Foundations of the Faith – Part Four

Repentance is not just an emotional response. 

It can be emotional but is not always so. It means people have heard God’s Word and discovered that their thinking has been contrary to His Word. When they decide to change their thinking to conform to God’s thinking, they have repented. When they find God’s revealed truth on any subject, they repent and change their minds to conform to God’s mind.

Luke 7:29 “When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John.”

John 3:33 “Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true.”

2 Thessalonians 1:5 “This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering…”

It is a radical change of mind, away from sin and self and toward God.

Repentance is not just the conviction of sin.

Godly sorrow precedes repentance.The Holy Spirit caused listeners in Jerusalem to be “cut to the heart.”

Acts 2:37 “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

They were convicted of their sin but had not yet repented. People may be in a worship service, in the presence of the Lord, and their hearts are pricked (convicted). They realize their sinfulness before a holy God and may even find a way to express that feeling. But if they walk out without changing their thinking and the direction of their lives and continue to do whatever the Lord has convicted them of, they certainly did not repent. False repentance is a self-centered sorrow over the consequences of sin. Sorry that they got caught.

Repentance is not just reformation.

Repentance involves reformation because a truly repentant person will turn around and start over in demonstrable ways. However, if God is not involved in the reformation, and if reformation is not based on the work of the Cross, then it is not repentance and ultimately it will fail. The determination to do better, “turning over a new leaf,” and self-help programs do not constitute repentance. 

Repentance is not just being religious.

Many people think they must act religious if they repent, so they learn religious jargon, a religious pose, and a religious tone of voice. Anyone can go through the motions, attend a dynamic local church, learn praise choruses, raise his or her hands, shout “Hallelujah,” and still not repent. 

Repentance is not “only believes.”

Repentance is more than a new metal attitude. It is more than accepting the truth about Jesus and His Kingdom. True repentance always includes a transformation of the entire life of the individual. It leads to observable changes in their life. John the Baptist expected to see evidence of repentance. He said:

Luke 3:8,11, 13-14 “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham … And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise … And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”

Repentance focuses on the root of sin — the attitude behind the sin — and not on a specific sin. The repentant person must focus on the condition of his heart before a holy God. He must be more than sorry for the rotten fruit in his life — that he got drunk or committed fornication.

An unrepentant person is committed to going his own way and doing his own thing apart from God. Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9). Isaiah agrees: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, ever one, to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6).

True repentance is based on the recognition that man has sinned against God and has broken fellowship with Him.

Peter preached to law keepers on the Day of Pentecost. They were trying to follow the Mosaic Law and keep the Judaism of their day. But the root of their sin was the fact that they had rejected Jesus Christ. They devoted their lives to studying the Old Testament, but they rejected the One who fulfilled the Old Testament. When Peter preached the Gospel of the Kingdom to them, they realized they had sinned and were separated from God. It is no wonder they said, “What shall we do?”

True repentance recognizes human responsibility to turn from sin.

The Gospel must turn men and women from the sin of unbelief. After agreeing with the Gospel and trusting Christ for salvation, new believers must begin lives of simple obedience to The Living Word, Jesus, and the written Word, the Bible.