If to acknowledge sinful behavior is a struggle, to be sorry about it is more of a struggle. Routinely, people ask for a chance to explain their behavior. Then they proceed to describe external circumstances that explain their behavior and make statements such as:
- “Lord, I’m mad and angry and bullheaded, but who wouldn’t be with a spouse like that!”
- “The boss yelled at me, and he didn’t have his facts straight.”
- “The kids kept fighting.”
- “You drove me to it.”
- “I haven’t been getting enough sleep.”
- “I grew up in a bad neighborhood.”
- “I haven’t been feeling well lately.”
- “Let me tell you about the problems my family had . . . “
- “My parents didn’t love or understand me.”
- “Lord, this is the way I am, but you know how hard I’ve tried to serve you.”
Do these statements sound familiar? You see, I can announce that that’s the way I am, but then I want to blame someone else or some circumstances in my life or my background.
Jesus once declared to a group of religious leaders:
“You . . . justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts.”
Luke 16:15, NKJV
Human behavior has not changed over recorded history, and the next step in repenting is just as difficult today as it was in Jesus’ time.
Step 2: I need to say to God: “l am sorry. I have sinned.”
Obviously, you can confess to having done something sinful and not be the least bit sorry to God. You may even be purposing in your heart to repeat the same behavior. Or you may be sorry you were caught, because now you will suffer the consequences of your actions.
Other times we can sin and apologize to an individual, but leave God completely out of the situation.
The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians rebuking them for mixing with idolaters. He describes their response to his first letter:
Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication!
2 Corinthians 7:9-11, NKJV
It’s a struggle to come to the place where I can say, “I am wrong. I have sinned. No excuses, no alibis. This is my sin and I mean it. I am sorry, God.”