Real Repentance by gabyion


									                                    Real Repentance
                                                                            Dr. Varghese John,

        If I were asked today to name the one doctrine of the Christian faith being preached
about the least, I would have to say, REPENTANCE,‖ writes Charles Colson. How true it
        Though many ignore this subject, the Bible gives it sufficient emphasis. Both Old
and New Testaments call upon men to repent. Noah was a preacher of repentance. All the
prophets were preachers of repentance. Different forms of the word ‗repentance‘ appear
more than seventy times in the New Testament. Repentance is the first doctrine in the
New Testament, if we consider them in chronological order. John the Baptist commenced
the preaching of repentance. Lord Jesus confirmed it by His preaching and commissioned
His disciples to proclaim the same message. The apostles continued the preaching. All
Christians should be committed to proclaim and practice the message of repentance.

                               False and True Repentance

        Satan, the master of deception, has designed many things to counterfeit Christian
virtues and experiences. This is true in the matter of repentance as well. Since there are
true repentance and false repentance, it is essential to distinguish the difference between
        We see some classic cases of false repentance in the Bible. Judas Iscariot‘s case is
the worst. When he saw that Jesus had been condemned to death, he felt sorry. The Bible
says, ―…he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests
and the elders‖ (Matt. 27: 3). Judas did not REPENT, but was seized with REMORSE.
Repentance is distinctly different from remorse. Remorse is mere sorrow due to the
unpleasant consequences of one‘s past deeds. Repentance also involves sorrow, but is
different. It is sorrow for SIN itself; not sorrow due to some bitter consequences of sin. A
thief, too, feels sorry when he is caught. That is mere remorse and not repentance.
        Well, what is true repentance? The word literally means ―to think differently about
something or to have a change of mind.‖ Repentance is a change of attitude and change in
the direction of life. One has to say good-bye to his past life of sin and turn to God for

forgiveness. This could well be illustrated by the military commands, ―Halt…Right about
turn…Quick March.‖

                                       Essential Elements
       The parable of the prodigal son comprehensively and clearly explains the concept
of repentance. If we trace the steps of his coming back to his father‘s house, we can find
out some of the elements of repentance.

   1. Realization of Sins
       In Luke 15: 17, we read, ―When he came to his senses,‖ he understood his real
condition. He realized where he was and how he came to such a tight spot. Moreover, he
identified the cause of his hopeless condition and acknowledged the sins he had
committed (v.18). The younger son gives us the accurate picture of a sinner who comes
back to God in repentance. REALIZATION OF ONE‘S SINFUL CONDITION is the very
first step of repentance. No one can genuinely repent without this.
       Another point to be observed is that, repentance begins with one‘s intellect. The
prodigal son realized his condition. Realization is something, which happens in one‘s mind.
True repentance begins with the intellect, but it never stops there. It will affect our
emotions and will as well. In fact, true repentance is something, which affects our whole

   2. Regret For Sins
       Consider the latter part of Luke 15: 17. ―…he said, How many of my father‘s hired
men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!‖ He was really sorry about his
condition. He compared his situation with that of his father‘s servants. They had
SURPLUS, whereas he was STARVING TO DEATH! He might have thought about this
with tears rolling down his cheeks. He became a broken and humble man. He says, ―I am
no longer worthy to be called your son‖ (v.19). RIGHT FOR SINS is the next element of
repentance. Regret for the past sins is a genuine mark of repentance. This is applicable to
the sinner and the backslider alike.
       There are many cases of repentance in the Bible, which proves this fact. Take the
case of repentance of Peter. He was very sorrowful when he regretted his sin of disowning

Jesus (Matt. 26: 75). Realization of sins lead to ―godly sorrow‖. This is the kind of sorrow,
Paul referred to in 2 Cor. 7: 10. True repentance stirs up one‘s emotions too.

   3. Turning Away From Sins
        The prodigal son realized his sin and regretted it. What did he do then? He resolved
to return. This is the third element of repentance—RESOLUTION TO TURN AWAY FROM

We have seen that true repentance affects our INTELLECT and EMOTIONS. Here we see
the role of the WILL. When a sinner resolves to turn away from sin, he exercises his will
and takes a strong decision. He decides to turn away from sin and turn to God. He decides
to surrender his stubborn self-will to the will of God. He is now willing to do anything God
wants him to do, whatever be the cost and however humiliating it is.

   4. Confession Of Sins
        The son said to him, ‗Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no
longer worthy to be called your son‖ (Luke 15: 20, 21). He carried out his decision to return
home. He CONFESSED his sins. His confession was clear and concise. His heart was full
and overflowing and he said exactly what he had to say.
        What do we mean by confession? Confession is ―to admit or acknowledge sin.‖
When we confess sins, we have to cal our sins exactly what God calls them. In confession,
we agree with God about our sins. Often, we call sin by other names. We try to whitewash
it, by substituting the words, ‗weakness‘ or ‗human nature.‘ That is not confession, if we do
not confess our sins, we will not get forgiveness because forgiveness is conditional (See 1
John 1: 9).

   5. Restitution For Sins
        Another element in repentance is seen in the story of Zacchaeus (Luke19: 1-10). As
a chief tax collector, Zacchaeus acquired money unlawfully. However, when he repented,
he realized that he should do something seriously to set right his past life. Therefore, he
told the Lord that he would give away half his money to the poor and then give back four
times what he had cheated from others. This is another element of repentance –

RESTITUTION. Willingness to make restitution is one of the evidences of true repentance,
which leads to salvation.
       What does restitution mean to a sinner who comes to Jesus in repentance? It
means that if he had cheated anyone, he should apologize and repay. If he has cheated
Government of taxes or something else, he must now repay. Restitution may not always
involve money. For instance, if you have hurt or injured someone, then you should go and
apologize to him and ask for forgiveness.
       I am not advocating that one should torture himself, trying to recollect all the little
sins he had done in the past. What I means is that one has to settle all that God reminds
him of, when he repents of his sins.

                                      Fruits of Repentance
       Repentance is the change of mind or change of attitude. When attitudes change,
character and life-style also change. Such a radical change will be manifested in the daily
life of the repented person. The changed attitudes and actions due to repentance are
called fruits of repentance.
       John the Baptist demanded fruits of repentance from those who came to him for
baptism: ―Produce fruit in keeping with repentance‖ (Matt. 3: 8). Paul writes about the fruit
of the Spirit, ―But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control‖ (Gal. 5: 22, 23). True repentance will always lead
to faith and make one a child of God. Fruit of the Spirit is produced in his life in due course.
Jesus said, ―By their fruit you will recognize them‖ (Matt. 7: 20). Remember, the fruit is the
only unmistakable sign of a tree. This is true in the life of a person who repents of his sins
and put his trust in Jesus Christ.
       Repentance is the first spiritual experience in the life of a Christian. However,
repentance will not save a person. Salvation is through FAITH alone. Repentance is a
requirement for faith. True repentance will result in faith in Jesus Christ. No salvation is
genuine unless it is through faith. Similarly no faith is genuine unless it is through
                   (Dr. Varghese John is a Bible Teacher based at Trivandrum, Kerala.)


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