Abandoning Sin in the Right Way by David Clarkson

Those who abandon sin but don’t strive to conquer it might wish to keep it under control, but not obliterate it. They may want to restrain its outbursts without entirely starving it out. They aim for containment, not eradication.

Those who do not consciously avoid the circumstances that lead to sin are still feeding it. They allow the same conditions that have previously lured them into sinful acts to persist. For instance, someone truly remorseful for their habit of excessive drinking will stay away from the company that tempts them to indulge. A person repenting for impurity, similar to Job, will make a pledge with their own eyes to abstain. Someone sorry for using profane language will mind their words carefully.

Someone regretting breaking the Sabbath will manage their affairs in advance, ensuring they have no reason to disregard it or to be absent from public worship. A person repenting for being distracted during prayer will be vigilant against interruptions, pushing them away. If you don’t turn away from the circumstances that lead to sin, you’re not truly turning away from sin, thus not genuinely repenting.

Someone who is not actively using duties or tasks that help weaken the pull of sin may not apply teachings to their conscience that damage their sinful tendencies. They might dismiss harsh words, or words of rebuke and terror, as too painful, much like a corrosive bandage on a wound. They may even become angry at the person speaking those words, labeling them as overly critical or too stringent.

David Clarkson, ‘Of Repentance’ in The Practical Works of David Clarkson, B.D., Fellow and Tutor of Clare Hall, Cambridge, ed. Thomas Smith (3 vols, Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1864-65), 1: 44-45.

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