by Thomas Watson; from ‘The doctrine of repentance’
The fourth ingredient in repentance is shame: “that they may be ashamed of their iniquities” (Ezek. 43:10). Blushing is the color of virtue. When the heart has been made black with sin, grace makes the face red with blushing: “I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face” (Ezra 9:6). The repenting prodigal was so ashamed of his sinfulness, that he thought himself not worthy to be called a son any more (Luke 15:21). Repentance causes a holy bashfulness. If Christ’s blood were not at the sinner’s heart, there would not so much blood come in the face. There are nine considerations about sin which may cause shame:
(1) Every sin makes us guilty, and guilt usually breeds shame. Adam never blushed in the time of innocency. While he kept the whiteness of the lily, he had not the blushing of the rose. But when he had deflowered his soul by sin—then he was ashamed. Sin has tainted our blood. We are guilty of high treason against the Crown of heaven. This may cause a holy modesty and blushing.
(2) In every sin there is much unthankfulness, and that is a matter of shame. He who is upbraided with ingratitude will blush. We have sinned against God when he has given us no cause: “What iniquity have your fathers found in me?” (Jer. 2:5). Wherein has God wearied us, unless his mercies have wearied us? Oh the silver drops which have fallen on us! We have had the finest of the wheat; we have been fed with angels’ food. The golden oil of divine blessing has run down on us from the head of our heavenly Aaron. And to abuse the kindness of so good a God—how may this make us ashamed!
Julius Caesar took it unkindly at the hands of Brutus, on whom he had bestowed so many favors, when he came to stab him: “What, you, my son Brutus?” O ungrateful—to be the worse for mercy! One reports of the vulture, that it draws sickness from perfumes. To contract the disease of pride and luxury, from the perfume of God’s mercy—how unworthy is that! It is to requite evil for good, to kick against our feeder, “He nourished him with honey from the rock, and with oil from the flinty crag, with curds and milk from herd and flock and with fattened lambs and goats, with choice rams of Bashan and the finest kernels of wheat. You drank the foaming blood of the grape. Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked. He abandoned the God who made him and scorned the Rock of his salvation” (Deut. 32:13-15). This is to make an arrow of God’s mercies—and shoot at him! This is to wound him with his own blessing! O horrid ingratitude! Will not this dye our faces a deep scarlet? Unthankfulness is a sin so great, that God himself stands amazed at it: “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: I have nourished and brought up children—and they have rebelled against me!” (Isaiah 1:2).
(3) Sin has made us naked, and that may breed shame. Sin has stripped us of our white linen of holiness. It has made us naked and deformed in God’s eye—which may cause blushing. When Hanun had abused David’s servants and cut off their garments so that their nakedness appeared, the text says, “the men were greatly ashamed” (2 Sam. 10:5).
(4) Our sins have put Christ to shame, and should not we be ashamed? The Jews arrayed him in purple; they put a reed in his hand, spit in his face, and in his greatest agonies reviled him. Here was “the shame of the cross”. And that which aggravated the shame, was to consider the eminency of his person—as he was the Lamb of God. Did our sins put Christ to shame—and shall they not put us to shame? Did he wear the purple—and shall not our cheeks wear crimson? Who can behold the sun as it were blushing at Christ’s passion, and hiding itself in an eclipse—and his face not blush?
(5) Many sins which we commit are by the special instigation of the devil—and should not this cause shame? The devil put it into the heart of Judas to betray Christ (John 13:2). He filled Ananias’ heart to lie (Acts 5:3). He often stirs up our passions (James 3:6). Now, as it is a shame to bring forth a child illegitimately, so too is it to bring forth such sins as may call the devil father. It is said that the virgin Mary conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35)—but we often conceive by the power of Satan. When the heart conceives pride, lust, and malice—it is very often by the power of the devil. May not this make us ashamed to think that many of our sins are committed in copulation with the old serpent?