Blog 102: 3.3.19-3.3.20

Sean Lucas

Calvin returns to the points with which he opened the chapter: how do repentance and forgiveness of sins relate? And how does repentance connect with faith? Behind these questions is his main point--against the claims of his Catholic opponents, justification and sanctification always come together for and in those who put their faith in Christ and are so united to him.

He demonstrates this larger concern by opening with a rhetorical question, "Now if it is true--a fact abundantly clear--that the whole of the gospel is contained under these two headings, repentance and forgiveness of sins, do we not see that the Lord freely justifies his own in order that he may at the same time restore them to true righteousness by sanctification of his Spirit?" (3.3.19)

In order for a person to repent, he must know that he is a sinner and that "the treasures of God's mercy" are available in Jesus. Having seen this mercy, the individual repents from his sins and trusts in Jesus for forgiveness. And yet, this repentance is continual throughout life: "the life of a Christian man is a continual effort and exercise in the mortification of the flesh, till it is utterly slain, and God's Spirit reigns in us" (3.3.20).  Hating our sins and hastening to God, dying and rising daily, is the contour of the Christian life.

Is that your experience? Do you come daily before God, decrying your sins, hating and despising them, and fleeing to God in Christ for mercy and cleansing?