Repentance - What is it All About?
A beautiful example of godly repentance is shown in Luke 7:36-50, where the woman “began to wash His (the Lord Jesus) feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed His feet, and annointed them,” after which the Lord said, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much.”
Every touch of cleansing a soul ever receives from God is preceded by repentance, for no one is even going to desire to be cleansed of his sin, if he has not repented with “godly sorrow.” Therefore. “humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.” James 4:10. Job said, “I abhor myself, and repent.” Job 42:6. The person who repents as David did, who said to the Lord, ‘’Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight,” will loathe himself, and have a deep hatred for his sin, longing to be free of it, as did David, who said, “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.” Psalm 51:4,10,7,17.
There are two kinds of repentance, a ‘’godly sorrow,’’ and a worldly sorrow, “for godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation – but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” II Corinthians 7:10. The sorrow of the world is a selfish sorrow for the suffering consequences of sin, “for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Galatians 6:7, but “godly sorrow” is a sorrow for sinning against the Holy God who gave us life, and sent His Beloved Son to “bare our sins in His own body on the tree.” I Peter 2:24. “The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance.” Romans 2:4, and godly repentance will produce faith to believe God when He says, “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” I John 1:7. This is not a mental belief, for “the devils also believe, and tremble.” James 2:19. It is a change of heart, “for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.” Romans 10:10.
Christ said, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3. God says, “…by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God…” Ephesians 2:8. We are saved by grace, the unmerited, undeserved favor of God, which He extends to the repentant sinner, only, when he obeys Christ’s command, “Repent ye, and believe the Gospel.” Mark 1:15. The martyr, Dietrich Bonhoffer, said, “The trouble with the church is that it is merchandising a cheap kind of grace, forgiveness without repentance.” God will not do any different than He commands us, saying, “Take heed to yourselves: if thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.” Luke 17:3.
Christ commanded “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name among all nations,” Luke 24:47, but in many churches, repentance or cleansing for sin is seldom preached today. The true meaning of repentance is being changed for a way less reproachful and humbling, but God “resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” I Peter 5:5. Too many sinners are sweetly exhorted to “accept Jesus as their Saviour,” or to “only believe.” This new way of “take it by faith,” without repentance, is filling the churches with unregenerated souls, who have nothing over which to rejoice. They are encouraged to make a profession of faith, when they have no faith, and in so doing, they lie to God and to man, becoming hypocrites who increase their damnation. For the greatest sin is to sin under Christ’s Name. Christ said, ‘’Woe unto you – hypocrites – how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” Matthew 23:29,33. “Let everyone that nameth the Name of Christ, depart from iniquity.’’ II Timothy 2:19. In these “last days,” sinners need to be warned of the wrath of God and eternal hell, “where their worm (soul) dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” Mark 9:44. We simply cannot only proclaim peace and comfort to unrepentant rebels, who have never yet been “reconciled to God,” II Corinthians 5:20, and offer “the water of life” to unconvicted men who have no thirst. Only the true “Gospel of Christ… is the power of God unto salvation.” Romans 1:16.
The Lord Jesus began His ministry by preaching, “Repent: for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand,” Matthew 4:17, and the Apostles obeyed His command to preach repentance and remission of sin in His Name. On the day of Pentecost, St. Peter “preached the Word,” and sinners were “pricked in their heart, and said – what must we do to be saved?” to which he replied, “Repent, and be baptized… in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” Acts 2:37,38. St. Paul testified to all, “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ,” Acts 20:21, warning in Galatians 1:8, “Though we, or an angel from Heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you than that which we have preached… let him be accursed.”
The true Gospel produces conviction, repentance, and faith, as specific sins were made manifest by the light of the Apostles preaching, warning sinners that the works of the flesh are – “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lascivious-ness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like” and declared that “they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galations 5:19-21. To all who “walked… according to the prince of the power of the air, (Satan), the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience,” Ephesians 2:2, the Good News of the Gospel is that there is forgiveness, cleansing, and deliverance for the sin-sick soul who is tired of his sin, and cries out, “Create in me a clean heart, O God… Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” Psalm 51:10,2, for “the Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” Psalm 34:18.