In men's group we just started a series on Hebrews 6:1-2 in which 'repentance' is listed as one of the foundational teachings about Christ. In discussing the whole idea of repentance, I was drawn to 1 Samuel chapter 15, which seems to be on my mind a lot lately. In context, King Saul had disobeyed a direct command from the Lord, but instead of repenting, he attempted the following methods:
First Saul tried to conceal his sin. In v. 13 Saul simply pretended that he had obeyed the command as given. It was a direct lie, but perhaps he thought Samuel wouldn't notice the stolen sheep and cattle round the corner. The fact that we try to hide our sin proves that we know that it is sin indeed. But usually when our actions can no longer be hidden, we move on to other tactics. Saul, for instance, tried to cast the blame on others. It was the soldiers (v. 15a) fault for not annihilating all as commanded! Once again, though, shifting the blame proves that there's blame to be cast. Next, Saul tried to compare his sin with his general obedience (v. 15b). Sure he hadn't annihilated the Amalekites, but he'd certainly squashed the vast majority. He'd done more good than bad! What was the big deal? Three excuses in just 3 verses. But Saul wasn't done, after being rebuked by Samuel he continued to try to slime his way out of his sin. He actually convinced himself that what he had done was OK (v. 20). This level of self-deception is best reached at the end of a process of self-justification, but there was 1 more avenue to pursue. Saul, finally, claimed to have had pure motives for his disobedience. He had failed to annihilate all the sheep and cattle because he wanted to sacrifice them to the Lord. The end, for Saul, justified the means.
Saul tried all the tricks in the book, but there is only 1 thing to do with sin: Repent of it! Repentance is foundational to the Christian life. As Christians, we don't conceal our sin. We don't cast the blame on others. We don't compare our sins with our general goodness. We don't convince ourselves that sin is alright. And we don't try to claim pure motives behind our sins. If Christians sin, they repent. It's what Christians do. It's foundational to our faith. And God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.