What does Jesus Christ mean when He calls sinners to repent?
Repentance is a spiritual medicine made up of six special ingredients:
1. Sight of sin
2. Sorrow for sin
3. Confession of sin
4. Shame for sin
5. Hatred for sin
6. Turning from sin
If any one is left out it loses its virtue.
Ingredient I: Sight of Sin
The first part of Christ's physic is eye-salve (Acts 26.18).. A man must first recognize and consider what his sin is, and know the plague of his heart before he can be duly humbled for it...So the first thing in a penitent is illumination.. The eye is made both for seeing and weeping. Sin must first be seen before it can be wept for…
Hence I infer that where there is no sight of sin, there can be no repentance...Under a veil a deformed face is hid. Persons are veiled over with ignorance and self-love; therefore they see not what deformed souls they have. The devil does with them as the falconer with the hawk. He blinds them and carries them hooded to hell ...Men have insight enough into worldly matters, but the eye of their mind is smitten. They do not see any evil in sin …
Ingredient 2: Sorrow for Sin
I will be sorry for my sin (Psalm 38.18)
... sorrow [is] the embittering of the soul. The Hebrew word `to be sorrowful' signifies `to have the soul, as it were, crucified'. This must be in true repentance... A woman may as well expect to have a child without pangs as one can have repentance without sorrow... he that can repent without sorrowing, suspect his repentance.
This sorrow is:
(1) To make Christ precious.
(2) To drive out sin.
(3) To make way for solid comfort.
Ingredient 3: Confession of Sin
Confession is self-accusing..hear what the apostle Paul says: `if we would judge ourselves we should not be judged' (1 Cor. 11.31).
Ingredient 4: Shame for Sin
`that they may be ashamed of their iniquities' (Ezek. 43.10)
...how far are they from being penitents who have no shame? Many have sinned away shame: `the unjust knoweth no shame' (Zeph. 3.5). It is a great shame not to be ashamed.
Ingredient 5: Hatred of Sin
...a two-fold hatred: hatred of abominations, and hatred of enmity.
Firstly, there is a hatred or loathing of abominations: `Ye shall loathe yourselves for your iniquities' (Ezek. 36.3 I). A true penitent is a sin-loather...Let all my self-love be turned into self-loathing (Zech. 3.4-5). We are never more precious in God's eyes than when we are lepers in our own.
Secondly, there is a hatred of enmity... Sound repentance begins in the love of God and ends in the hatred of sin.
Ingredient 6: Turning from Sin
True repentance, like aqua fortis [nitric acid], eats asunder the iron chain of sin. Therefore weeping and turning are put together (Joel 2.12). .. `Repent, and turn your-selves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations' (Ezek. 14.6). This turning from sin is called a forsaking of sin (Isa. 55.7)
If we turn to God, He will turn to us. He will turn His anger from us, and His face to us... If God turns to us, all things shall turn to our good, both mercies and afflictions; we shall taste honey at the end of the rod.
~ Thomas Watson