Come, let us return to the Lord . . . he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. (Hos. 6:1)

Sam thinks renewing his wedding vows will solve all his problems. He tarnished his first marriage by unfaithfulness, and the second isn’t fairing much better with at least two occasions more of unfaithfulness (that he’ll acknowledge). Still, I agree to perform a ceremony, and, still, two weeks later he is gone again with the same woman of his last affair. He eventually returns, and his wife takes him back.

A casual reading of these verses in Hosea makes it appear God’s people are serious about repentance; but Hosea was cautious—he had seen their sincerity before. Like so many of us, they mistakenly believed they could simultaneously hold on to sin and experience God’s presence: it’s the ultimate case of wishing to have one’s cake and eat it too. It’s impossible. You cannot simultaneously want separation from God (the essence of all sin) and His presence. There’s no logic to being faithful while being unfaithful.

God is no fool—no one can mock love for Him all the while being unfaithful at heart. And He knows the real issue—our hearts. Repentance is not shallow sorrow over getting caught but sincere regret over sin coupled with a willingness to turn in a different direction—from fleeing His love and mercy, to embracing it. Then God will heal the wounds that our separation from Him has brought about, but only when we turn back to the Healer.

Let “I’m sorry” be followed by changing direction back into God’s healing embrace.

Martin Wiles loves using his writing to help others move further in their journey toward spiritual maturity.