Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Conviction Over Sin and Genuine Sorrow

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Here’s a heart-healthy habit you and I need to practice on a regular basis. Mary Kassian explains.

Mary Kassian: I sin whenever I fail to love God, whenever I fail to esteem Him and trust Him and wholeheartedly seek after Him.

Nancy: We’ll hear more from Mary today. This is Revive Our Hearts for Tuesday, April 27, 2021. I’m Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Hey Dannah, when you’re getting ready to go on a trip, do your bedroom and closet look anything like mine?

Dannah: Why do I feel like that's a loaded question? We've talked about this before!

Nancy: Yes, we have. That’s something Mary Kassian talked about in a message she gave at Revive ’19. A little background . . . The night before we left for the conference, you and Mary and I had all been texting about the struggles we were having trying to decide what to take to the conference. In fact, when Mary first started speaking, she played a video clip of you talking about your packing woes.

Dannah [on video]: Just because one suit fit does not mean my wardrobes problems have been solved! I have so many problems! [Mary and the ladies laugh as the camera zooms on to Dannah’s bed piled with clothes and her open closet nearby] Look at my bed! Nothing there fits. Look at that! Nothing there fits, nothing there fits. (whimpering) I’m getting hysterical!

Dannah: Oh, that's a video I didn't think the whole world would ever see! I remember packing for that conference, and feeling all the stress and all the decisions. I also remember that Mary sent a video . . .

Mary [video moves to Mary at her home, her bed and the bed in the guest room]: Hey, girls, it’s the pre-conference packing woes! Yeah, there you go. (ladies laugh) And that’s like my guest bedroom. (laughter) This is my bedroom . . . on the floor . . . (sighs) . . . everywhere. Aaaaah! It’s conference ti-i-i-i-me!

Dannah: But Nancy, you didn’t send us a video. You wise women, you. Mary was not about to let you off the hook! So at the conference, she showed pictures of overloaded cars. The ones you see on missions trips in foreign countries, the ones piled like fifty suitcases high! She imagined the was you and Robert driving to Indianapolis with your entire wardrobe. 

Mary: And this is what they looked like, driving to Indianapolis. (laughter)

Nancy: If you want to see the funny videos and photos Mary showed, just head over to ReviveOurHearts.com, and look for the transcript of today’s program. You'll find those in a link to the right of the transcript.

As you’re about to hear, Mary did a great job of helping us see literal baggage as a metaphor for sin in our lives.

Now, Mary is no stranger to Revive Our Hearts. She's been on this program many times over the years. She's a Canadian, she's a wife, mom, grandmom. She's written many fabulous books. One of things I most appreciate about her is that she, Dannah, and I have shared a close friendship over many years. She has been such a gift to our lives personally. I think you'll see why as we listen to part one of Mary's message. She talks about the marks of genuine repentance—that is, getting rid of the baggage; turning away from sin.

Mary: When I was traveling through Asia, I was amazed to see motorbikes and tuk-tuks and trucks and all sorts of vehicles—buses—piled sky-high with obviously way more than they ought to have been carrying. They were dangerously top heavy and unstable, and I could tell that they were just really susceptible to crash.

So I didn’t want to be anywhere near them in case they hit a bump or in case a strong gust of wind happened to blow! Now, here in North America, we have strict rules about how much weight can be on a vehicle. I couldn’t bring my whole closet of clothes to Indy because airline passengers are limited in the amount of baggage that they can check in on the airline . . . and there’s a good reason for that.

Overloading an airplane is extremely dangerous! In 2001, twenty-two year-old actress and R & B singer Aaliyah and her film crew were killed because the plane that they were on (they had boarded in the Bahamas) was carrying more people and more baggage than it was authorized to carry. 

And there’s a spiritual analogy here. Like that overloaded plane, we can be overloaded with unauthorized baggage. And that was the case with a group of weak women in Ephesus that I wrote about in my book The Right Kind of Strong. One of the reasons they were spiritually weak was because they were burdened with sins.

The Greek word for “burden” means “to be loaded with a heap or with a pile of something.” The word was sometimes used to describe loading up a cart with more and more, by piling more and more on top. It’s just an accumulation—a pile that’s heavy and weighty and cumbersome and really difficult to manage.

These weak women were overloaded with the piles of sin that made them spiritually unstable and susceptible to crash. Now, there are burdens we are meant to carry, and there are burdens we are not meant to carry. The Lord gives us the ability to face the hardships of life, the difficulties of life. 

Many of you today are feeling overwhelmed and overloaded by the difficulties you’re facing in life. Well you can be assured that God will give you the strength to bear those burdens, but we’re not meant to bear the burdens of unconfessed sin and of guilt and of shame. That’s why Jesus came! Jesus came to relieve us of that burden and to take that load from us. 

If you’re loaded down with sin, you will be far more likely to crash; you will be weak, and you’ll be unstable. The writer of Hebrews admonishes us: “Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1). Are you laying aside every weight? Are you ditching the baggage?

Spiritually strong women keep sin, guilt, and shame from piling up in their lives through the ongoing habit of confession and repentance. In this session we’re going to look at David’s confession in Psalm chapter 51, and we’re going to talk about some of the marks of genuine repentance.

David wrote this psalm after he was confronted about having an extramarital affair. And, for those of you unfamiliar with the story, David was Israel’s second king. His men were off fighting a war and, for whatever reason, David stayed behind at the palace. 

Looking out of the window one day David caught a glimpse of a beautiful woman taking a bath. Her name was “Bath”-sheba. (laughter) (No pun intended there.) Bathsheba was the wife of Uriah. Uriah was one of David’s elite, mighty fighting warriors. If David were King Arthur, Uriah would have been one of his Knights of the Round Table.

So David summoned Bathsheba to the palace for dinner, and one thing led to another, and he ended up sleeping with her and getting her pregnant. He called Uriah back home from battle in hopes that Uriah would sleep with his wife and claim the baby as his own, but Uriah was a man of integrity, and he wouldn’t break wartime protocol by sleeping with his wife.

So David sent him back to battle, and he instructed another general to withdraw the troops and leave Uriah on the front, essentially having him murdered. And then, David took Bathsheba as his wife. And after this sordid betrayal that reads like some sort of soap opera—messy situation—the prophet Nathan comes and confronts David about his sin, and Psalm 51 is how David responds. David prays,

 Be gracious to me, God, according to your faithful love; according to your abundant compassion, blot out my rebellion. Completely wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. For I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me (Ps. 51:1–3 CSB).

The first mark of genuine repentance is genuine conviction. David said, “I am conscious of my rebellion. My sin is always before me!” The fact that he had sinned was eating David up. It bothered him; he was aggravated; he was conscience-stricken. He understood that, at its core, sin is an act of rebellion against a holy God!

In Christian circles we tend to use the word “conviction” as an adjective. We associate conviction with the way that we feel. “I’m feeling conviction. I’m feeling guilty. My conscience is bothering me.” But, technically, conviction isn’t an adjective; conviction is a noun. It’s much more than a feeling.

What is conviction? Conviction is a fixed or firm belief; it’s the state of being convinced that I am guilty of wrongdoing. Genuine conviction says, “I am conscious of my rebellion . . . and my sin is always before me!”

In Canada, when you say the word “sin,” people think you’re talking about their social Insurance number. (laughter) Your SIN is a nine-digit ID issued by the government that authorizes a person to work. So every year when I’m filling out my taxes I come to the question, “What is your SIN?” (laughter) And the form leaves a space of about two inches! 

I always chuckle, because I think, There’s no way I can list all my sin in that amount of space! Well, what is sin? Scripture teaches us that sin is failing to reach God’s perfect standard. I sin whenever I do something that God says I should not do, or whenever I do not do something that He says I should do.

Almost everyone would agree that actions like adultery and theft and murder qualify as sin. We’re not shocked that David was convicted of sin. Of course he was! He was clearly guilty! Adultery, murder . . . his sin was obvious! But what about sins like comparison, jealousy, resentment, sensuality, contempt, self-promotion, snarkiness, gluttony, lack of self-discipline, self-indulgence, cowardice, materialism? 

Like it or not, the Bible also calls these things “sin.” And God is the One who defines what sin is—not you, not me, and not popular culture. I sin whenever I fail to love God, whenever I fail to esteem Him and trust Him and wholeheartedly seek after Him. Anything that is not a faith-filled response to circumstances is also sin. 

Therefore my worry and anxiety and fear can be sin. And then there are the sins of neglect: leaving good works undone, failing to use our talents, squandering time, or ignoring the injured and needy. And then there’s the sin of pride. 

Now, we could tend to categorize some sins as “minor.” They’re minor sins; we do them all the time. We don’t even think about them as sin. We don’t feel that they too are the sign of a rebellious heart. The problem with sin is a serious one. It interferes with our relationship with God; it burdens us; it wearies us. It weighs us down!

And unconfessed sin usually leads to more sin. Sin leads to sin. The pile gets higher and higher and higher. The Bible teaches that we get rid of this unauthorized baggage by earnestly and habitually confessing our sin. 

Now, the word “confess” is a translation of the Greek word homologeo, from homos, which means “the same” and lego, which means “to speak.”

To confess means to say the same thing as another or to agree with another. Confession of sin means that we agree with God. We say the same thing about our sin that He says about it. We view it the same way that He does. Do you view sin the same way that God does? Does sin bother you? Or do you tolerate it or shrug it off as inconsequential? Do you take the problem of sin seriously?

The first mark of genuine repentance is genuine conviction. Genuine conviction says, “I am conscious of my rebellion. Those condescending words that came out of my mouth today were rebellion against God. That lustful image that I entertained and fantasized about was rebellion against God. That feeling of envy and resentment was rebellion against God. That misrepresentation about what really happened was rebellion against God. That procrastination and lack of self-discipline was rebellion against God. That attempt to appear what I am not was rebellion against God!”

Romans 8:1 assures us that there “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” God mercifully forgives and cleanses us from all sin: past, present, and future—but that does not mean that sin is a trivial matter! Anyone who wants to live a victorious Christian life needs to take the problem of sin seriously. They are genuinely convicted about the sin that they see in their lives. 

The first mark of genuine repentance is genuine conviction. The second mark of genuine repentance is genuine sorrow. Have you ever had someone hurt you and tell you he was sorry, but you suspected he really wasn’t? Politicians, right? They are masters at the “unapologetic apology.”

They say things like, “I’m sorry if some of you were offended by what I did.” Everyone knows that’s not a genuine apology. That’s not genuine sorrow. Scripture teaches that there is a right way and a wrong way to relate to God after we have sinned. True confession is more than just verbally acknowledging our guilt, or that we did something wrong.

True confession requires genuine sorrow. In 2 Corinthians 7, Paul uses the contrasting terms “godly grief” and “worldly grief.” What’s the difference? Well, first off, grief is the heartache, sorrow and remorse that we feel when we do something wrong. It’s feeling sorry. But according to Paul, our sorrow can fall into one of two categories: it can be worldly or it can be godly.

Worldly grief is self-centered. It is caused by the loss or denial of something we want for ourselves. We mainly feel sorry about the fall-out. We’re not really sorry that we violated God’s laws; we’re just sorry about the painful mess. Worldly grief results in counterfeit confessions. When you say “sorry” with worldly grief what you’re really saying is, “I’m sorry I got caught!”

“I’m sorry this will damage my reputation. I’m sorry that someone else feels hurt by me and angry with me. I’m sorry about the consequences that I’m going to face. I’m sorry this has created so much conflict and turmoil. I’m sorry it’s diminished my peace and my happiness. I’m sorry I’ve made a mess of my life!” Worldly grief is wrapped up in how my offense is impacting me; it’s self-centered. 

Godly grief is inherently God-centered. We’re sorry that we’ve sinned against God and that we’ve broken His holy and just law. Even though we feel sorry about how our sin has hurt others, we’re mainly sorry that we have damaged our relationship with Him.

Psalm 51, verse 4: David says he’s sorry. He says, 

Against you—you alone—I have sinned and done this evil in your sight. So you are right when you pass sentence; you are blameless when you judge.

Notice the words of David’s confession: “Against you—you alone—I have sinned.” Well, wait a minute! Wasn’t David sin against Uriah and Bathsheba? Well, while the Bible recognizes the horizontal person-to-person nature of sin, it mainly presents sin as a vertical person-to-God offense. 

When the wife of Potiphar tried to seduce Joseph he cried out, “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” He didn’t even mention her husband. The most important truth about sin is this: all sin is primarily sin against God. David understood this. He recognized that the essence of sin is rebellion against a holy God.

Though he undoubtedly sinned against Bathsheba, Uriah, their families, his family, his men, all sorts of people, and he owed them an apology, what he was primarily concerned with when he came to confess was getting his relationship right with God.

So when Brent [Mary’s husband] says something that rubs me the wrong way (not that he ever does that, Sweetheart) and I respond, and I’m irritated and I’m kind of snippety and bite his head off, the main problem I’m having is not with me and Brent. The main problem I’m having is with me and God!

Until I get this vertical relationship right, I have little chance of getting the horizontal one right. The reason you’re having trouble in your relationships, the reason you can’t seem to ditch the baggage, the reason you are dealing with the baggage of sin and guilt and shame and are stuck in a sin pattern may be because you are repenting with worldly sorrow instead of godly sorrow.

Nancy: Wow! This is such an important distinction Mary is making between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow. It may seem uncomfortable to talk about sin and guilt and shame, but as we’ve heard today, it’s good, and oh-so-necessary. And the fruit of repentance is oh-so-sweet! Mary Kassian has been showing us what genuine repentance looks like. She’s sharing from a message she gave at Revive ’19, and we’ll hear that third mark of genuine repentance (genuine transformation) tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Dannah: Hearing that message today gets me more and more excited. Because Mary is going to be one of the speakers at Revive ’21 this fall. Hope you have your calendar marked for October 8–9. You have a few different options for how you can be part of the conference!

Nancy: That’s right—Revive ’21 is both an in-person and online conference. It's all going to be a little different this year. For starters, if you want to join us in person in Indianapolis, you'll need to plan to register in plenty of time because we will have a limited number of seats available so we can keep everything compliant with whatever the COVID restrictions may be at that time.

Or if you prefer, you'll be able to watch online from your home. We are going to handling that differently this year than we have in past years, so you'll want to be sure to visit ReviveOurHearts.com so you can get the details on what's involved in the in-person experience in Indianapolis or to watch it online. Either way, we want you to be sure to  have the full conference experience.

Together, whether in person or online, we’re going to explore what it means to stand firm in a shaking world as we focus on the Revive '21 theme: Grounded. In fact, Dannah, you’re going to be helping to host the livestream.

Dannah: You bet I am, along with Erin Davis, Portia Collins, Alejandra Slemin. If those names sound familiar, it's because they are my cohosts on our Monday morning videocast, Grounded. See the theme working out there? To sign up for Revive '21, visit ReviveOurHearts.com. You can find out more details and register there.

Nancy: Today, Mary Kassian talked about genuine conviction and genuine sorrow. Tomorrow, the beautiful third mark of true repentance: genuine transformation. I hope you’ll join us as we continue to trust God to revive our hearts. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries. 

All Scripture is taken from the CSB.

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About the Speaker

Mary Kassian

Mary Kassian

Mary Kassian is an award-winning author, an internationally-renowned speaker, and a frequent guest on Revive Our Hearts. She has written more than a dozen books and Bible studies, including …

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