Conviction of sin is one of the rarest things ever to strike us. It brings us to the threshold of a true understanding of God, showing us precisely whom we wrong when we sin: “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (Psalm 51:4).

“When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin”(John 16:8). When the Holy Spirit rouses our conscience, bringing us into the presence of God and showing us that we are in the wrong about sin, what bothers us isn’t our relationship with other human beings but rather our relationship with our heavenly Father.

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret.” Conviction of sin is so interwoven with the marvel of forgiveness and with holiness that it is only the forgiven person who is the holy person. The forgiven prove they are forgiven by becoming, by the grace of God, the opposite of what they were before. Repentance always brings us to this realization: “I have sinned.” The surest sign that God is at work in us is when we say this and mean it. Anything less is simply regret for having messed up, the reflex reaction of disgust at ourselves.

The entrance into the kingdom is through the pains of repentance. The Holy Spirit produces these pains and sends them crashing against our respectable “goodness.” Then the Spirit begins to form the Son of God in our old lives, transforming them into something new. This new life manifests itself in conscious repentance and unconscious holiness, never the other way around.

Repentance is the bedrock of Christianity. Strictly speaking, we can’t choose to repent; repentance is a gift from God, the result of “godly sorrow.” The Puritans used to pray for “the gift of tears.” If you ever stop knowing the virtue of repentance, you are in darkness. Examine yourself and see if you’ve forgotten how to be sorry.

Wisdom from Oswald

The life of Abraham is an illustration of two things: of unreserved surrender to God, and of God’s complete possession of a child of His for His own highest end.
Not Knowing Whither