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Repentance From Dead Works (10)


Still speaking on the subject of true repentance, we noted in our last broadcast that, divine conviction, which is the presentation of truth by the Holy Spirit, when accepted by the person at whom it is directed, always leads to genuine repentance. We saw that under the human system of justice, if a person admits to a crime, he is punished for it, but under Gods justice, if a person admits his guilt of sin, he is forgiven. We demonstrated this truth from the Scripture, when we observed how the prodigal son in the parable of the Prodigal Son, who is typical of a sinner or backslider; was embraced and kissed by his father, who is a picture of God, when he was still a long way offeven before he had spoken a word of confession! Indeed, when a sinner or backslider is convinced of his sinfulness, having been convicted by the Holy Spirit, and decides to repent before God, out of a genuine heart of remorse, God unconditionally forgives him; welcomes and receives him into His everlasting kingdom! Unfortunately, some people refuse to accept the conviction of the Holy Spirit, not because it is not truth, but rather because they have turned their hearts away from truth; preferring to live by their own standards, outside of truth, and so, are unable and unwilling to repent! But the moment a man can turn in acceptance of truth, which incidentally, is Gods work upon the heart of men, he will repent, and God will save him from the damnation reserved for all those who continue to live in defiance of the truth about God!

True repentance, though based on a realization of ones sinfulness, is more than just saying, Im sorry for what I have done. There are two important elements that make any act of repentance genuine; one of them is that we will not repeat the sinful acts we have repented of. The prodigal son did not repent, only to return to the far country. No! He repented and remained at home, and never again went back to his former wasteful and wanton lifestyle!

The bible emphasizes non-repetition of sin as a very strong factor in considering whether or not repentance has actually taken place! In Matthew 3:8, John the Baptist said to his audience, bear fruit worthy of repentance, indicating that true repentance is physically evident, when it has taken place. The evidence will be clear in the way the so-called repentant person conducts himself, after his repentance. For John the Baptist, his audience were told that they should no longer act selfishly, greedily, covetously, or wickedly; and that they should no longer practice extortion, bribery, corruption, etc. Indeed, the bible is filled with similar injunctions: Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbour (Ephesians 4:25); Be angry and do not sin. (Ephesians 4:26); Let him who stole steal no longer (Ephesians 4:28); and, if we move on to Ephesians 4:29, we read, Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification .

In Proverbs 28:13, the bible says, He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. It is instructive to note that the bible does not just advocate the confession of sin, but also the forsaking or the abandonment of sin. In other words, if before you were brought back to your senses, you were into drinking alcohol, after you have confessed your sins, which should include the drinking of alcohol, you will no longer drink alcohol againever! If an unmarried man or lady was engaged in sexual acts prior to being convicted of sin, and has now confessed his or her sins, which should include the sin of sexual immorality (like fornication, masturbation, homosexuality, lesbianism, pedophilia, bestiality, prostitution, etc.), he or she should never again engage in such acts, and indeed, will never again be involved in pre-marital sex of any sort, until he or she is married. The same goes for other sinful conducts like, gossip, fraud, back-biting, witchcraft, involvement in the occult, and so on.

2 Corinthians 7:9-11 states, Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss in nothing by us. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation not to be regretted: but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter. These verses of scripture speak of a sorrow which leads to true repentancethis sorrow, the bible refers to as godly sorrow, as distinct from worldly sorrow (or the sorrow from a worldly perspective). The sorrow of the world may be emotional, and may be evidenced by tears, but it never produces true repentance; it actually leads people to hell! But godly sorrow, which really is remorse from a penitent heartthe result of divine conviction, produces true repentance, which leads to eternal salvation, not a temporal salvation; but a salvation which, having begun here on earth, extends unto eternity with God! It is the kind of repentance that produces a desire not only to confess ones sins, but also, to forsake anything that can lead a person to commit sin again!

In Luke 19:1-10, we read of Jesus encounter with a man named Zacchaeus. The bible describes Zacchaeus as a chief tax collector (a euphemism for an extortionist), and a very rich man (who probably made money from fraudulent means), who was also diminutive in stature. When Zacchaeus heard that Jesus was passing by, he desired to see Jesus, so he ran ahead and climbed up a tree because of his short stature, so that he could at least catch a glimpse of Jesus. But much to Zacchaeus surprise, when Jesus got to where he was on the tree, Jesus called to him by his name, and informed him that He (Jesus) would be having dinner in his home. So, Zacchaeus quickly came down from the tree, and joyfully welcomed Jesus into his home. But when the people around saw this, they all complained, saying that Jesus had gone to be the guest of a sinner. Upon hearing this, Zacchaues said, in v. 8, Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore four-fold. To anyone, Zacchaeus statement may just have been mere talk; but not to Jesus, for Jesus response in v. 9, reveals Zacchaeus statement to be a confessional statement, for He said, Today, salvation has come to this house Jesus knows the heart of a truly repentant man; something that is too wonderful to obtain by mere human observation. We see that Jesus assessment of Zacchaeus willingness to give away half of his wealth to the poor, and his promise to restitute all that he had taken through extortion and false accusation, was a pronouncement that salvation had come to Zacchaeus home! When we compare Zacchaeus encounter with Jesus, to the encounter that took place between Jesus and another wealthy man in Matthew 19:16-22, we can see the significance of Zacchaeus willingness to give up to half of his wealth to the poor (an action that has kept many people from turning to God in repentance), as a function of genuine repentance. In the story in Matthew 19:16-22, a young wealthy man had approached Jesus directly, and wanted to know what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus told the young man to go and obey the commandments of God, citing a few examples of such, but the young man replied that he had kept all those commandments, believing that the few Jesus had told him was all there was to obey. But it would appear that in spite of keeping these commandments of God, the young man still felt an emptiness or lack, which usually accompanies a heart that is not given over to God, even though it may seem religious. So, the Lord Jesus, hit the nail on the head, in Matthew 19:21, If you want to be perfect, go sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come and follow Me. The bible tells us that the young man was unwilling to part with his possessions, which evidently, was keeping him from God!

Friend, true repentance is not just about giving up sin; it also involves giving up anything that would lead a person to commit sin, or keep a person from a whole-hearted pursuit of Godthings like wealth, possessions, pleasure, friendships, partnerships, etc. Jesus said to the young wealthy man, After you have given all to the poor, then come and follow Me. It is only after you have given up all that is keeping you from following God, that you can truly follow God. And this is true repentance! Some people may argue that wealth, possessions, pleasure, friendships, and so on, cannot cause a person to sin or keep a person from serving God; but the truth is that these are all potential sources of sin. In Matthew 6:24, Jesus said, No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. In Aramaic, mammon is riches; it is also the figure of the control which money and possessions have over their possessors; as it did, the young wealthy man in Matthew 19:16-22. The bible says, in 1 Timothy 6:9-10, But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.; and in 1 John 2:15-16, Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the worldthe lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of lifeis not of the Father but is of the world. These two passages of scripture, point to the fact that for as long you have not forsaken the things that lead men to perdition and all kinds of foolish and harmful lusts, even if you have made a confession of sin, you would still not have repented in the true sense of the word! These verses of scripture also speak of the impossibility of being able to share your devotion to God with anyone or anything elseyou either love God alone, or you dont love Him at all!

Are you prepared to leave everything else and turn to God in repentance? My dear friends, this is a very critical stage for you. Until you have left all to follow Jesus, you are still going to return to sin. Any repentance that does not include leaving all to follow Jesus, is not lasting, and cannot lead to everlasting life! So, when we speak of true repentance, we are saying that all other loves must collapse, and only the love of, and the love for God, must remain. You may ask, What of the love I have for my spouse and children? Yes, that too must go; for it is only when you truly love God, that you can truly love your spouse and children. What you call love now, is really emotional, or even sensual. But when you turn to God in true repentance, God will flood your heart with the kind of love which is not selfish, greedy, covetous, and evil. It is the love of God in you that makes you able to remain with God, without regretting that you lost anything by turning your back on the world.

Let us pray!