Repentance Without Remorse?

I’ve spent the last week or so asking God to convict me about something so I could repent and then begin to repair what I’ve broken through my sinning.

While I was freely admitting in my mind that my action had been sin, I didn’t feel bad about it.  I wasn’t sorry.  I felt justified.

Satan used this lack of contrition to paralyze me.  He fed me heaping spoonfuls of this lie: if you don’t feel sorry, you aren’t sorry, and you can’t apologize or rectify the situation unless you feel sorry.

I agreed with Satan, and I felt stuck.  After all, I couldn’t will myself to feel bad for what I’d done.  Even if I wanted to feel totally broken up about it, I couldn’t make myself feel that way.

And then it occurred to me…  what if I don’t have to feel bad in order to repent?

My initial reaction was, “Well, if I don’t feel sorry, then my repentance would be insincere, worthless…”

But as I considered this idea a little longer, I began to wonder if that was really true. I wondered how often feelings of contrition were tied to repentance in the Bible…

The Greek word behind repent means to change one’s mind for the better, and, except in one case, was always used in the New Testament in regards to sin (Vine’s).  Feelings of contrition are inherent within the definition, but must they be in order for someone to turn from what they know is sin and pursue righteousness?

In its most basic form, repent means to choose to do something better.  Whether you feel like it or not.  Whether you feel bad about what you did to begin with or not.

If this is true, we are no longer paralyzed when we don’t feel remorse over sin.  We can still repent.  We can choose to act in a better manner next time.  We can move forward, toward righteousness, thwarting Satan’s plan to immobilize us in our pursuit of Christ.

Don’t get me wrong, feelings of contrition would definitely help motivate us to resist temptations, and I think praying for the Holy Spirit to convict us emotionally over our sin is a worthy pursuit (John 16:7-8).  (In fact, if we aren’t desiring to feel broken over sin, we have even bigger problems (Ephesians 4:17-32).)

But when the feelings of remorse just aren’t coming, we don’t have to sit and wait for them.  We can pray for them to come, and we can choose to turn from our sinful choices and pursue better choices.

“I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.” Acts 26:20

4 thoughts on “Repentance Without Remorse?

  1. Usually with sin there is a relationship to God that has been hurt and a human relationship that has been hurt. Both need our attention. David said, “Against You and You only have I sinned” (Psalm 51:4), to emphasize that it is ultimately against God that we sin. But there is also the human we have sinned against. Remorse is important to both. It shows that we empathize with their pain and signifies that we really do get what we did wrong at an emotional level. And it is at the emotional level that real change takes place.

    But yes, when we don’t have that emotional repentance yet, we must still engage in the intellectual repentance. We take whatever steps we can take when we can take them as God enables us. Thanks for this post.

  2. Yeah. FIne. It better be. I’ve heard that a lot of people are sorry for their sins. People keep telling me when you get saved you have to be sorry. This sorrow comes before repentance. I guess I am sad because I like the sin and god won’t help me. I derserve to go to hell we all do but Christ died so we wouldnt have to. Yes. Pray for those feelings of remorse and confession, pray for those bad thoughts and desires to leave even if you don’t truly want it. If you keep confessing and praying and reading the bible he will help. God is great. I often call god a f*** *** a** because I like to. I wish I could call him something else. Plus, maybe this isn’t bad. Afterall words are just words. The f word just means adultetry. ITs OK. Well it is rude but maybe will just ask god to help me not curse. The meaning is bad but not the word itself. I wish I was pure. Advice. Not sorry either. I probably won’t get that remorse

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