MORE THOUGHTS on an EVENT …that REVERSES YOUR COURSE in LIFE…
I wrote on this around the first of the year. I called it Part One, as I wanted to write a few more things about… repentance… So I will, and call it Part Two.
Before I go on further however, I just want to review a couple of things.
First of all, I want to give a definition of repentance again. Some may like a different rendering, but this is fairly satisfactory to me. It goes like this:
Repentance is the activity of reviewing one’s actions and feeling contrition or regret for past wrongs. It generally involves a commitment to personal change and resolving to live a more responsible and humane life.
The only things about this definition of repentance that is lacking is “amending your life in such a manner in which past faults no longer overtake you,” and if they do, “seeking repentance to have a complete change of thought and attitude towards such a fault”; and, “providing restitution to those you have wronged” such as returning of goods or doing good, or perhaps a financial restitution of your wrongs.In the Gospels, the publican Zacchaeus, portrayed this.
The other point that I wish to review and make is this:
Repentance can be true or false.
There is a true repentance and there is a false repentance.
The Bible states and implies the same. It talks about a repentance “that needs not to be repented of.”
This is curious language.
…It means that it is a change that is truly a change…
The Apostle Paul wrote about this based on observations of his practical experience and the testimony of the then known scriptures, most of which, we would call the record of the Old Testament.
Paul stated that there was a repentance that was based on godly sorrow. This is a genuine repentance. He also stated that there was also a repentance that was not genuine. It is based on worldly sorrow.
Hmmm…. godly sorrow versus worldly sorrow. What does all this mean?
I think that it deals with how that we look at the nature and actions of sin.
Of course, the idea of “sin,” nowadays is considered antiquated, outmoded, and rustic, if not ignorant and barbaric, by much of the world and their sophistry of thinking.
Yet, human nature consistently demonstrates such flaws and gross inequities and glaring faults to the extent, that yes, such a concept of “sin” has to be considered; No matter how sophisticated and conceited the intellectuality of our day, such “elevated” thinkers cannot explain at all adequately, that something is seriously wrong with the human condition, …themselves included, if they are being honest…
Finally, after much verbiage and sundry denials, there is little to explain the gross failures of humans and their nature, but to consider that there is sin, and a nature to commit sin… all too easily.
Hence, repentance becomes an integral part of the human condition for those wishing to elevate themselves above the petty meanness and shallow, but unbelievably pervasive selfishness, that humankind possesses.
To get some perspective on this, the Bible has no peers.
It is the textbook on understanding the human condition, and its need for forgiveness, acceptance and approbation with a higher being or consciousness, with a practical relationship with this higher creativity.
In the Bible, this is known as God, or more properly, YHWH, or Yahweh, if we adopt the vowels that the Hebrew language usually can leave out.
God is not like us. We have to aspire to be like Him. One of the features of this aspiration is receiving the “gift” of repentance.
Godly sorrow is getting God’s mind on the nature of sin. When we do, we will never look quite the same toward the nature and actions of sin again. We can learn to be appalled at sin. It truly is death.
Worldly sorrow is keeping our mind about sin. We are forced, it seems, to give sin up. Sin is like an old pair of shoes that can fit so comfortably, as long we think that we are in control. We learn to love sin; we don’t see how bad it can be. We can be ever so comfortable with many workings of sin particularly if we can practice a “morality:” which ends up as a kind of penance, if we should “sin” too much.
Worldly sorrow, or false repentance, is also based on human selfishness.
You see much of this in the popular church. They have, on many occasions in proselyting converts, relied on fear, such as: the burning fires of an eternal hell; everlasting torments not exactly specified; using an overwhelming guilt factor; portraying God as a sort of eternal sadist to be pacified; or missing out with loved ones and family members.
Hence, to avoid such punishments, we “repent” to avoid such perils. This is really about selfishness. We are trying to save ourselves. We want to be on the “winning” team.
Here is an example, however, of “true” repentance:
We see Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus Road. He has arrest warrants for the Messianic Jewish believers in Damascus. He is going to haul a bunch of them back to Jerusalem for their respective punishments, which include: banishment, confiscation of goods, and even death. Saul had already been quite successful in doing this in Jerusalem, where he was “making havoc of the church, entering into every house, apprehending men and women of this ‘Way’ and delivering them to incarceration… uttering intimidating threats and persecuting those of this ‘Way’ by death and violence against those disciples of the Lord.”
Then, along the Damascus Road as he was making his journey, the chief inquisitor Saul has a revelation about his mission, and more importantly, himself.
Saul sees a great light. He is not only the one. Saul is not crazy, as all the others in his party see the light also. It is about noon, and the sun is highest and brightest at that time, but yet, there is another light that outshines the sun…!
His entourage is terrified at this light. They didn’t say a word as they were frozen with terror.
Then a voice in the Light speaks to Saul.
It is Jesus of Nazareth.
Jesus rebukes Saul tenderly, “Saul, why do you persecute me?”
When Saul finds out that it is Jesus that is speaking to him, well, it is an unbelievable revelation of Christ.
Here is the deal about this.
Saul is not worried about having “skin in the game.” Saul is not afraid of going to hell. He is not afraid of being burned forever in its fires. He is not afraid of some God-Sadist who wishes to turn him on a roasting spit forever.
Nope, that is not Saul’s motivation for turning to God. Fear is not his motivation for “washing away his sins, and calling upon the Name of the Lord.”
No, Saul wants to “amend” his conduct. He wants to undo …who and what he is…
Saul has been grossly deceived about his role. Saul thought that he was a hero to the religious Establishment in Jerusalem. Saul thought that he was doing God’s purpose in his fanatical zeal. Now, he knows that he is the “opposite” of what Jesus wants him to be. Saul now really hates who he was. So much so, that he undergoes not only a character change, but a name change as well.
Saul becomes Paul.
Here is an interesting study.
He went from Saul, which means “asked for” by God, to Paul.
Paul means “little” or, “small.”
Saul was a big man. He was doing a big job. But he was working for the wrong people.
He became Paul. He became “little” with God. But, before all that was over, he became great as he was a “chosen vessel to me, who will bear my Name or authority, before the Gentiles, and Kings, and rulers, and the children of Israel.”
This is what happens when you meet Jesus.
This is what SHOULD happen when you meet or have a revelation of Jesus Christ.
You don’t want to be Saul… the big man from Jerusalem.
You want to be opposite.
You want to be the little man in Jesus’ eyes.
You don’t want approbation from man. You want approval from God.
If this is your motivation for serving God, then you have a genuine repentance.
If you just want to have a comfort level with your sins… well, you have a false repentance.
Repentance based on godly sorrow does not engage in fear or selfishness. We want to please God, like Paul. We see that sin is very harmful and toxic to our relationship with God. We need to, at best, minimize it or even eliminate it with its desires, to be in a fuller companionship with God.
We have great sorrow that anything should interrupt or interfere with our relationship with the Heavenly Father.
Paul never forgot who he had been.
It was a great shame to him.
Indeed, Paul called himself the “chief of sinners.”
Paul described himself in his former life as a …”blasphemer, a persecutor, who caused many injuries”….
Paul never went back to those faults.
He became someone who “the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me to his heavenly kingdom…”
Indulge me while I review what happened to Paul.
He was no more a blasphemer.
He was no more a persecutor.
He caused no more, any injuries, force, or violence upon anyone.
Paul became the opposite of what he was.
This means then, if any man was a thief and stole, then “let him that stole, steal no more.”
If any was a liar, or who loves to make a lie, to “put away lying.”
Or, if a man was a drunkard, or in modern terms, an alcoholic, let him “drink no more.”
Or, if a man who was manipulative, pathological, and deceitful in his dealings with others… then, let him “be no more.”
Or, if a person be given over to sexual excess such as fornications or adulteries, then let him, or her, do such things “no more.”
If such persons are not liars, thieves, alcoholics, sexually wayward or sexually deviate, or pathological personalities any more when they might have been formerly while “in their sins,” then they have practiced a genuine repentance.
They have no desire to do such things anymore.
They hate what they were. They hate the sin that degraded them to less than what they should be… in harmony with God.
Here is the deal with sinners who have redemption: THEY REALLY HATE THEIR SINS. They don’t live like that anymore. They don’t want to be like that anymore. They don’t want to be that kind of person.
Here is the painful part of this topic.
If people still persist in such practices while claiming to be Christians such as: lying, cheating, stealing, drinking to drunkenness or a state of inebriation, deceit, sexual excess, and pathological personality impulses… then they have never really had a true repentance.
You see, genuine repentance changes people.
False repentance tries to cover up their sins.
These people need a repentance that comes from God.
Repentance that comes from their own fears or selfish motivations is not enough.
I gave the example of Esau in the first part of this subject.
Esau had his own repentance. God rejected it. God never did grant Esau any kind of repentance, although Esau showed remorse, guilt, and emotional heartbreak. You can jump through hoops, do back flips, somersaults, and bend over backwards to touch your heels, but if God doesn’t grant you repentance… it is all of no avail.
When Peter went before the hierarchy of the church at Jerusalem, he recounted how that God dealt with him to preach Christ to the Gentiles at the house of Cornelius. After Peter eloquently did so, the Elders held their peace, and glorified God,… saying…
“Then God has also granted repentance to the Gentiles.”
In the 18th century, there were two men who were used greatly of God. They were both Methodists. One, was George Whitefield. He was known in England and in America. The other was not as well heard of: he never left his native land of Wales, which is a part of England. His name was Daniel Rowland.
They both believed alike.
They both taught on the subject of repentance, that it was “God’s gift.”
You see, repentance unto life cannot depend on man. It is a gift from God. This gift must be sought from God. You cannot repent when you choose.
This is exactly what Whitefield and Rowland taught.
“Think not… you can be a devil today and a Saint tomorrow! You cannot repent when you choose. Therefore, the TIME IS NOW! Because it is God’s great Gift.”
This is exactly what John the Baptist taught. John taught that repentance comes from God. Everyone that believed on Christ, came the way of John the Baptist, practically. Indeed, even those who came into the Christian “way” much later among the Jewish dispersion, such as Apollos (Acts 18:25b), and the twelve disciples that Paul met in Ephesus(Acts 19:1-7) “knew” of the teachings and baptism “unto repentance” of John.
Do you have this repentance that never needs to be changed from?
Do you have a repentance that has changed your life to the extent that you are not the same person as you were?
Do you have a repentance in which you hate your former life and are ashamed of it and the level of selfishness that you had?
If not, there still may be time…
You need to seek the repentance that comes from God.
Then, when you get this, you will receive the revelation that you need to live by faith in Christ.
May God truly help you to get to this place of freedom. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from being who you were. Freedom to be what God has intended for you to be: free from sin. Free to practice the gift that comes from God: repentance.
Thanks for reading.
Copyrighted. Joseph Spickard, 2015. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this intellectual property without prior permission from the author is prohibited.