Summary: A sermon on what repentance is not (Material adapted from Richard Own Robert's boo, Repentance: The First Word of the Gospel, chapter 4 Seven Myths of Repentance
"Man is born with his back toward God. When he truly repents, he turns right around and faces God. Repentance is a change of mind."
Acts 26:19, 20, NIV.
Repentance with many is not the repentance that God finds pleasing. Must prove their repentance by their deeds. Paul also warned that there is a repentance that leads to death as well as a repentance that leads to eternal life. False repentance vs. true repentance.
Stake one’s eternity on errors and attitudes that can be avoided is ultimate in human tragedy.
Thesis: Many popular myths that are not genuine repentance
Sorrow equals repentance
“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10, NIV.
Some of us see people weeping over their sins and we think, “I have never wept like that; maybe I don’t know true repentance.” There is a danger of misunderstanding the relationship between sorrow and repentance.
History provides examples of persons who shed many tears over their sins without genuine repentance. It was revealed that the 42 President of the US was involved in an immoral relationship with a young woman in the White House. He denied the relationship and denounced his accusers as politically motivated. In time he even swore under oath that it was all a trumped up charge, thus adding perjury to his predicament. When he could no longer deny the accusations, the evidence having mounted up so high, he wept freely and declared himself a repentant man. But was he?
Must understand that some weep because they got caught in a sin. Sorrow of the world.
Others shed tears because God is convicting them of their sin and they are so grieved to have offended the Holy One that they weep brokenheartedly over their sin. This is the sorrow that leads to repentance and salvation.
Not against tears but they need to be tears that lead to a transformed life. Many who have known floods of tears and sobs have never come anywhere near repentance and faith.
Self preservation is repentance
Many, who have been caught in sin, have tried to lessen its consequences by repentant like behavior. Others who find themselves in dangerous and even frightening circumstances have vowed to repent if their lives are spared.
Ever hear of “foxhole religion.” Many soldiers on the battlefront, while shells and bombs burst all around them, have been frightened and have made spiritual vows that they fully intended to keep. Unfortunately foxhole religion is not repentance, and many of these young soldiers return to their sins soon after their fears have passed.
The fear of both death and hell are appropriate for all unrepentant persons, but even fear to the point of great trembling can be experienced without genuine repentance following. Indeed, neither the belief nor the trembling of demons has saved any of them. “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder.” James 2:19, NIV. Fear is a motivating force in repentance but it can be cast aside and not produce any change of mind, heart or will.
King Agrippa was moved by his encounter with Paul and said, ““Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”” Acts 26:28, NIV. Agrippa proved that there is a distance between almost and altogether. Few people who almost repent ever do.
Penance and repentance are equal
What is penance? 1.voluntary self-punishment to atone for a sin. 2. a. a punishment usually consisting of prayer, fasting, etc, undertaken voluntarily as an expression of penitence for sin b. a punishment of this kind imposed by church authority as a condition of absolution (remission or forgiveness of sins)
Based upon the NT we can say that acts of penance cannot merit God’s grace and forgiveness. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no-one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8, 9, NIV.
It is against the gospel of Jesus Christ to assign acts of penance for sinners to perform- acts of penance like so many prayers, beds of nails, abstinence from food and drink, giving up cigarettes for Lent, alms, sacrifices, acts of generosity, self affliction such as wearing course hair garments or standing naked in snow banks- and then, when these acts are completed, to pronounce absolution over these people. No where in the NT
These acts are like the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. 1 Kings 18:26-29, NIV.
While the practice of godliness may include acts of abstinence and self control, such acts must never be confused with biblical repentance.
Reformation is repentance
Must remember what true repentance is. Going in the wrong direction and then go in the right direction. Wrong direction is worldly ways, right direction is toward God and his ways.