A Biblical Understanding Of ‘TRUE’ REPENTANCE

Does God Want To Hear You’re Sorry?

“JUST AT that time there [arrived] some people who informed JESUS about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.  [2] And He replied by saying to them,  Do you think that these Galileans were greater sinners than all the other Galileans because they have suffered in this way?  [3] I tell you, No; but unless you REPENT (change your mind for the better and heartily amend your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins), you will all likewise perish and be lost eternally.  [4] Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam felled and killed them–do you think that they were more guilty offenders (debtors) than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem?  [5] I tell you, No; but unless you REPENT, you will all likewise perish and be lost eternally”  (Luke 13:1-5 AMP).

JESUS’ PROMISE:

When READING the above verses in Luke, I want you to notice ‘The Promise’: “…but unless you REPENT, you will ALL likewise perish and be lost eternally.”  That’s a pretty strong statement in my opinion and saying “I’m so sorry” is a beginning but that  isn’t what Jesus wants to hear.  JESUS is saying here, ‘You MUST REPENT in order to be saved, and if you don’t…, you won’t be saved.’  When JESUS makes a PROMISE like that, it’s important that we understand what JESUS means to REPENT.

AN OLD TESTAMENT LOOK–Judges Chapter 10:

Yes, I’m still ‘jogging through Judges’ and happen to stop at a water stop and was refreshed along the roadside in Chapter 10.  We find in the beginning verses that God had just punished the man that had killed Gideon’s sons and also the people who supported him.  You can also see, you can’t mess with God’s people and get away with it!

There were 2 kings that ruled in Israel at the time.  The Bible doesn’t tell us much about them.  Evidently, they weren’t THAT great or we would have probably heard more; they weren’t exactly terrible or God probably would have told us about that as well.

After those 2 kings died, the Israelites again turned their backs on God.  That brings me to the question, Have you or do you know of someone who hasn’t been in church or your bible study in ages?  Who perhaps has gone so far away from the TRUTH, they have turned their backs on anything representative of God?  I have and it is someone very close to me. Of course, that is my opinion and not theirs.

Now, not only did the Israelites turn their backs on God, they plunged whole-heartedly into following other gods.  VERSE 6 list 7 different gods served:

“And the Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord”

1.  They served the Baals,

2.  The Ashtaroth [female deities],

3.  The gods of Syria,

4.  The gods of Sidon,

5.  The gods of Moab,

6.  The gods of the Ammonites,

7.  The gods of the Philistines.

The people of God ran to the world, then rolled in the muck!  Isn’t it amazing how children seem attracted to the dirt and mud, no matter how many times we tell them not too?

Again, God got sick of it, and He sent two nations to punish them; the Philistines attacked from the west, the Ammonites from the east.  Things haven’t changed much today in Israel, just pick up the latest world news in the media.

Now notice the people’s RESPONSE to their current circumstances:  WHEN ALL WE DO IS REGRET- (verse 10):

“An the Israelites cried to the Lord, saying, We have sinned against You, because we have forsaken our God and have served Baals.”

REGRET touches our EMOTIONS but it may go deeper than that.  REGRET is REMORSE over the consequences of an act but that’s NOT–REPENTANCE.  If a person is convicted of a crime, you might hear the judge say, “Is there something you would like to say to the family you committed the crime against?”  You might hear him reply, “I’m sorry and I regret what I did!”  “Sorry” he got caught or he has he TRULY REPENTED; a changed direction in his life.

In Matthew 27:3, it says Judas REGRETTED what he had done, then went out and hung himself.  And in the book of Exodus, each time God sent a plague on Egypt, Pharaoh REGRETTED what was happening at the time but as soon as the plague was over he changed his mind once again.

GOD’S RESPONSE TO REGRET OR “I AM SORRY LORD” – (verses 13-14):

“I will deliver you no more.”  God isn’t some fairy god mother to be called just when we have a problem going on in our lives.  GOD IS GOD!  He will either be God of ALL, or He will NOT be your God at all!

When We Truly REPENT –

V15- CONFESSION: we have sinned.

V15- SUBMISSION: do to us whatever seems right to You.

V16- DESTRUCTION: got rid of their gods.

V16- CONSTRUCTION: and served the Lord.  They lived constructive lives; no longer just ‘lip service’; they were serving and obeying God.

James 1:21-22 says, “So get rid of ALL uncleanness and the rampant outgrowth of wickedness, and in a humble (gentle, modest) spirit receive and welcome the Word which implanted and rooted [in your hearts] contains the power to save your souls.  [22] BUT…be DOERS of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth.”  (AMPLIFIED version)

Matthew 3:1-2 says REPENT!

“IN THOSE days there appeared John the Baptist, preaching in the Wilderness (Desert) of Judea.  And saying, REPENT (think differently; change your mind, regretting your sins and changing your conduct), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

:7 – Pharisees, brood of vipers.

:8 – Bring forth FRUIT.

WHAT WAS GOD’S RESPONSE TO ‘TRUE’ REPENTANCE?–

“So they put away the foreign gods from among them and SERVED the LORD, and His HEART became impatient over the misery of Israel”  (Judges 10:16).

That is RELATIONSHIP–God gives, you respond.  You give, and God responds.

NEW TESTAMENT REPENTANCE IN THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW:

An immediate question arises and is obvious when you read verse 8 of Matthew 3:

“Bring forth FRUIT that is consistent with REPENTANCE [let your lives PROVE your change of heart].”

“What are the FRUITS OF REPENTANCE?”

Fortunately for us, this passage in Scripture points out FOUR of the FRUITS OF REPENTANCE.

REPENTANCE, of course, is one essential starting point in the christian journey.  We begin our walk with God admitting that we need Jesus’ sacrifice in expressing our sorrow for the sin in our lives.  And if we’ve had a GENUINE MOMENT of REPENTANCE, we should see the FRUITS of REPENTANCE displayed.

As I closely looked at the FRUITS, I was reminded of the harsh words of John the Baptist,  “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee and escape from the wrath and indignation [of God against disobedience] that is coming?”  (Matt. 3:7 AMP).

JESUS is talking to the Pharisees and Sadducees, the very religious, but also distant from God without true relationship.  Many of us can easily claim to be ‘very religious’.  But if we are not bearing the FRUITS of REPENTANCE, we too are distant from God.

LOOKING AT 4 FRUITS OF REPENTANCE IN THE LIGHT:

VERSE 9.  And do not presume to say to yourselves,  We have Abraham for our forefather; for I tell you, God is able to raise up descendants for Abraham from these stones!.”

Here we are reminded NOT TO RELY on our family history.  The religious leaders of the time were quick to point out their Jewish family history as proof of their closeness to God.

Today we see a similar response when you ask the question, “Are you a Christian?”  And they respond: “Oh, my family are ALL Methodists” or “Sure, my parents were Baptists!”  Our parents or our family cannot believe for us.  Each one of us must CHOOSE to believe ourselves.  This lead me to the FIRST FRUIT OF REPENTANCE:

1.  HUMILITY.

When we rely on our family history like the Pharisees and Sadducees, we act the ability to claim relationship with God without the need to personally come to a moment of REPENTANCE.  It creates a feeling of PRIDE rather than the HUMILITY that should be characterized in our relationship with Christ.

“My family has been coming to this church since 1964!”

“My father helped to build that education wing!”

“My mother lead the women’s prayer group for probably 20 years!”

Is your relationship with God characterized by HUMILITY, or are you lacking the FRUIT OF REPENTANCE?

VERSE 10.

“And already the ax is lying at the root of the trees.”

Often in our lives we feel the sins we commit are individually small enough that we excuse it; we haven’t committed an axe-murder or gone on a shooting spree.  After all, our sins are nothing major–just slip-ups aren’t they?

But this verse points us to a SECOND FRUIT OF REPENTANCE:  URGENCY.

2.  URGENCY.

When we come to a point of REPENTANCE, we realize our sins are NOT EXCUSABLE.  There isn’t such a thing as a “little sin.”  If that is what you are sometimes thinking, it’s a LIE, that the great LIAR, the devil is giving to you.

WITH REPENTANCE COMES AWARENESS:

The AWARENESS of the seriousness of our sins; the DESIRE that emerges from from our souls to get rid of this horrible problem right now!

THE FRUIT should continue to show up!  Realizing the SERIOUSNESS of sin in our lives–experience the JOY and RELIEF of God’s FORGIVENESS–recognizing the COST of our forgiveness of Jesus’ death on the cross–understanding our sin cost Jesus’ life.

We walk the journey of FAITH with constant desire to become more like Yeshua (JESUS); to rid ourselves of the remaining sin in our lives.  NOT SOMEDAY, but as soon as possible–because we recognize the URGENCY of the matter. That is AWARENESS!

VERSE 10b.

“…every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown in the fire.”

I have found in over 40 yrs of being a Christian, God is not all about “religion” but about “relationship”.  What am I getting at?  That means that every Christian should CLAIM of having a personal encounter (your testimony of conversion) with the most powerful being in the universe.  You would think, by CLAIMING this experience, they would walk away different people.  But sadly, folks that CLAIM to know Christ personally live unaltered lives.

We are reminded in the last part of VERSE 10, the THIRD FRUIT OF REPENTANCE:

3.  CHANGE.

The CHURCH in America has presumed that you can be a “Christian” with absolutely NO EVIDENCE in your life.  Henry Blackaby, author of Experiencing God noted, “there’s just as many abortions inside the churches today as outside the churches.

The Bible knows nothing of a FAITH that doesn’t lead to a CHANGED LIFE.  God’s Word was very straightforward in speaking to this issue:

“If a person [really] loves Me, he will keep My word [obey my teaching]; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.  Anyone who does not [really] love Me does not observe and obey My teaching.  And the teaching which you hear and heed is not Mine, but [comes] from the Father Who sent Me”  (John 14:23-24 AMP).

“What is the use (profit) my brethren, for anyone to profess to have FAITH if he has no [good] works [to show for it]?  Can [such] FAITH save [his soul]?”  “For as the human body apart from the spirit is lifeless, so FAITH apart from [its] works of obedience is also dead”  (James 2:14, 26 AMP).

An ESSENTIAL PART of TRUE REPENTANCE leads to a changed life.

VERSE 11.  “I indeed baptize (with) water because of REPENTANCE.  But He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy or fit to take off or carry; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”

There is a lot in this verse pointed out by John’s statement; that the One coming after him is “mightier than I.”  The act of REPENTANCE includes ADMITTING that you messed up and you tried to run things on your own and you failed!

THE FINAL FRUIT OF REPENTANCE IS “DEPENDANCE”:

Recognizing in our REPENTANCE that we’ve fallen short; we admit our shortcomings and PURSUE a changed life.  But if we’ve FAILED in the past, we need more strength than we possess to finish the race.

THE GOOD NEWS for those of us in that position is, we serve a mighty SAVIOR who provides ALL the resources we need for VICTORY in our journey.

AND THE KEY?  We must recognize our need to DEPEND on Him and TRUST in His strength and not ours.  Too many of us are trying to EXPERIENCE “Victory in Jesus” via our own power, smarts and insight.  WE WILL FAIL!

CONCLUDING THE BIBLICAL UNDERSTANDING WITH A QUESTION:

Ask yourself a simple question today:  can you see the FRUITS OF REPENTANCE in your life day-by-day, or are you standing with the Pharisees and Sadducees?

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