Jesus Christ is Lord of All

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Aspects of Genuine Repentance

Aspects of Genuine Repentance

Dear Father,
    You are the Giver of every perfect gift, yes, even the gift of repentance that You grant to Your children again and again. When our affections have temporarily turned aside, we were weak and powerless, and yet You have caused us to see a glimpse of the coming judgment, a glimpse of the old man, and a glimpse of Your Son. And it has caused us to cling to You, to draw near to You, and to know that You have drawn near to us. Yes, the great serpent has flown from us and we have flown to Your Son. We could not repent. We could not repent. But what was impossible for men, You have accomplished by Your Spirit on the basis of the atoning blood of Your Son.
In Jesus Christ’s Name,

1.     Destruction of Self

     Genuine repentance includes the changing of the mind regarding self, that is, the old self. As the soul of the repentant prophet sees the righteousness of the Lord, he cries out “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Is 6:5). The inherent problem with the unsaved man is that he constantly seeks to justify his soul. Men are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them (Rom 2:14). They seek to justify self, to defend self, to acquit self, to make restitution for self, to exalt self, to give pleasure to self, to preserve self, to protect self, to glorify self…and all this is apart from Christ. But the role of God’s Law is to be the tutor that leads the chosen ones to Christ (Gal 3:24). Once the unsaved man was “alive” according to his own perception of the state of his soul. He thought there was worth and goodness in him for he was apart from the Law. But when the commandment came, sin became alive in him and he died for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived him and through it killed him. (Rom 7:9-11). But acknowledgement of one’s own wretchedness is not equivalent to the destruction of self that is an aspect of genuine repentance unless it includes the sorrow that is according to the will of God which produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation. For the sorrow of the world produces death. (2 Cor 7:10) But true repentance occurs when His people are united with Christ in the likeness of His death (Rom 6:5). Not only do they see their complete moral depravity, but they see the Savior as having borne that very depravity and the guilt, shame, and condemnation that is due it. This is the saving accompanier to the acknowledgement of self-depravity: the uniting with Christ in the likeness of His death. The repentant soul sees his sinful nature as crucified with Christ. At the same time that he cries out “I am lost!”, he sees his very depravity as borne by the perfect Lamb of God. He sanctifies the Name of the Holy One of Jacob and stands in awe of the God of Israel. Though he erred in mind, he will know the Truth. Though he criticized he will accept instruction. (Is 29:23-24) For the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel has said, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength” (Is 30:15) In order to truly repent, the man must see his soul, all of his old nature, or with regard to the converted person, the remnant thereof, as worthy of condemnation. For Christ has not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32).

“Woe is me, for I am ruined”!

2.     Awareness of Blindness

     Likewise, another aspect of genuine repentance is the awareness of one’s own blindness apart from the enlightening by the Son. For though he is blind, the unrepentant lost man claims to have sight. Jesus said that if the people were blind, they would have no sin; but since they say that they see, their sin remains (John 9:41). All unregenerate men are not only blind, but they claim to their own souls and to the world around them that they can see. In their case the god of this world has blinded their minds so that they might not see the Light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Cor 4:4). To truly repent, one must call out, “I cannot see! Lord that I may receive sight!” Jesus said that for judgment He came into the world, so that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind (Luke 9:39). For those who saw themselves to be worthy in their own eyes did not heed the invitation to the wedding feast of the Lamb. And so He has told His slaves to go at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame (Luke 14:21).

Who is among you that fears the Lord,
That obeys the voice of His servant,
That walks in darkness and has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. Is 50:10

“Lord that I might see!”

3.     The Warning of Coming Wrath

     Another aspect of true repentance is a heeding of God’s warning concerning the coming judgment. For the Spirit has come and convicts the world concerning judgment because the ruler of this world has been judged (John 16:8, 11). John the Baptist warned the people to flee from the wrath to come, and to bear fruit in keeping with repentance. For the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Luke 3:7-9) Similarly when Peter told the people to repent and be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, the promise for as many as the Lord would call to Himself, he used many other words to solemnly testify and exhort them saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation”. (Acts 2:38-40) This “fleeing from wrath” involves the fleeing from immorality, from idolatry, from the love of money, and from youthful lusts (1 Cor 6:18, 1 Cor 10:14, 1 Tim 6:11, 2 Tim 2:22). For because of these God’s wrath is coming. With regard to the regenerate man who has fallen into sin, the same warning of the coming judgment is effective to lead him forward on the straight way for he acknowledges that the very fleshly desires he faces are waging war against his soul and seek to destroy the very new life that he has been granted (1 Pet 2:11). His Father reminds him that there is a point of no return. For just as afterwards Esau desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears (Heb 12:17). And in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, received a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned. (Heb 6:4-8) The fear of God does involve conviction of the coming judgment, and fleeing to take hold of Christ, the refuge and Anchor. But a fear of hell is not enough, the man must take hold of Christ. He must truly repent.

“I must escape the coming wrath!”

4.     Acknowledgment of Incompetency to Elicit One’s Own Repentance

     There comes a point in the lives of some unregenerate men when they sees that unless they repent they will perish. The rich young ruler wanted to earn eternal life through his good deeds, only to realize by Christ’s Words that in order to follow Christ he needed to have a complete reversal of his mindset and heart condition. He had to repent. His inability to sell all of his wealth and give it to the poor was due to his inherent unwillingness. He went away sad, knowing he required such a deep repentance, and yet knowing he was unable to elicit such repentance within himself. Often lost men come to the point of being condemned by the Law of God within their own souls, and yet find themselves unable to elicit true repentance. For true repentance is not a choice or decision of man. It is impossible for him to repent. But what is impossible for men is possible with God. God brings about repentance. And thus the repentant sinner acknowledges his incompetency to have repented without God’s enablement. He believes Christ’s Words that no one can come to Him unless it has been granted him from the Father (John 6:65). And yet he acknowledges the nature of the Son to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide their feet into the way of peace (Luke 1:79). And his response is to watch expectantly for the Lord, the God of his salvation. He knows that his God will hear him. He tells his enemy not to rejoice over him. For though he falls he will rise; though he dwells in darkness, the Lord is a light for him. He bears the indignation of the Lord because he had sinned against Him, until He pleads his case and executes justice for him. He knows that God will bring him out into the light of Christ, and he will again see His righteousness. (Mic 7:7-9). Even when a converted person falls into sin, he seeks the Lord and waits upon him to grant him the gift of repentance. He knows that his Good Shepherd will capture his heart and that if he did not he would be damned. He knows with his God there is forgiveness and restoration and thus he fears God (Ps 130:4).

“Only He can help me to repent!”

5.     The Allurement in the Desert

     Often there is a desert that the sinner finds himself in where he is parched and in which his soul draws near the grave. The sin that once enthralled his eyes and the objects of the desires of the flesh no longer bring him pleasure. His lovers have turned against him and he dwells in darkness. Even a straying Christian, as he keeps silent about his sin, his body wastes away through his groaning all day long. For day and night God’s hand was heavy upon him; his vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Finally the one who had sinned acknowledged his sin to God, and did not hide his iniquity. He says that he will confess his transgression to the Lord. And God forgives the guilt of his sin. (Ps 32:3-5) For in the desert, God allures His people. He brings her into the wilderness and speaks kindly to her. (Hos 2:14). He betroths her to Himself forever in righteousness and in justice, in lovingkindness, compassion, and faithfulness. Then they will know the Lord! (Hos 2:18-20) Thus the true sons do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when they are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Therefore they strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for their feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather healed. (Heb 12:7-13) Yes, He Himself brings the one who has sinned into the desert. There in the desert He allures her and speaks kindly to her. This is the kindness that results in repentance (Rom 2:4).

Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You [g]in a time when You may be found;
Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him.
You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble;

You surround me with [h]songs of deliverance. Ps 32

“I wasted away, but He came and spoke kindly to me!”

6.     The Inevitable Circumcision of the Heart by the Spirit

     True repentance is a result of the inevitable circumcision of the heart by the Spirit. It is inevitable because all those who God has chosen are objects of His effectual blood and the grace therein. For he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God (Rom 2:29). The changing of the mind and heart that are the essence of genuine repentance occurs not by man’s reasoning or striving, but by the supernatural work of the Spirit. And once He has accomplished the work of bringing about our repentance, our reasoning and striving has become, by His grace, well suited for His purposes. For His New Covenant is that we shall be His people, and He will be our God. He gives us one heart and one way, that we may fear Him always, for our own good and for the good of our children after us. He has made an everlasting covenant with us that He will not turn away from us, to do us good; and He will put the fear of Himself in our hearts so that we will not turn away from Him. (Jer 32:38-40). Once the people of God have repented at the time of conversion, their repentance has not ended, but rather, it grows and deepens. And when he falls into sin, the Spirit elicits the very same repentance through the transformation that occurs by the renewing of the mind with the Truth of the Gospel. For as we walk with the Spirit, we will not carry out the desire of the flesh. But the Spirit will gain the victory in the lives of God’s people. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are in opposition to one another, so that we do not do the desires of the flesh, that which is pleasing to the flesh. (Gal 5:16-17) And so He has enclosed us behind and before, and laid His hand upon us. Such knowledge is too wonderful for us; it is too high, we cannot attain to it. Where can we go from His Spirit? Or where can we flee from His presence? If we ascend to heaven, He is there; if we make our bed in Sheol, behold, He is there. If we take the wings of the dawn, if we dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there His hand will lead us, and His right hand will lay hold of us. If we say that surely the darkness will overwhelm us, and the light around us will be night, even the darkness is not dark to Him, and even night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to Him. (Ps 139:5-12) Genuine repentance is inevitable for the true believer, for it is enabled by the Father whose desire is to conform him to the image of His Son through the indwelling Holy Spirit who powerfully opposes the sin of the flesh.

“He surely grants the gift of repentance to me!”

7.     The Casting of Hope, Gaze, and Confidence on Christ

     Genuine repentance always involves the casting of hope, gaze, and confidence on Christ, specifically on His finished work. Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so the Son of man has been lifted up and His people behold Him as being the perfect Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). The Lord has created a new thing in the earth—a woman will encompass a man (Jer 31:22). The Bride of Christ willingly turns to Christ. The ends of the earth turn to the Lord and are saved (Is 45:22). Whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. (2 Cor 3:15-17) The Father’s will is that everyone who behold the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and Christ Himself will raise him up on the last day (John 6:40). In addition to the conviction of coming judgment, the genuine repentance is a willing turning and gazing upon the beauty and incomprehensible love of Christ.

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Heb 4

“Behold, the Lamb of God who took away my sin!”

8.     The Healing of Apostasy

     One evidence of genuine conversion is the curing of backsliding and faithlessness. When a person claims to have repented and yet keeps on sinning, it may be questioned whether his heart’s attitude towards his sin has truly changed. For if the heart’s affections have not changed, a man will not be able to maintain a lifestyle against his true heart’s affection. Thus, a man who has not truly repented cannot maintain a life of love and holiness. Similarly a converted man cannot live a life of sin because his heart’s affections have changed away from wickedness and towards Christ. The repentant man takes words with him and returns to the Lord. He asks God to take away all iniquity and receive him graciously, that he may present the fruit of his lips. He acknowledges that his previous idols cannot save him. For only in God the orphans find mercy. And thus God heals their apostasy, and loves them freely. For His anger has turned away from them. (Hos 14:1-4)

21 A voice is heard on the bare heights,
The weeping and the supplications of the sons of Israel;
Because they have perverted their way,
They have forgotten the Lord their God.
22 “Return, O faithless sons,

I will heal your faithlessness.”
“Behold, we come to You;
For You are the Lord our God.
23 “Surely, the hills are a deception,
A tumult on the mountains.
Surely in the Lord our God
Is the salvation of Israel. Jer 3

“Where else can I go Lord, You have the Words of Eternal Life”

9.     Two Reasons to Include Repentance in the Core Gospel Message

-        Scripture teaches us to tell people to repent and believe the Gospel. God tells us to repent and live (Ez 18:32). John the Baptist told the people to repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand and to bear fruit in keeping with repentance (Matt 3:2,8). When Jesus preached He told people to repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand (Matt 4:17), and He came to call sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32). When the disciples were sent out, they preached that men should repent (Mark 6:12). As Peter preached the Gospel on the day of Pentecost he told the people to repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38) and later he preached that people should repent and return that their sins would be wiped out (Acts 3:19). As Paul preached to the men of Athens he said that God is calling all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30) and kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance (Acts 26:20).
-        Telling the hearers to bear fruit in keeping with repentance is a gracious means of examining the genuineness of repentance. For an unconverted person cannot maintain the fruit of repentance. And thus if a person who professes to be repenting is unwilling or unable to give up sin to any significant degree, he must examine himself to see if he is in the faith, and if Christ has been formed in him (2 Cor 13:5, Gal 4:19). Though repentance is not perfect, it is genuine and results in the renouncing of known wickedness. It will surely deepen and grow over time resulting with greater measures of holiness and love in the believer.

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. Rev 3:19

“Yes, it was His grace that my fellow man told me to repent and believe in the Gospel!”

10.  An Excellent Passage on Repentance

17 “There is hope for your future,” declares the Lord,
“And your children will return to their own territory.
18 “I have surely heard Ephraim grieving,

‘You have chastised me, and I was chastised,
Like an untrained calf;
Bring me back that I may be restored,
For You are the Lord my God.
19 ‘For after I turned back, I repented;
And after I was instructed, I smote on my thigh;
I was ashamed and also humiliated
Because I bore the reproach of my youth.’
20 “Is Ephraim My dear son?
Is he a delightful child?
Indeed, as often as I have spoken against him,
I certainly still remember him;
Therefore My [j]heart yearns for him;
I will surely have mercy on him,” declares the Lord.
21 “Set up for yourself roadmarks,
Place for yourself guideposts;
Direct your [k]mind to the highway,
The way by which you went.
Return, O virgin of Israel,
Return to these your cities. Jer 31

“He loves me so I will return to Him!”

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