I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin. – Psalm 38:18
King Jehoram surprised the people by wearing sackcloth beneath his royal robe. Wearing sackcloth was highly significant; it denoted great sorrow and implied repentance for sin. However, an outward expression of repentance means nothing if it isn’t sincere. Immediately after revealing that he was clothed in sackcloth, Jehoram described how he planned to kill Elisha that very day (v.31) and blamed God’s servant for the disaster (v.33).
Perhaps you have known people who are quick to apologize, but then they go back to doing the same thing that they apologized for. A genuine apology and true repentance require a change in conduct. In fact, that is the meaning of the word repentance. It means to turn. To repent is not just to say to the Lord, “I’m sorry for my sin,” but it involves turning from that sin.
All of our life involves repentance, but unfortunately, because of the sinful nature within us, we never completely turn from sin. Instead, until the day we die, we struggle with sin and temptation. In the life of every true believer, repentance from the heart is so crucial, for godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death (2 Corinthians 7:10).
King Jehoram, like so many others, including Judas Iscariot, had a worldly sorrow. But by God’s grace may you and I have true repentance that leads to salvation, as our sins are covered by the precious blood of Jesus.
Suggestions for prayer
Pray the prayer of David, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!” (Psalm 51:1-2).
This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ted Gray has served as pastor of First United Reformed Church in Oak Lawn, Illinois for the last 15 years