The motive of repentance: love to God


I am reading the book, The Doctrine of Repentance by the great Puritan writer, Thomas Watson. In it Watson gives six elements of true repentance:

  • Sight of sin
  • Sorrow for sin
  • Confession of sin
  • Shame for sin
  • Hatred for sin
  • Turning from sin

In the last element of true repentance, “Turning from sin,” Watson makes the point that turning from sin must be rooted in the right reason. He writes,

A man may restrain the acts of sin, yet not turn from sin in the right manner. Acts of sin may be restrained out of fear or design, but a true penitent turns from sin out of a religious principle, namely, love to God. Even if sin did not bear such bitter fruit, if death did not grow on this tree, a gracious soul would forsake it out of love to God (p. 54).

Categories: Christian living, God, Worship

4 replies

  1. Dr. Fabricatore,

    In Watson’s discussion, is this repentance part of sanctification, or a prerequisite for justification?

    Or both?


  2. Stephen,

    Most of the Puritans were writing for their congregations. Watson is one of the easier Puritans to read. Watson would argue that these are the marks of true repentance: believer or unbeliever. He would argue of course that the work of repentance in the heart of an unbeliever toward justification is a work of God’s grace alone.


  3. Dr. Fabricatore,

    Isn’t repentance “changing your mind about God and His gift in Christ?” In other words . . . would you agree that “repentance” is equivalent to “faith in God and His gift?” If that would be so, then . . . don’t you think that, Sight of sin, Sorrow for sin, Confession of sin, Shame for sin, Hatred for sin, Turning from sin are merely results from “repentance?”

    I have been trying to wrap my mind around the concept of repentance lately . . . it has been a difficult and somewhat confusing task at times. Thank you for your timely post!

    IN HIM

    Rod Bender

  4. Rod,

    I do believe that sometimes in the NT, repentance is used as an equivalent for faith (e.g. in Luke/Acts), but there is a also a turning from sin that we commit or become entangled in as believers. This is how Watson is using the concept most often in his book. The title of his book is “The Doctrine of True Repentance.” He argues that what many think of as a turning from sin is not repentance at all.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: