Ryle on Repentance

“We learn, for another thing, the nature of true repentance. When our Lord had said to the sinful woman, ‘Neither do I condemn thee,’ He dismissed her with the solemn words, ‘go and sin no more.’  He did not merely say, ‘go home and repent.’  He pointed out the chief thing which her case required, – the necessity of immediate breaking off from her sin.

“Let us never forget this lesson.  It is the very essence of genuine repentance, as the Church catechism well teaches, to ‘forsake sin.’  That repentance which consists in nothing more than feeling, talking, professing, wishing, meaning, hoping, and resolving, is worthless in God’s sight.  Action is the very life of ‘repentance unto salvation not to be repented of.’  Till a man ceases to do evil and turns from his sins, he does not really repent. – Would we know whether we are truly converted to God, and know anything of godly sorrow for sin, and repentance such as causes ‘joy in heaven’?  Let us search and see whether we forsake sin. Let us not rest till we can say as in God’s sight, ‘I hate all sin, and desire to sin no more.’”

– J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, (2007: Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 4 Volumes), Vol. 3, p. 486

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