Fear and Loathing

“Rend your heart, and not your garments.”
– Joel 2:13

Doug Wilson writes:

True repentance is frequently expressed in a state of consternation. Repentance is not just a state of turning away from sin. It is what happens when someone is given a glimpse of what that sin is actually like. Repentance is not technically turning away from something that was technically wrong. Repentance is actually turning away, with revulsion, from something that is now seen in its true colors. This is why repentance is expressed in consternation.

This is what it means in Scripture to rend your hearts, and not just your garments. This is what heartfelt repentance looks like. If the inside of the cup is cleansed, then the outside will be also. But if we reserve to ourselves the right to our central hypocrisies, then our public worship will simply be the very careful activity of daubing around the outside of the cup.

But repentance does not just see the sin. Repentance sees, at that same moment, that God sees the sin also, and that He sees it in the same way—without Himself being guilty of any of it. His hatred of it is holy, while ours is filled with revulsion and self-loathing. Now self-loathing may seem like an odd thing for us to address in this great age of preening, but self-loathing is part of this. It should not be a permanent state for those who have come to forgiveness, and who have been declared justified by a sovereign God. But it is a very necessary part of the process for those who are being called out of their twistedness—seeing just how twisted they have been. This too is grace.

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