True Repentance and Shame for Sin

A few days ago, while I was discussing the subject of indwelling sin with my pastor and another brother, the name Thomas Watson came up. I knew he was a Puritan writer, but I was yet to read any of his works. During the discussion I was directed to read one of his books, The Doctrine of Repentance. My pastor gave me a copy of the book, which I am currently reading.

In the book, which is largely directed to Christians, Watson gives six ingredients of true repentance, one of which is shame for sin. In the book he argues that the sins of Christians are worse than the sins of devils, and that that should make every Christian ashamed. Below is a short excerpt from the book:

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The lapsed angels never sinned against Christ’s blood. Christ died not for them. The medicine of his merit was never intended to heal them. But we have affronted and disparaged his blood by unbelief.

The devils never sinned against God’s patience. As soon as they apostatized, they were damned. God never waited for the angels, but we have spent upon the stock of God’s patience. He has pitied our weakness, borne with out forwardness. His Spirit has been repulsed, yet has still importuned us and will take no denial. Our conduct has been so provoking as to have tired not only the patience of a Moses but of all the angels. We have put God to it, and made him weary of repenting (Jer. 15:6)

The devils never sinned against example. They were the first that sinned and were made the first example. We have seen the angels, those morning stars, fall from their glorious orb; we have seen the old world drowned, Sodom burned, yet have ventured upon sin. How desperate is that thief who robs in the very place where his fellow hangs in chains. And surely, if we have outsinned the devils, it may well put us to the blush.

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No true repentance from sin can exist without shame. And anyone who can think or speak of his sins without shame doesn’t know how unpleasant those sins are to God. In Thomas Watson’s words, “Repentance causes a holy bashfulness.” If repentance is void of shame, then it probably isn’t true.

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