of Saul in 1 Samuel 15, especially verses 20 and 21. Instead of acknowledging his guilt, he denies it and adds an excuse. Contrast David's action in 2 Samuel 11.

David vs. Saul
2 Samuel 11-12 1 Samuel 13-15
Murder and Adultery Disobedience
Prophet sent Prophet sent
Admits guilt Denies guilt and makes excuses
Accepts punishment as just Complains about punishment
Is accepted by God Is rejected by God

Before I confessed my sins, my bones felt limp, and I groaned all day long. . . . So I confessed my sins and told them all to you. . . . Then you forgave me and took away my guilt.
- Psalm 32:3-5

To repent means to change your mind. If you are not determined to change, you have not really repented.

Forgiveness is followed by cleansing. If we don't want the cleansing, we won't receive the forgiveness.

Sometimes being sorrowful makes us feel important, so we refuse the joy of restoration.

Repentance puts us back in line with the heavenly attitude. Refusing joy takes us back off the heavenly attitude.

Jesus said, "In the same way there is more happiness in heaven because of one sinner who turns to God than over ninety-nine good people who don't need to."
- Luke 15:7

Feeling that you cannot possibly be cleansed or be fit for God's kingdom. But God has made us fit for his kingdom.

All of this shows that God judges fairly and that he is making you fit to share in his kingdom for which you are suffering.
- 2 Thessalonians 1:5

Either you don't believe that God can forgive you or will forgive you. (See 1 John 1:9)

If you forgive others for the wrongs they do to you, your Father in heaven will forgive you. But if you don't forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
- Matthew 6:14, 15

Unforgiveness includes holding onto our resentments and grudges. We can fail to forgive because we have been hurt to much. We can also fail to forgive because we refuse to admit that we have been hurt.

You know that you have been taught, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." But I tell you not to try to get even with a person who has done something to you." - Matthew 5:38, 39a

What is the unpardonable sin?

One of the tasks of the Holy Spirit is to convict of sin. If we turn away the Holy Spirit so much that we no longer hear His voice, we will no longer ask for pardon and it will, in fact, be too late.

I'm still having a hard time. Do I have to rejoice?

One of the rewards of an ongoing relationship with God is a trust in what God is doing. When we trust God for the final result, we can have peace and joy even in trouble. (Romans 5:3-5)

We gladly suffer, because we know that suffering helps us to endure. And endurance builds character, which gives us a hope that will never disappoint us.
- Romans 5:3b-5a


Scriptures marked "adapted" were translated and adapted by Henry E. Neufeld for this pamphlet.

All other scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 buy the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 1998, Henry E. Neufeld

Taken from the Participatory Study Series