How can Christians grieve over their sin without denying God's grace?
It’s very important to preach the gospel to yourself every day, to remind yourself every morning: “‘Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.’ There is absolutely nothing I can do to improve my status of justification. I am justified by faith alone in Christ alone.”
Historically, there are aspects of preaching repentance that veer into a kind of legalism that suggests you must demonstrate a certain quality of repentance, or it somehow undermines the nature of your justification. That’s a spiral that can lead to legalism.
Clearly understanding the difference between the indicative and the imperative, the grammar of the gospel, is important. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone, but that faith is never alone; it is always accompanied by works. Therefore, godly sorrow for sin should never undermine the nature of our acceptance with God, our justification. For me, it’s reminding myself of the platform of preaching the gospel to myself every day.
This is a transcript of Derek Thomas’s answer given during our 2020 Dallas-Fort Worth Conference, and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, just visit Ask.Ligonier.org or message us on Facebook or Twitter.