Have you ever been tempted to sin, reasoning that "well afterwards I will just repent and God, because He is so merciful, will forgive me"? Oh fellow pilgrims, may we consider briefly how we repent:
In Acts 11, Peter is recounting how God sent him to Caesarea to share the Gospel with Cornelius and his family. When he told everyone how God had given the Gentiles the Holy Spirit, the church in Jerusalem was amazed and said, "Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life," (Acts 11:18). Now, what is amazing about this passage is two things: first God gives His Holy Spirit to anyone He chooses. The Holy Spirit regenerates hearts and calls us to saving faith (praise the Lord!). And second, God giving the Holy Spirit is also called granting repentance. Repentance or turning away from our sin, is not something we have the natural ability to do whenever we feel like it. No. Our hearts are spiritually dead to God as Paul said, "you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked," (Ephesians 2:1-2). Like faith, repentance is a gift from God. And, it is a gift throughout the believer's life. We must ask God to continue to grant us the grace of repentance. We should never think, "I will just repent after sinning" because not only is that presuming upon God's mercy, it is presuming on His gracious power to work repentance in our hearts. What if he doesn't?
In one of the scariest passages in the New Testament, the author of Hebrews warns against presumptuous sins and says that it is impossible to "restore them again to repentance" (Hebrews 6:6). Now, many think this means we can lose our salvation. But, the author of Hebrews is issuing a warning: if we walk casually into sin thinking we can repent whenever we feel like it, we may not have ever truly received the grace of repentance in the first place. And, once someone leaves the church, they are likely jaded and harder to reach for Christ.
So, let us pray for one another that in our struggle against sin we would not listen to the lie, "you can just repent afterwards." Instead, let us fight to put sin to death, and when we sin beg God to grant us the grace of repentance.