Summary: Repentance... How would you define it? It may be the case if I asked every person in this room to give me a definition of repentance, I may get quite a few different answers. This is a subject that I believe is greatly misunderstood in the religious world
Repentance... How would you define it? It may be the case if I asked every person in this room to give me a definition of repentance, I may get quite a few different answers. This is a subject that I believe is greatly misunderstood in the religious world, including amongst the Lord’s people.
What is repentance:
• To ask for forgiveness?
• To have a change of mind?
• To feel sorry for your actions?
• To come back to church after “forsaking the assembly” (because of sin)?
• To come forward at the invitation?
All of these “definitions” that people give to repentance, I believe, fall short of defining repentance biblically. Some of these things may happen when someone has repented, but in and of themselves, they are not repentance. We will talk about these things during our lessons today and talk about how they fit into the discussion about repentance, but we need to understand that if we think we have repented solely because we have done one of these things or a few of these things, we are deceiving ourselves into thinking that we have truly shown repentance in our lives before others and God.
What is real repentance?
Repentance is a brokenness in spirit that leads a person to a change of heart, a change of works, and to a desire to be cleared from their sin, which includes the confession of sin which is specific and free from excuses…
1. REPENTANCE BEGINS W/ A BROKENNESS IN SPIRIT
This sorrow that we have is more than an outward display of sadness. It is more than feeling sorrow for our sin merely because we happened to get caught.
To repent Biblically, we must have a brokenness in spirit. When we have realized that we have sinned and rebelled in some way against our God, this should be the natural response. You have probably heard or seen a young child who knew they did something that was going to get them some kind of punishment, so what do they do? They cry and cry. They say they are never going to do the action again… They are not sad because they realized they have disobeyed their parents and are truly sorry for it, but because they want to avoid any consequences for their actions.
A little bit closer to home… I have done this in my marriage… I say or do something stupid that upsets my wife or makes her cry… I sin against her, and because she is crying and I feel bad that I made her cry… I say I am sorry… I try to apologize so she will cheer up and I don’t have to feel like a jerk for making her cry… This is not repentance… It is a selfish, sinful apology. It is more concerned about self than it is about a desire for the restoration of the relationship and forgiveness of the sin.
It is easy to be more concerned about what people think about us when we sin instead of being concerned about our relationship with God when we sin. We try to show as much sadness and sorrow for what we have done as a cover up for repentance so the person will look at us differently or so we can escape the consequences. We may come back to church or even come forward at the invitation and ask for the congregation’s forgiveness, but this is not repentance. We are not going to fool God into thinking we have repented. We may be able to fool people, but not God.
When we sin or are confronted with our sin, it must break us. If we have truly experienced a relationship with the Lord, to be confronted with our sin is to be confronted with something that has gotten in the way of us having the kind of relationship we want to have with God and our brethren. When we see that, it will hurt us deep inside…
In our scripture reading, God said through the prophet Joel to “weep“ and to “rend your heart and not your garments”(Joel 2:12-13). Outward signs of sorrow are not enough, God wants us to be broken inside over our sin. We know how that feels. Many of us have had a “broken heart” when a relationship that we have valued has either been disrupted or even ended by that person. Have we ever felt that way about our sin against God? David gives us a great example of this:
3 For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. 4 Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge. 16 …You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise (Psalm 51:3-4; 16-17)