HOs 14.1

Secondly this week we see that repentance is A Turning Away from Specific Sin. Repentance is not just a general mind change. It is change in a specific area, regarding a specific sin. And when Hosea says, “Take words with you, and return to the Lord,” here are the words. He tells us what to say. “Say to Him, ‘Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.’ 3 Assyria shall not save us, we will not ride on horses, nor will we say anymore to the work of our hands, ‘You are our gods.’ For in You the fatherless finds mercy.” These things are specific things: take away iniquity (idolatry and unfaithfulness), Assyria will not save us, that is, we will not go back to them looking for a way of escape. We will not ride on horses, that is fight these things in the manner of human warfare. And we will not say anymore to our idols that they are our gods. These are specific sins. So repentance is specific.

General repentance is easy, isn’t it? It is usually feeling sorry that we have run into consequences from sin and not actual repentance. If someone says that they have repented by can’t tell you what sins they have repented of, then I would suspect that they have not actually repented. Repentance is a repudiation of specific sins.

We’ve all been taught from a young age that when we offend or wrong someone that we should say “I’m sorry.” But when we learn from Scripture is that this is not enough. We must not think that being sorry fixes anything. Being sorry too often is just the bad feelings that come with being caught and being forced to apologize. Don’t be sorry. Repent and ask to be forgiven!

Another amazing text of Scripture that deals with repentance is found in Hebrews 12:17. In remembering the events that lead to Esau selling his birthright to Jacob, Esau was sorry that he had done that. The Scripture tells us, “For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.” Esau wanted repentance but couldn’t find it. Why? Because he was seeking to undo his sin in giving up what was his right by birth as the firstborn not because he saw it as sin, but because he regretted losing what had been his. At heart, it was a selfish sorrow and not a godly repentance.

Thirdly from these verses we see that repentance involves Appealing to God’s Mercy in order that we might Overcome Sin. There in verse 2 we read it, “Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.” Appealing to the grace of God. Asking Him for mercy. Psalm 25:7 says, “Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; according to Your mercy remember me, for Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.” Appeal to the mercy of God, after all, it never runs out, it is new every morning, and it is secured for us by the finished work of Christ on our behalf. That must mean we need a lot of mercy, right?!

Fourth in these verses we see that repentance includes Confessing Our Sin. We come with words, specific words about specific sins. And confession is simply agreeing with God that sin is sin. This reminds me of the Prodigal Son and the speech he rehearsed for when he was returning to his father’s house. But when he got there he couldn’t even get the words out before his father was forgiving him and receiving him back. It really is 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  And Proverbs 28:13 tells us, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” We confess, we uncover our sin before God – it’s not like He doesn’t know, so we do not do thin is order to inform Him. We do this demonstrating a change of mind and a willingness to forsake what we confess.

A quick note – to Whom do we confess? To God and to the one(s) we have sinned against. Here in our text we see that we confess to God, we return to the Lord.

If you sin against me, I can forgive you, but I cannot remove the consequences of your sin. When we confess to God, He forgives and has through His Son made atonement for the sin and its penalty. In Him, Hosea reminds us, we find mercy. He has there in verse 3, “For in You the fatherless finds mercy.” Who are the fatherless? Those who have abandoned God for idols! They by their sin had orphaned themselves. And just like the Prodigal, they need to return.