I have paid attention and listened,
but they have not spoken rightly;
no man relents of his evil,
saying, ‘What have I done?’
Everyone turns to his own course,
like a horse plunging headlong into battle.
The opposite of repentance is to continue in sin. Jeremiah paints a picture of the unrepentant person as one who is like a horse. This horse stands on the top of a hill looking down at the battle below. Determined to be a part of the battle, he charges head first down the hill and into the fray.
We have all seen the movies of such a calvary charge. Once that horse breaks into a gallop, nothing can stop him as he descends in charge mode. That is the manner in which we often charge into sin.
Jeremiah is hoping that these head strong sinners will reverse course and turn from their sinful ways. A key characteristic of the repentant person is that they cry out, “What have I done?”
It is looking behind at the path which God had for us and wondering why in the world would we have abandoned that path for one that leads to destruction. It is the inner anguish that rues exchanging God’s holiness for our sinfulness. It is being torn up over our foolishness.
When we clearly see the situations in which we place ourself by our sinful actions, we should shudder to the point of fleeing to Christ in repentance and faith.
As the murderer staring at the blood on his hands, we should cry “What have I done?”
As the adulterer seeing the hurt in his spouse’s eyes, we should cry, “What have I done?”
As the sinner beholds the shattered law of God, we should cry, “What have I done?”
Only then will we see what God has done in substituting his Son as payment for our sin. But dare not gloss over your sin and make foolish excuses. If you do, you will never grasp the meaning of Christ’s substitutionary death for us.