Here follow my sermon notes:
For those with linguistic inclinations like myself, you might be interested to learn that the name Capernaum has deep etymological significance. The most widely accepted translation for the name of this village is "Nahum's village" (no relation to the Old Testament prophet), although another possible translation is "Field of Repentance." It's quite remarkable that, as we read above, Jesus began his ministry not in his hometown of Nazareth, but by moving to a nearby town whose name meant field of repentance, and he also began his preaching career with that same word, "repent!"
II. By it, a sinner, out of the sight and sense not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, as contrary to the holy nature, and righteous law of God; and upon the apprehension of His mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, so grieves for, and hates his sins, as to turn from them all unto God, purposing and endeavouring to walk with Him in all the ways of His commandments.
Of note here is the well known phrase "then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin." Again, coming from a linguistic background, these words carry a great mental picture which is often encoded with hidden meaning when one looks at the richness of Middle Eastern language from which this translation is derived. Essentially, Jesus is painting a mental image of one covering their mouth and silently waving the person along. The literal translation of the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur is derived from this same etymological root, which means either to cover or atone or forgive. By metaphorically covering his mouth, Jesus declined the right to accuse her (and by extension all sinners) from their wrongdoing. He does end, however, with the often-overlooked admonition to "go now and leave your life of sin." The gospel requires you ot change the way you live, and not simply to enjoy "cheap grace," as Deitrich Bonhoeffer called it, by which some think they can live however they please.
III. Although repentance is not to be rested in, as any satisfaction for sin, or any cause of the pardon thereof, which is the act of God's free grace in Christ, yet it is of such necessity to all sinners, that none may expect pardon without it.
Now comes both the reassurance of our salvation, and also the stern warning that we MUST be willing to leave behind our sinful ways if we are to truly enjoy the gift of God's grace and not suffer his wrath. Though the finished work of our salvation on the cross allows us to have blessed assurance that we will see Heaven, we still bear a responsibility as followers of Christ not to treat the blood of the covenant lightly.
IV. As there is no sin so small, but it deserves damnation; so there is no sin so great, that it can bring damnation upon those who truly repent.
Again we receive a stern warning that salvation may be a free gift from God, but that by no means entitles us to look lightly upon sin. If we suppose a God whose standard is absolute perfection, then the slightest deviation from that standard warrants a death sentence. Fortunately, Jesus Christ already died that death for us, and it is our responsibility to live humbly and soberly aware of that terrible cost that was paid, and never to be flippant about it by continuing to sin.
V. Men ought not to content themselves with a general repentance, but it is every man's duty to endeavor to repent of his particular sins, particularly.
1 John 1:9
Though in reformed theology we take a somewhat dim view of the Catholic notions of "confession" and "penance," nevertheless the scripture is clear that we have a duty to be open and honest with our fellow believers about the sins we struggle with. We can lean on our fellow believers in times of temptaion and make use of their prayers and intercession to help us in our struggle to avoid or repent from sin. Ultimately only God can forgive sin, but the prayer of a righteous man (or woman) is indeed powerful and effective, and it can be very helpful to know that we don't walk through our struggles alone.
VI. As every man is bound to make private confession of his sins to God, praying for the pardon thereof; upon which, and the forsaking of them, he shall find mercy; so he that scandelizeth his brother, or the Church of Christ, ought to be willing, by a private or public confession and sorrow for his sin, to declare his repentance to those that are offended; who are thereupon to be reconciled to him, and in love to receive him.
Again, we go to our fellow believers for prayer and encouragement not because they have any more power before God than we do, but rather because scripture encourages us to rely on one another for mutual encouragement and intercession. Secrecy is the devil's weapon, and any sin that you intend to go on hiding is one that you will inevitably repeat. On the other hand, if you are open with a few trusted friends about your stuggles, you can rest assured that they will hold you accountable and hopefully, with the help of the Holy Spirit, prevent you from struggling with that particular sin again.