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Biblical Repentance

December 26, 2008

Scripture reading of verses on repentance –
Ps 7:12 –  If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword; He has bent His bow and made it ready.
Jer 15:7 –  “I will winnow them with a winnowing fork At the gates of the land; I will bereave {them} of children, I will destroy My people; They did not repent of their ways.
Eze 14:6 –  “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, ” Repent and turn away from your idols and turn your faces away from all your abominations.
Eze 18:30 – “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, each according to his conduct,” declares the Lord GOD. ” Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity may not become a stumbling block to you.
Eze 18:32 – “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord GOD. “Therefore, repent and live.”
Mt 4:17 –  From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Luke 13:5  “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Ac 3:19 – “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;
Ac 8:22 –  “Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you.
Ac 17:30 – “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent,
Re 3:19 –  `Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.
Isa 30:15 – For thus the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, In quietness and trust is your strength.” But you were not willing,
Mt 3:8 –  “Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance;
Lu 3:8 –  “Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, `We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.
Lu 5:32 –  “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
Lu 15:7 –  “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Lu 24:47 – and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
Ac 5:31 –  “He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
2Pe 3:9 –  The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

Introduction – In fact, they finally come to the place where even though they have celebrated Him as Messiah on Palm Sunday, they cry for His blood on Friday at the crucifixion. And when you get to the book of Acts and the believers in Jerusalem are gathered in the Upper Room, there’s only 120 of them (cf. none born greater than John) and that’s after the full ministry of John and Jesus is completed…..why do we not sense that danger of shallow conversions today? Be/c we have faith in our faith in Jesus…Explain concept…….people are same today as yesterday, why do we think it is so easy to ‘repent’ of our sins…folks, don’t let any preacher lull you into spiritual lethargy…you must strive to enter the narrow gate….does you life right now match a life that has repented…not ‘did you say a prayer, ask Jesus into your heart, etc.”

Jesus ended his ministry with the charge that his gospel message was to be proclaimed as a message of repentance – Luke 24:47 “He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
I.    The challenge – It was: 1) John’s message 2) Christ’s message a. He started with this message of repentance – Matt. 4:17 “From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He ended His ministry with it. Luke 24:47 “repentance and the forgiveness of sins” 3) Apostle’s message 4) God’s command – God commands men everywhere to repent – Acts 17:30
II.    What is repentance?
1.    Repentance is taking full responsibility for the sin
2.    taking sides with God against myself
3.    Repentance is turning from the idol we serve to the true God
What do we mean by idols? How does that tie into sin? Sin is not just a transgression of a law of God. It involves a turning from God in unbelief and turning to something else as a “god”. When I sin I am saying to God, “I do not trust you. I do not believe your way is good and best. I do not believe you are wise.” In place of the true God I worship pleasure, a lover, a lie, my money, a career advancement, my reputation etc. We cannot worship God and sin. We cannot sin without worshipping idols. Deep in the heart of man there is a powerful pull of idolatry. We want to worship this other god because of the pleasure it brings us. W/ repentance – you rethink what you at one had dismissed or had never seriously thought of before (that is, your sin)…but it does involve more than that… you change your mind about it
3) the Westminster Confession defines it as ”a sinner, out of the sight and sense not only of the danger, but also 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 endeavoring to walk with him in all ways of his commandments. (XV.2)
4) I conclude that repentance involves believing God (Jonah 3:5) rather than the Satan’s claim that more joy can be found in sin than in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. Sin/repentance are always to be defined in light of the character of God. True repenters reflect on personal sin, they recognize divine wrath, but also they reject religious ritual. they renounce ancestry
5) you change your will about sin/nature and God’s offer of forgiveness, which results in a change of behavior!
6) True repentance will have sorrow but this sorrow will also have an increasing desire to look to Christ for hope. Having sorrow and failing to see God’s promise of hope in Christ is only despair and not repentance. Christ is the starting place and goal of true repentance. We may consider repentance as a work of sanctifying grace, arising from the sense of bypast sin, and hope of future mercy, whereby the heart is both affected with indignation in respect of what is past, and warmed with desire and love in respect of what it expects.
7) Repentance is ultimately a changed view of God. A change from a common acceptance/toleration (even rejection) of to whole committal/love/trust to Him in the person of Jesus Christ and His finished work.
III.    What is all involved in repentance? What is in people is engaged in people when repentance happens/takes place? In other words, what must be involved in your person with true repentance?
1.    the mind – the mind must be informed with the truth of who God is, what he is like, what he requires, of his holy law, of his wrath against lawbreakers, of his holy requirements…it is not first  a push for someone to ‘do/decide’ something for Christ… is not contentless…
2.    your affections-You must not only desire your sins to be covered but to be done away with in your living. In other words, it’s not “God be nice and just don’t look at all my bad.” But it’s “God, be merciful to me a sinner and remove sin from way of living, my sin account, and my desires.”  Repentance makes you hate sin because you know that sin pushes the glorious God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ away from you. You hate sin because as the deer pants for the water, so you soul longs after Him. “
3.    your will – a resolved change of the whole person to leave sin and cling to Jesus Christ
IV.    What it is not?
1.    The idea that genuine repentance could result in anything but a change of life is completely foreign to Scripture. Biblically, a person who repents does not continue willfully in sin. Repentance is a turning from sin, and it always results in changed behavior (Luke 3:8). While sorrow from sin is not equivalent to repentance, it is certainly an element of scriptural repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10). It is not “faith plus repentance” that saves, but rather a repentant faith. The notion that salvation is possible apart from a genuine, heartfelt repentance, which includes a deep hatred of sin, is just plain biblically wrong.
2.    A ‘decision’ for Jesus. It’s not enough to say to someone…You need to accept Jesus as your personal Savior. I know what people mean when they say that and it’s well intentioned, I don’t question that. But such words, frankly, are really inadequate to instruct a sinner in the way of salvation. You need to accept Jesus as your personal Savior as if you were sitting in the seat of sovereignty and you were going to give Jesus the privilege of being accepted by you. You hear people say, “Well, you need to make a decision for Christ,” as if the salvation decision was yours and not His. See, those kinds of statements subtly change the focus of the gospel, and they change it subtly away from repentance. What the sinner needs to do is not accept Jesus Christ or make a decision for Christ, but to repent and cry out and ask Jesus Christ to accept him in spite of his sin. He asks Christ if He would make a decision to forgive him. It’s not your decision for Christ, it’s His decision for you that matters. John says if the repentance is real it will show up in your conduct…it will show up in your behavior. It will show up in your attitudes. It will show up in your actions. Let’s see the fruit – MacArthur
3.    Confession by itself is not repentance. Confession moves the lips; repentance moves the heart. Naming an act as evil before God is not the same as leaving it. Though your confession may be honest and emotional, it is not enough unless it expresses a true change of heart. You could only be doing this to ease your conscience, not because you have sinned against God
V.    What are false signs of repentance, or substitutes for true repentance?
1.    Actions may undergo change while the heart remains unchanged. You can reform your actions without having repented in the heart. Cf. the Pharisees
2.    Fear of punishment. If an unregenerate man should leave off sin under fear of death or hell, it would not be out of hatred of sin, but out of the fear of the punishment, as the bird is kept from the bait by the scarecrow.” THERE ARE MANY who want to be saved from the consequences of their sin, but do not want to be saved from the love of it. You will sin again as soon as the ‘painful’ consequences are removed. Repentance involves a sorrow for the offense rather than the punishment. It sorrows over the fact that it has sinned against the love and righteousness of God.
3.    Penance – has for its object of trust its own duties and reforms.  Therefore it is preoccupied with self. Penance has a kind of sorrow.  Paul refers to it as “the sorrow of the world,” (2 Corinthians 7:10).  Worldly sorrow is self-centered.  Godly sorrow is centered in God and His immutable holiness.  The truly repentant are afflicted by reason of their sin and its offense to God.  Not only are they broken over particular deeds of sin, but also over the very nature that produces it.
4.    Partial blame shifting – the true penitent takes all the blame for his sin, and then looks to Christ.  He resolves to leave off all sin and he expects to find mercy.  He condemns himself, vindicates God, and looks in reliance upon free grace.
5.    Loving God only because of His love. – True repentance will incite the heart to love God’s holiness. True repentance is accompanied by a sight of the beauty of God’s holiness and the desirability of the life of holiness
6.    Having an emotional experience – People talk all the time about feeling God/experiencing God. You know how you know you’ve experienced God? It’s when there’s a turning. It’s when there’s a rejection of sin and there’s a pursuit of righteousness that there is evidence of the real working of God.
7.    Feeling bad over sin – cf. Judas. There is a worldly sorrow and then there is a godly sorrow that leads to an actual turning away from sin.  You can have the strong emotions for it but not have repented in the heart. 2 Corinthians 7: 10 “worldly sorrow”
8.    Some falsely repent for temporal gains. “Cf. the parable of the seeds. Some received the word with joy (the benefit) but later the cares of the world (difficulties) choked it out.” Some sorrow only enough to ‘obligate God to forgive them.’ They feel because they have said the right words (confession) that God’s wrath now must be removed from them. They have not had a true change of heart; they have convinced themselves that God has changed towards them though!
9.    You can talk against sin in public but embrace it in private/privacy of your heart. Matt 23:1-3
VI.    Why won’t people repent?
1.    It is a hard work that takes the whole person.
2.    Men rather take sin/pleasures rather than Christ and His joy. Such is the nature of the heart.
3.    They don’t think they really need it.
4.    They think they have time to delay their duty.
5.    Presumption on God’s mercy. Many think God is merciful so as to overlook their sin, but God is merciful so that He may be feared and sin may be shunned.
6.    False idea that repentance will take away our joy. Remember all sin leads to death, separation, isolation, deformation. Righteousness leads to the very joy that God Himself has!! “The most blessed (happy) God.”! 1 Timothy 1:11
7.    Loss of hope – it’s too great of a task to repent or my sins are too many. God will not forgive me for what I have done. “The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness to ALL who call upon Him.” You are part of “ALL.” Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.”  Isaiah 55:7  “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,” Romans 5:20
8.    Fear of what others will think “The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.” Proverbs 29:25
VII.    Where does repentance come from? How does it come to us?
1.    Through the word of God
2.     By the Holy Spirit
3.    Together, when the word is proclaimed to others by Spirit-filled people. Our God will not work apart from His word. God has chosen to grant repentance through the preaching of the gospel…this is why it is so crucial that you listen tonight….God is speaking to you all about your need to repent so that you can have Him as your inheritance….if you won’t listen to me, you wouldn’t listen to Jesus if He came back from the dead. cf. Luke 16 “Lazarus in hell…”    cf. the results of the word preached – Acts 2:38/ Jonah 3 – Ninevah repented at Jonah’s preaching / 1 Thessalonians 1:5,6  “People turned from serving idols to serving the living God” after Paul preached there.
4.    it is a divine gift Acts 5:31 “He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. “  Acts 15:18 “Then they glorified God, saying, “So God has granted repentance resulting in life to even the Gentiles!” 2 Tim. 2:25 “with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,”    So repentance is a gift of grace, that leads to action on our part…
VIII.    Why repent?
1.    For the glory of God. He is shown to be more desired than sin. His name is jealous, He will not share His glory with another.
2.    He commands it.
3.    To magnify the person of Christ.
1)    He died to abolish sin. Repentance takes us away from sin to God.
2)    He purchased our repentance by His blood.
3)    He deals out repentance as Mediator.
4.    No man shall see God who has not repented. Illustration – At a funeral we weep be/c we have lost a loved family member, friend, close associate. In failing to repent, we have lost God…forever. How much should we plead with God to be merciful to us over our sin!
5.    Repentance is the only way to flee from the wrath of God. It is the only way God will be merciful to the sinner. It is acknowledging the sin, hating the sin, changing your mind/hear/will about the sin, and turning to God in faith in Jesus Christ as your only hope. The change is radical, both inwardly and outwardly; mind and judgment, will and affections (desires and emotions), behavior and life-style, motives and purposes, everything is involved.
6.    Because we are transgressors and have deliberately sinned against God. The human nature dislikes God, not because He is good, but because He is holy.
7.    So that “I will be your God, and you will be my people.”
IX.    How can I repent?
1.    Study with seriousness the word of God and listen intently to the preaching to have your heart prepared by God. Only God can prepare your heart.
2.    Seek to learn more about who God is. “”I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:5, 6
3.    Learn the serious nature of sin. Give serious consideration to the truths of scripture about how God views your sin.
4.    Sincerely pray to God to give you the ability to repent. Pray that God will give you a soft heart.
5.    Let the hardships of life that come from God drive you to Him. They are meant to chase you away from worldly hopes into the loving arms of the faithful and good Savior.
6.    Consider the mercies of God in Christ. “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” Romans 2:4 Just think now how good God is to you. Yet you say, you don’t know my situation. I don’t know it all. I do know this, that right now all though you deserve to be in hell, you are here enjoying time with friends, someone one loves you enough to share God’s truth with you. Are you not breathing air, having a heart beat. One breath, one beat away from eternity. Think about that.
X.    How do I know if I have repented? Or, what are the fruits of repentance? What will show up in my life?
1.    First, the fruits of true Biblical repentance will be seen in our lives in A REAL HATRED FOR SIN AS SIN, and not merely for its consequences, which are: the wrath of God poured out upon every soul which dies outside of Christ, and a separation from God in hell forever. Ezek. 20:43: “You shall despise yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that you have committed.” You see, the change of mind in which God requires, the change of mind which God is pleased with, is a real hatred for sin as sin against God.
2.    Second, the fruits of true Biblical repentance will be seen in A DEEP SORROW FOR SIN. II Corinthians 7:9-10 reads, “Ye sorrowed to repentance: for you were made sorry after a godly manner… for GODLY SORROW works repentance to salvation.” You sorrow because you have not placed your joy in the living, most blessed (happy) Christ.
3.    Third, the fruits of true Biblical repentance will be seen in A CONFESSING OF SIN. Proverbs 28:13, “He that covers his sins shall not prosper: but whoever confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy.”
4.    Fourth, the fruits of true Biblical repentance will be seen in AN ACTUAL TURNING FROM SIN. Proverbs 28:13, “He that covers his sins shall not prosper: but whoever confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy.”
5.    Fifth, the fruits of true Biblical repentance will be seen in A DESIRE TO LIVE A LIFE OF BIBLICAL RIGHTEOUSNESS. Hebrews 12:14, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” Obedience is the crown and perfection of repentance. Obedience will result from repentance, but remember a mere outward change without an inward heart change is not repentance.
6.    Sixth, the fruits of true Biblical repentance will be shown in REAL FAITH IN CHRIST. True Biblical repentance cannot be separated from true saving faith; the two always go together. Repentance and faith are bound together; two sides of the same coin.
XI.    Objections:
1.    I can’t repent – God commands that you seek Him with all your heart. Have you done that, or have you played church/religion and only sought God with half a heart?
2.    “I don’t want to right now./I do not have a desire to repent” Delaying will only result in more hardening of your heart. You are idolizing your feelings over the direct command of God. Do you know you are to repent? Then you are to be obey despite what your feelings say.
3.    God will not accept me for what I have done.
4.    I already have. Just make sure you are not deluding yourself. Scripture tells us to “make our calling and election sure.”
XII.    Warnings:
1.    Waiting to repent – Only one scriptural example, but only one. Only one so that none would despair, but only one that none should delay. “Today if you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” Because if you don’t listen today by repenting, you harden your hearts for eternal destruction.  Illustration: What if you were bitten by a rattlesnake? How long would you wait before you ‘turned away from” the snake and ‘turned to’ go see the doctor? Sin is a poison. It’s end result too is death. “For the payment for sin is death.” Romans 6:23
2.    Some will only take repentance and salvation half seriously. Some of you here tonight don’t want to hear because you’re thinking. “I’d rather be shooting ball, or trying to talk to those girls/boys from the other churches.” Cf. Jesus’ warning –“ if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; For it would be better for you to enter eternal life lame, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” Illustration – Did you know animals do not feel shame? Are we more like animals when we do not feel shame over our sin than men/women made in the image of God? What a warning this should be to us!
3.    Not being diligent in seeking the Lord while He may be found. Flee from the wrath to come. “God now commands all men everywhere to repent.” “Today is the day of salvation.” “Guard your hearts with all diligence for out of it flow the issues of life.” Time will work against you as far as having a heart that is sensitive to God’s word. You must prepare your hearts now, make the ground ready to receive the seed (word of God).– Illustration – my uncle “I was under conviction at one time, but that left.” He died as far as I know without his joy in Christ.– Illustration – Old man Henry at the dialysis center. “Died without his hope in Christ.” Sin over time had deceived him that it was too late/not fair for him to trust Christ. He spurned God’s grace.
4.    If there is only a partial change of mind, repentance will fail —cf Judas- he was sorry, was ashamed of his sin, returned the money, but hanged himself…didn’t ultimately plead for the mercy of Christ. Remember Lot’s wife.
5.    Beware of idolizing repentance – it is a qualification (that is, salvation will not happen without it), but not a cause of salvation. We are saved totally by grace alone. Repentance does not earn God’s favor nor does faith. Both are gifts from God. He is only satisfied by the blood of Christ. To trust our repentance is to make it our savior. Many do the same with their faith. They have faith in their faith in God. Therefore do not idolize repentance. Do not rest upon the fact that your heart has been wounded because of your sin, but rest upon the fact that Christ, the Lord of Glory, your Savior, has been wounded for you sin.  Be like Paul, “I determined to know nothing among except Christ and Him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2
6.    Consider how much you will have to answer for if you do not repent. “And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.” Luke 12:47,48
XIII.    Encouragements:
1.    Repentance is never complete in this lifetime.
2.    God will reward those who diligently seek Him.
3.    God is your reward for turning from your sin.
4.    God convicts you of sin, not just to make you feel bad for feel bad’s sake, but to free you from sin and give you a life of eternal joy in Him. God wounds only to heal. Cf. Surgeon in surgery who cuts to remove a fatal disease.
5.    Believe God with all your heart that He wants you to know Him. All this is not to delude or trick you. God wants your best, which is for you to have Him for all eternity!
XIV.    Conclusion:
Realize your nature is not able to repent nor does it desire to…you must plead with God to be merciful to you to grant you repentance unto life. It’s not ‘will you accept jesus, but will Jesus accept you.” The answer is ‘Yes, He will accept you if you repent.’ And for that, you need to ask God to be merciful to you in Christ Jesus and in what he has done on the cross.
God saves you from your sin, not in it. If you are still in it, then you have never truly repented.   Repentance is the heart’s acknowledgment of the justice of God’s sentence of condemnation; faith is the heart’s glad acceptance of the grace and mercy which are extended to us through Christ. Repentance is a gift of God (Acts 11:19; 2 Tim. 2:25) and a duty of man (Acts 17:30; Lk. 13:3). You will know if it has been granted by the practice/exercise of it. (Phil. 2:12-13) Do not wait for it; run toward it. “Be zealous and repent.” (Rev. 3:19) Pursue it and you will find it; forget it and perish. “Oh for a heart to praise my God, A heart from sin set free; A heart that always feels Thy blood so freely shed for me. “ – Charles Wesley.  Is this true of you? If not, you have not repented and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Illustration of false repentance and of ‘deluding ourselves.” There is an Islamic extremist who has caused great harm to the U.S. We have captured him. Found out he was a former US soldier. He had been fighting for Al-Quaeda for several years, giving away US top secrets, trying to overthrow US authority, and fighting against the US cause. During his trial, he pleads for mercy from the court not to be punished for his crimes. He is sorry he got caught. What is missing about his testimony? 1) no regret over betraying his Sovereign state, the US. 2) no desire expressed to change any future actions 3) only sorry over the penalty he has to pay, not remorseful or willing to change his heart about working with or staying in Al-Quaeda friendly places.

Illustration between true and false repentance – How many have ever done anything wrong your parents told you not to do? Did you ever feel bad after your parents caught you in the wrong? Yeah, because you knew you were about to get punished for what you did. You begged, pleaded for them to ‘go easy’ on you while you have to walk outside and get your own switch they are going to ‘light’ you up with. You promise never to do it again. You promise that if you are spared your punishment you will not ever do it again. And you may not ever do it again. Or, did you ever do anything wrong and as soon as you did it, you were sorry over it because you knew you had dishonored your parents, you knew it would grieve their heart, and you knew it would break their hearts that you did it. The first example is false repentance, the second is more in line with true repentance.

Resources used:
Lloyd-Jones, Martyn. God the Holy Spirit.
Pink, A.W. Repentance.
Watson, Thomas. The Doctrine of Repentance.

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