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Contrition Over Sin
Corinthians 7:9-11

A BROKEN and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise" (Ps. 51:17). A man broken and weeping over his sin is a beautiful and awesome sight. Contrition and remorse for sin is something the church needs today.  There is confusion though between contrition and repentance. Contrition over sin, or "godly sorrow," God says, "worketh repentance to salvation" (v. 10). Repentance is the mental and contrition the emotional aspect toward sin. Repentance comes from two words meaning "to change" and "mind." Repentance, then, is a change of mind. Man thinks he is not bad, in fact thinks he is quite good and becomes offended if told he is a sinner, until God gives him "repentance to the acknowledging of the truth" (II Tim. 2:25).

The outward expression of conviction, contrition, is to be desired from the human standpoint, but one must remember "man looketh on the outward appearance but the LORD looketh on the heart" (I Sam. 16:7). A deacon and I, visiting in a home, talked to a couple about Christ. They expressed absolutely no emotion, but almost as though it were a business deal the wife said she was ready to receive Christ if her husband was. We prayed with them as they received Christ. The next Sunday they confessed Christ publicly and have demonstrated transformed lives over the years. Later she said she was so convicted that night she could hardly hold back the tears.

The amount of remorse or contrition shown may depend on the past life. The couple just mentioned were an unusually good moral couple. A man who had been a drunkard for more than twenty-five years wept bitterly as he came to Christ one Mother's Day. All three experienced repentance which resulted in changed lives. Contrition is desirable, but repentance is essential.

To be affected not only mentally but emotionally regarding Christ and salvation is a healthy sign. God speaks of those "having their conscience seared with a hot iron" (I Tim. 4:2) and of those "being past feeling" (Eph. 4: 19). Emotions are important. We want people to believe with the heart (Rom. 10:9) and so should not decry emotions but pray for contrite hearts.


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