“Rejoicing and repentance must go together. Repentance without rejoicing will lead to despair. Rejoicing without repentance is shallow and will only provide passing inspiration instead of deep change.
Indeed, it is when we rejoice over Jesus’s sacrificial love for us most fully that, paradoxically, we are most truly convicted of our sin. When we repent out of fear of consequences, we are not really sorry for the sin, but for ourselves.
Fear-based repentance (‘I’d better change or God will get me’) is really self-pity. In fear-based repentance, we don’t learn to hate the sin for itself, and it doesn’t lose its attractive power. We learn only to refrain from it for our own sake.
But when we rejoice over God’s sacrificial, suffering love for us– seeing what it cost Him to save us from sin– we learn to hate the sin for what it is. We see what the sin cost God.
What most assures us of God’s unconditional love (Jesus’s costly death) is what most convicts us of the evil of sin. Fear-based repentance makes us hate ourselves. Joy-based repentance makes us hate the sin.”
–Timothy J. Keller, Counterfeit Gods (New York: Dutton, 2009), 172.