In his book The Doctrine of Repentance Puritan pastor Thomas Watson says, “True sorrow must be habitual. O Christian, the disease of your soul is chronic and frequently returns upon you; therefore you must be continually physicking yourself by repentance.” You probably don’t use the word “physicking” much in your vocabulary, but the idea is one of healing, medicinal, or therapeutic. Watson is saying that repentance brings healing to us, so we should be repenting of sin often. This is what David means when he says-
“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.” Psalm 51:7-8
True repentance brings healing. True repentance brings healing because we turn to Jesus, our great Healer. Watson said, “I shall next show what gospel repentance is. Repentance is a grace of God’s Spirit whereby a sinner is inwardly humbled and visibly reformed. For a further amplification, know that repentance is a spiritual medicine made up of six special ingredients:
1. Sight of sin. “Sin must first be seen before it can be wept for.”
2. Sorrow of sin. “Our sorrow for sin must be such as makes us willing to let go of those sins which brought in the greatest income or profit or delight.”
3. Confession of sin. “True confession leaves heart-wounding impressions on a man… It is one thing to confess sin and another thing to feel sin… Our hearts must go along with our confessions… Confession gives glory to God…humbles the soul… purges out sin… endears Christ to the soul…makes way for pardon…”
4. Shame for sin. “It is a great shame not to be ashamed.”
5. Hatred for sin. “A true penitent is a sin-loather. If a man loathe that which makes his stomach sick, much more will he loathe that which makes his conscience sick… Sound repentance begins in the love of God and ends in the hatred of sin.”
6. Turning from sin. “Dying to sin is the life of repentance… Turning from sin is like pulling the arrow out of the wound; turning to God is like pouring in the balm… In true repentance the heart points directly to God as the needle to the North Pole…
If any one is left out it loses its virtue.
Since the disease of our soul is chronic, may our sorrow for sin be habitual.