Are You Sorry or Contrite? There’s A Big Difference

Sometimes in studying the Bible, I find the words that were given by the Holy Spirit to reveal the mind of God to us are amazing.

Psalm 51 has had a profound impact on my life and relationship with God. I thought I had a grasp of the word “Contrite” in it until I looked up the definition and Strong’s number.

Growing up Catholic, we learned the “Act of Contrition”

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.

So contrite means you’re sorry, really sorry, Right? Not Exactly!! Sorry is for things like a word spoken out of place or you forgot your wedding anniversary but your wife didn’t.

My first shock about “contrite” used in the Bible is that it appears only 5 times in 4 verses, and only in the Old Testament. There are 4 Hebrew words and Strong’s numbers for Contrite.  Their meanings emphasize what the Holy Spirit is trying to convey.

H1792 – to crumble; transitively to bruise (literally or figuratively): – beat to {pieces} break (in {pieces}) {bruise} {contrite} {crush} {destroy} {humble} {oppress} smite.

H1793 – crushed (literally {powder} or figuratively contrite): – {contrite} destruction.

H1794 – to collapse (physically or mentally): – break ({sore})

H5223 – {smitten} that {is} (literally) {maimed} or (figuratively) dejected: – {contrite} lame.

Psalm 34:18 KJV  The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite (H1793) spirit.

Psalm 51:17 KJV  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite (H1794) heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Isaiah 66:2 KJV  For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord : but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite (H5223) spirit, and trembleth at my word.

Isaiah 57:15-16 KJVS   For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place with him also that is of a contrite (H5223)and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones (H1792).16 For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made.

The person that is beaten to pieces, crushed to powder, destroyed, maimed, physically or mentally, maybe both can cry out to God from a contrite heart and He Will Hear. It doesn’t even matter if they brought all this upon themselves through acts of disobedience to man or God. Actually, all sin is against God. Isaiah 57:16 points out how close to perishing this person is (for the spirit should fail before me) , God indwells that person to revive them (restore to life or consciousness).

In Isaiah 57:16, it links the anger (wroth) and God fighting (contend) against a person that has brought them to a place where they are almost completely destroyed. Ellicott’s commentary says, “The time during which God “contends” with him as an accuser and a judge has its limits. Were it not so. the souls which he had made would be utterly consumed, and His purpose in creation would be frustrated.” God is not waiting for you to mess up one more time so He can punish you or worst yet, kill you. Why?

Psalm 115:17 NKJV  The dead do not praise the Lord, nor any who go down into silence.

In Psalm 51, David says pretty much the same thing as Ellicott,  Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. God wants us to repent from our sins so He can breath His Life afresh in us and receive our praises to Him.

I don’t think it’s saying God breaks our bones, causes cancer, crushes us to powder or maims us for life. But we do have to remember when Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord all night and his name was changed to Israel, he walked with a limp the rest of his life.

God is a Good God and a Loving Father. Many places the bible tells us that parents should discipline their children. Hebrews says,

Hebrews 12:6-7 KJV  For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

I think God delegates the chastening in a round about way so that it’s accomplished but not by His hand.

The bible says in James chapter 1  13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

Hebrews 11:25 KJV Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;

 Satan is the one who is accomplishing his work through the sin we willfully commit. He even brings it packaged in pretty ways and appealing to every lust of the flesh. There are pleasures in sin but when the “season” is up there is a price to pay. Like a credit card, the minimum payments aren’t hard to make but when the “payment in full” is required we realize the prettiness and pleasure of sin was just an illusion. We took the bait, fell in the trap and submitted to the dominion of satan who has 1 goal to “kill, steal and destroy” the people of God.

If you admit your guilt to God, own up to it and not blame everyone else, from a “contrite heart” God will hear and have pity because he knows our weakness to fall.

That’s where we can hear Jesus’ words as He was suffering on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”

There is something really amazing to discover when you realize that God stepped in to rescue you just in the nick of time. When He’s intervened in your situation after you cried out to Him with a “Contrite Heart and Spirit,” you realize you have never felt so close God. It’s like He is with you, Loving on you, healing and accepting you. You can almost feel God’s Arms of Love around you. If you’ve ever experienced this you’ll know exactly what I’m saying. If not you probably think I’m crazy.

The Old Testament speaks of God always being High and Exalted on a throne. Unapproachable by a mere human as with Moses, God had to hide Moses in the cleft of a rock or else the Holiness of God would have consumed him. In the Tabernacle in the wilderness and in Solomon’s Temple, only the high priest and only one day per year could he enter the Holy of Holies to be in the presence of God, but the prophet Isaiah says,

Isaiah 57:15-16 KJVS  For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I DWELL in the high and holy place , with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones

 God will “dwell” with a repentant (view or think of (an action or omission) with deep regret or remorse)   sinner who has confessed and turned away from their sin and have turned to God completely.

2 Corinthians 7:10 KJV  For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

Godly sorrow and repentance realizes, “my sin is ultimately against God, I deserve to pay the full payment of my sin according to God’s word which in many cases involved the death of that person. As was the case of King David. He had committed adultery and caused the murder of an honorable and loyal man. He knew the letter of the law required his death. God took the life of the child but David knew it was himself that deserved the sentence of death. Godly repentance involves many things beyond just saying, “I’m sorry.”  Partly it’s making restitution if possible for the wrong that was done. Sometimes that even involves forgiving yourself. Satan has many devices in his arsenal to bring a child of God to his goal of complete destruction. One of satan’s traps is to put you in a position where God pulls His Hand of Protection away from you because of your chosen sin (s). That is exactly what Balaam did when he couldn’t speak a curse against Israel. He showed Balak how to draw the Israelites into sexual sin (Numbers 25) and idol worship that brought the curse upon the Israelites. The plaque God allowed to come upon them took 24,000 lives.

2 Corinthians 7:10 but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

This is when you are sorry that you got caught. You still relish your sin and want more of it. You cry out to God for help to get out of the trouble you’re in but never realizing God did something wonderful for you.

Best of all, God will “Dwell” in a Contrite heart, that expresses Godly repentance, bringing Salvation which brings EVERYTHING of God into your life. This includes an outpouring of the Love of God and “Love For God” and the “Peace of God” because you are at “Peace With God” into your heart. If you are not agreeing with God (Isaiah 57:16) there will be no peace from or with God.  Amos 3:3 says we can walk with God if we “agree” with Him. That means walking in the Truth of His Word. Remember, “create in me a clean heart O God and restore a right spirit within me.”

The Apostle John tells us how to stay in fellowship with God’s Spirit so we are constantly indwelt by Him. As He helps us understand His Word, “light” and we chose to walk in that light revealed to us, we can stay in communion with God peacefully.

1 John 1:7 KJV But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

People that honestly understand how worthless and shameful they’ve been in life and the multitude of sins Jesus’ blood cleansed them from develop a deep love for God. You know, I deserved rebuke, Jesus gave me Love. I deserved hell, Jesus offers me eternity in Heaven. I felt shame and guilt, Jesus’ Blood cleansed my conscious, something the blood of bulls and goats could never do, (Hebrews 9:7-15)  I know there are other people out there that think, “I’ve done too much, I’m beyond  redemption, God would never think of forgiving me,” IT’S NOT SO!! Jesus made a point of telling the world the kind of people that would have the most love for Him.

A Sinful Woman Forgiven, Luke 7:36-50 NKJV   36 Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. 37 And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, 38 and stood at His feet BEHIND Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”

40 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” So he said, “Teacher, say it.”

41 “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.”

And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” 44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”

48 Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

Once I decided to get serious with God and asked Him to show me all the things in my heart that were not pleasing to him, my life changed and my understanding of God’s Word changed. When I became Born Again at 37 I had a resentment towards the church that never encouraged the reading and applying of God’s Word. After many years of reading God’s Word for myself I still struggled with sin because of doctrine that says, “we are no longer under the law, we are under grace” that promotes a license to sin because, “God’s Grace Is Sufficient.”

But I had experienced the Loving Arms of my savior many times in the early years after being Born Again. Times I felt He was washing away all the guilt and shame of my sins and His presence So REAL and overwhelming. I just couldn’t see Him with my eyes but I knew He was there. Those times became fewer and farther apart the more I accepted sin in my life under the “thorn of the flesh” excuse.

In my testimony I state how God began to unravel that belief and drew me back to Him. I then developed a resentment to the lies in many churches of a trampling of the Grace and Blood of Jesus Christ. People I love dearly have accused me of being subject to “The Law” and promoting legalism by condemning sin. My answer then and now is, “Do you really think Jesus will be upset with me when I tell people they shouldn’t sin?” How many times did Jesus say, ‘Go and sin no more”

My evidence that what I’m saying about “real repentance” being correct is the fellowship with God I have. The more I accept and walk in the Light of His Word as He reveals it to me, the more unbroken times of fellowship with God I experience. Another evidence of “real repentance” in my life is that I’m not as much concerned about the troubles sin would bring to my life.  I am more concerned of the reproach to the name of Jesus Christ my sin would cause. So much so that I began praying, “God please take my life before you allow me to be a reproach to Your Holy Name” and I still pray that prayer today and mean it.

If you want to learn more about what true repentance is and isn’t search Youtube for a wise, elderly man that spent his life studying God sent revival. Richard Owen Roberts, Revival and Repentance. I’ve listened to many of his messages repeated times to really absorb his wisdom in the Word of God. Revival is always preceded by prayer, conviction of sin and true repentance. 2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV

I once had a dream or a vision, I’m not sure which, during a time of fervent prayer where I saw two feet in sandals. I’ve learned there’s no better place to be than at the feet of Jesus. If you’re at His Feet, you have His Ear





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