Is repentance just saying ďIím sorry?Ē I know many believe this to be the case. However, there is a difference in telling God that you are sorry, and true repentance.
My husband works with a gentleman that professes himself a Christian. This man bows his head over lunch in front of his co-workers, removes his ball-cap and says his grace. He also shepherds a small flock and is called on regularly to preach funerals. This same man is also the first individual to cheat anyone in a business transaction, look at pornography on a regular basis, use filthy language and make a glutton out of himself.
He told my husband once that he prayed and asked for forgiveness for his sins. Asking forgiveness, however, without truly repenting of them is not the same. You donít ask God to forgive you of a sin, just to turn around the next day and commit the same sin over and over again, on a regular basis. God doesnít honor lip service. This man has done more to turn people away from Christ, than to Him. True repentance is to stop doing what you are doing. To turn from your sin, and to keep turning.
An oil tanker cruises along at a pretty slow speed. However, to turn that ship, the captain must have one mile of free space in order to safely navigate the change of direction. Once into that turn, the captain must keep the same degree of bearing, in order for it not to drift. It needs that much space to navigate the turn safely without tipping over, due to its weight.
We, as Christians, should be like that oil tanker. Once we begin that turn, once we are saved, our life should be a slow turning away from the sins of the world, and we must constantly follow that course, in order not to capsize. The turn must be 180 degrees in order to be a true course of repentance, and it must be something that is committed to on a daily basis for the rest of our lives.
In Acts Chapter 3, vs. 12-26, Peter is speaking to the crowd that had gathered around the temple, after he and John had healed a lame man in the name of Jesus. The crowd had seen the dynamic presence of God revealed, and were marveling in wonder and amazement. Peter spoke up and asked why they marveled, for it was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, and His Servant Jesus whom they had denied, and killed out of ignorance that had healed the man.
In vs. 19, Peter told them ďRepent therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.Ē
If you are committed to a life or repentance, seasons of refreshing will come in the Lord, that will sustain you through trials and tribulations. Many times as Christians, we go through difficult periods in our walks, and it may even sometimes feel as if God has left us. We may get tired and discouraged, and wonder at the tribulations that we are living through, questioning if they will indeed ever end. However, if you are truly seeking God, and are open to His instruction and the challenges that He will place upon your life, and are committed to repenting when He reveals something that is not pleasing to Him, seasons of refreshing will come, and you will be set up for a victory.
One must drop their defenses, where the Holy Spirit can freely move. If you are offended by something that the Lord reveals to you in His Word, you are in a dangerous place, and better examine your heart. Conviction happens for us to repent of our sins, and to turn away from them. Letís look at two very different responses to a message of repentance.
In Acts Chapter 2, vs. 37, Peter spoke to the crowd on the day of Pentecost about repentance. He spoke to them about the crucifixion of Jesus, and the people were cut to the heart. They cried out, asking ďWhat shall we do?Ē Peter told them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of their sins, and they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Here we see that the peopleís hearts were moved, and they wanted to make things right with God, they were cut to their hearts over the realization that they had been responsible for the crucifixion of Godís son. They cried out, asking what they could do, to turn away from their sins, and Peter told them to repent and they did so, gladly receiving his words.
In Acts 7: 54-57, however, we see Stephen preaching to a crowd, and telling them that they had betrayed Jesus, and murdered Him. When He called upon them to repent, they also were cut to the heart, but they covered their ears, gnashed their teeth, and cried out at him. Of one accord, they ran at him, cast him out of the city and stoned him to death.
In both circumstances, the people listening to the message of repentance were cut to the heart. However, we see that it is the reaction to the message that counts. The first group was truly repentant and turned from their sins. The second group, however, reacted like little children, putting their hands over their ears, to stop the message from penetrating. Instead of repenting, they killed the messenger, instead.
Repentance must involve a constant examination of our heart. We must regularly consider our ways and whether the things in our life are pleasing to the Lord. This must involve both our outward and inward person. We must make sure that both are in line with Godís word. If we have sins of the flesh, and repent of those, and yet still harbor bitterness, anger, or unforgiveness in our hearts, we are in danger of capsizing.
We must understand that a time of refreshing will come for us if we have a constant expectancy of Godís blessings, and live our lives fully committed to the continual turning away from sin. A change of heart through rebirth and an obedient walk of faith are the real signs of a true relationship with God.
Today, and everyday, take the time to examine your life through Godís eyes. Ask Him to reveal things to you that are not pleasing in His sight, and then commit yourself to making a change. Remember that true repentance involves a 180 degree turn, and must be something that is followed through. Turn from your sin, and keep turning.
Wonderful! I particularly liked your point about the difference between repentance and merely "asking forgiveness." I enjoy your writing so much!
03 Feb 2003
Your comments: "My husband works with a gentleman that professes himself a Christian. This man bows his head over lunch in front of his co-workers, removes his ball-cap and says his grace. He also shepherds a small flock and is called on regularly to preach funerals. This same man is also the first individual to cheat anyone in a business transaction, look at pornography on a regular basis, use filthy language and make a glutton out of himself."
This spoke to me because I can think that *I* am right with God and yet judge another human being. Your article was a good reminder that even when we write, judgement calls on another human being - calling what they do or not do - that is sin. God says that even this kind of writing is against His Ways and I have been guilty of this!