Rejoicing and Repentance

I am finishing up Tim Keller’s book Counterfeit Gods and it has been an immensely helpful read. His approach to each chapter is to expose the different idols that dominate our American culture and to show how the gospel of Jesus not only exposes such idolatry but also replaces the idol itself.

In the epilogue, Keller gets specific about finding and replacing our idols and I wanted to share a quote that I felt was brilliant and jumped off the page. Enjoy!

Rejoicing and Repentance must go together. Repentance without rejoicing will lead to despair. Rejoicing without repentance is shallow and will only provide passing inspiration instead of deep change. Indeed, it is when we rejoice over Jesus’ sacrificial love for us most fully that, paradoxically, we are most truly convicted of our sin.

When we repent out of fear of consequences, we are not really sorry for the sin, but for ourselves. Fear-based repentance (I’d better change or God will get me) is really self-pity. In fear-based repentance, we don’t learn to hate the sin for itself, and it doesn’t lose it’s attractive power. We learn only to refrain from it for our own sake.

But when we rejoice over God’s sacrificial, suffering love for us – seeing what it cost him to save us from sin – we learn to hate the sin for what it is…Fear-based repentance makes us hate ourselves. Joy-based repentance makes us hate the sin.


About Justin Wheeler

Justin Wheeler is the preaching pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Wylie, TX. He is married to Leigh and has three children.
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