Repentance is at the core of Christian change. False repentance often hinders real holy living. True repentance provides the starting block for running the good race and sustaining the runner throughout that race.

  1. Introduction
    1. The normal Christian life is one of seeing sin, repentance, confession and moving forward in faith. This pattern is seen at the outset of our Christian life – we see our sin and inability to defeat it, repent our sin and confess them to God, asking Jesus to receive our confession and then step out in faith in the Christian life. It is also the ordinary path down which we travel towards holiness – seeing our sin and need for Jesus, repenting and confessing that need, fleeing to Jesus for safety and moving forward in faith knowing our sins are covered. Repentance is at the core of the Christian life. We will look at what is repentance, what is false repentance and where do we go from there?
    2. Jesus’ Ministry begins and ends with calls to repentance:
      1. The beginning of Jesus’ ministry:
        1. Matt 3:2 – John the Baptist calls for repentance because the “Kingdom of heaven is at hand”
        2. Jesus echoes John’s call in Matt 4:17: From that time Jesus began to preach, saying “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is near.
        3. Mark 1:14-15: Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
      2. The fulfillment of Jesus’ ministry:
        1. Rev 2:5 – Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
        2. Rev 2:16 – Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.
        3. Rev 2:21 – I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.
        4. Rev 3:3 – Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you
        5. Rev 3:19 – Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.
      3. The Apostles were real big on repentance, too:
        1. Acts 3:19-20 – Repent therefore, and turn again that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshment may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus.”
        2. Acts 17:30 -31 – The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people every to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this day he has given assurance to all by raising him [Jesus] from the dead.
  • Acts 26:19-20 – Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.
  1. Short outline of the sermon:
    1. Discussion of what repentance is and what it is not.
    2. Biblical examples of characters who have said “I have sinned”.
  • Consideration of the implications of repentance in the life of the believer
  1. Repentance – What it is and what it is not
    1. Literally “a change of mind”
    2. Definition:
      1. Repentance is a fundamental change in the hearts of men from sin and toward God. Repentance contains as essential elements (1) a genuine sorrow toward God on account of sin (II Cor.7:9,10; Matt 5:3,4; Ps 51). (2) An inward repugnance to sin necessarily followed by actual forsaking of it (Matt 3:8; Acts 26:20; Heb. 6:1). (3) Humble self-surrender to the will and service of God (Acts 9:6). Unger’s Bible Dictionary, Third Ed, 1966
      2. Conviction of sin is one of the most uncommon things that ever happens to a person. It is the beginning of an understanding of God. Jesus Christ said that when the Holy Spirit came He would convict people of sin (see John 16:8). And when the Holy Spirit stirs a person’s conscience and brings him into the presence of God, it is not that person’s relationship with others that bothers him but his relationship with God— “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight . . .” (Psalm 51:4). The wonders of conviction of sin, forgiveness, and holiness are so interwoven that it is only the forgiven person who is truly holy. My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers
  • 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. 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 scandalizes 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. Westminster Confession of Faith, Ch. 15.
  1. A turning from something towards the opposite. Note that each of the following examples require a turning from a previous life of sin to a life of godliness:
    1. John preached repentance before the appearance of Jesus: Matt 3:8, 11 & Mark 1:4.
    2. Jesus preached repentance as the preparation for the Kingdom of God: Matt. 4:17; Mark 1:15
  • Repentance was part of the consistent teaching of the Apostles: Acts 2:38, 3:19; 8:22; 17:30; & 26:20
  1. Repentance is the normal and expected attitude of the Christian. It should not be seen as something unusual and certainly not something frightening
    1. I John 1: 8 – 10: 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
  2. Repentance may be seen as proof of the Holy Spirit within. Only through the convicting work of the Holy Spirit can one repent (Zech 12: 10 – And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.)
  • True and False Repentance
    1. False Repentance – Penance
      1. Centers on what man does
        1. Man is proud and self-deceptive (Jer.17:9- The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?)
        2. “Give me one more day, a religious duty, another program, another set of human relationships, or a better education, and then things will be better.”
      2. Focuses on what man sees and feels within himself – “If I have done all I could do, why has God not done his part?” (Rom. 1: 21 – 23 – 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.)
  • Always leaves the sinner powerless and imprisoned
    1. Penance is founded on self-trust (“I can do enough!”)
    2. Penance stops with conviction of sin – conviction of sin by itself will save no one.
    3. Conviction of sin without turning to Christ has no value whatsoever.
  1. Ignores that Christ has paid the penalty for our sins or says that Christ’s work must be completed by what I do in response to my sin
  2. Focuses on what man sees and feels within himself – “If I have done all I could do, why has God not done his part?” (Rom. 1: 21 – 23)
  3. Seeks out a human priest rather than Christ – the penitent looks for a “guru” who has a way to stop sinning and be right with God
  1. False Repentance – Mere Sorrow for Having Done Wrong or Having Gotten Caught at It
    1. There is earthly sorrow that brings death and Godly sorrow that brings repentance (II Cor 7:10 – For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.)
    2. Earthly sorrow or mere sorrow revolves around temporal consequences such as embarrassment and material loss – it is man-centered.
  • Earthly sorrow usually leads to changed behavior to hide the events, not a repudiation of the behavior
  1. True Repentance
    1. The motivation for changing one’s mind and life-direction is the Lordship of the crucified Savior.
    2. All the great passages in Acts which deal with the imperative to repent are rooted in the exultation of the Lord. (Cf Acts 17: 30 – 31 – 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”) Paul warns the Athenians that they must repent because the resurrected Christ will judge the world.
  • All true repentance starts with a realization that the ultimate One offended is God – Psalm 51: 3-4 – 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
  1. Believers are called to repent – Matt 4:17: From that time Jesus began to preach, saying “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is near.
  2. A believing repentance means that the sinner has passed from darkness into the light of God’s Kingdom. The irrationality of life without Christ is supplanted by a new sanity. The sinner has “come to himself”. Luke 15:17 – But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!
  3. The sorrow of the sinner’s heart arises from conviction of sin which, being mixed with faith, brings the sinner back to God. In this the prodigal abandons the delusion that he or she can act as though he or she were the creator of the universe. Now that the sinner sees that he has no resources within himself, the sinner is free to turn to God for a solution to sin. II Cor 7: 9-11 – 9And now I rejoice, not because you were made sorrowful, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you felt the sorrow that God had intended, and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation without regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 11Consider what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what zeal, what vindication! In every way you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.
  1. Biblical Examples
    1. Exod 9:27 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron. “This time I have sinned,” he said to them. “The Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong.
    2. Exod 10:16 Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you.
    3. Num 22:34 Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.”
    4. Josh 7:20 Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done:
    5. 1 Sam 15:24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them.
    6. 1 Sam 15:30 Saul replied, “I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.”
    7. 1 Sam 26:21 Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Come back, David my son. Because you considered my life precious today, I will not try to harm you again. Surely I have acted like a fool and have been terribly wrong.”
    8. 2 Sam 12:13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.
    9. 2 Sam 19:20 For I your servant know that I have sinned, but today I have come here as the first from the tribes of Joseph to come down and meet my lord the king.
    10. 2 Sam 24:10 David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.”
    11. 2 Sam 24:17 When David saw the angel who was striking down the people, he said to the Lord, “I have sinned; I, the shepherd, have done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall on me and my family.
    12. 1 Chron 21:8 Then David said to God, “I have sinned greatly by doing this. Now, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.
    13. Job 7:20 If I have sinned, what have I done to you, you who sees everything we do? Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you?
    14. Job 33:27 And they will go to others and say, ‘I have sinned, I have perverted what is right, but I did not get what I deserved.
    15. Ps 41:4 I said, “Have mercy on me, Lord; heal me, for I have sinned against you.”
    16. Micah 7:9 Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the Lord’s wrath, until he pleads my case and upholds my cause. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness.
    17. Matt 27:4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”
    18. Luke 15:18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
    19. Luke 15:21The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
  2. Repentance is a gift of God – 2 Tim 2: 22 – 26: 22So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (ESV)
  3. We don’t know what we need to repent
    1. Sin is deceitful
    2. Sin runs deep and is layered
    3. The heart is wicked – Jer. 17:9
    4. We are blind to our need for grace
    5. How to help – Psalm 139: 20 & 24
  • How do we repent?
    1. Stay in the Word – II Tim 3:16 – 17 – 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of Godmay be complete, equipped for every good work.
    2. Prayer – I Thes 5:17 – pray without ceasing
    3. Gentle correction – Gal 6:1 -2 – 1Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
    4. Stay in Gospel community – James 5: 16 – Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
    5. Prayer
  • What does Matthew 3:38 (Bear fruit in keeping with repentance) and Acts 26:20 (19Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.) have to do with us as we consider what real repentance looks like?
    1. Real repentance is a response to God’s love: Rom 2:4 – Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
    2. Real repentance always results in real change – no change + no repentance.
    3. Real repentance always thrusts us into outward mission or ministry: James 2:22 – You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works
      1. Mercy received results in mercy extended: Luke 7:47 – Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.