Continual Repentance

This week (and maybe longer), I am going to give particular attention to the subject of repentance in the Christian life.  By that I do not mean repentance at the point of conversion but the ongoing work of repentance at every point from conversion until complete conformity to Christ.  Martin Luther, signaling the start of the Reformation through his 95 Theses, began on this note:

“When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’ (Mt. 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”

I believe this is one of the most underrated truths in contemporary evangelicalism, and I want to draw our attention to the fact that our entire lives should be one of repentance.  Here is a prayer from the Valley of Vision called “Continual Repentance” that I am praying for myself and those who seek to join me in the upcoming days.

O God of Grace,

Thou hast imputed my sin to my substitute,
and hast imputed his righteousness to my soul,
clothing me with a bridegroom’s robe,
decking me with jewels of holiness.

But in my Christian walk I am still in rags;
my best prayers are stained with sin;
my penitential tears are so much impurity;
my confessions of wrong are so many aggravations of sin;
my grieving the Spirit is tinctured with selfishness.

I need to repent of my repentance;
I need my tears to be washed;
I have no robe to bring to cover my sins,
no loom to weave my own righteousness;
I am always standing clothed in filthy garments,
and by grace am always receiving change of raiment,
for thou dost always justify the ungodly;
I am always going off into the far country,
and always returning home as a prodigal,
always saying, Father forgive me,
and thou art always bringing forth the best robe.

Every morning let me wear it,
every evening return in it,
go out to the day’s work in it,
be married in it,
be wound in death in it,
stand before the great white throne in it,
enter heaven in it shining as the sun.

Grant me never to lose sight of
the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
the exceeding righteousness of salvation,
the exceeding glory of Christ,
the exceeding beauty of holiness,
the exceeding wonder of grace.

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3 Comments on “Continual Repentance”


  1. […] Packer on Repentance Posted on October 6, 2009 by bkingr Timmy Brister is starting a blog series on the importance of ongoing repentance in a Christian’s […]


  2. Absolutely! I was in a class last year at church that studied John Owens’ writings on the mortification of sin. One big thing that took much time to clear up for a student or two was the difference between justification and sanctification. A not uncommon misconception especially among people who have been Christians from a young age and raised well morally is the conflation of the two where it is thought that the committing of sins is all but eliminated in the Christian’s life immediately following conversion.

    There’s a written prayer I hear at a spiritual leadership retreat from time to time that has a line regarding our repentance and God’s forgiveness: “We pray for the one who needs it the most, and for the one who thinks they need it the least.”

    So preach on. This is perhaps the part of the gospel that is the most underpreached and undertaught to believers in the Western Church.


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