“Repentance is by the Grace of God, whereby the Sinner is inwardly humbled and visible transformed. It is a turning away from sinful desires and turning towards God.”
Understanding true repentance is important for anyone one who is attempting evangelism. If its nature is not correctly understood then such a person can easily force a false conversion thereby leaving the person “Twice as much a son of hell.” (Mathew 23:15)
Before we speak of true repentance let’s discuss what it is not. A false repentance can take on the following appearances.
1. Fear of punishment: A criminal may abstain from stealing because of a fear of the police. But this is not repentance.
2. Resolution against sin: This is your new-year resolution crowd. The person in this category leaves sin for improvements sake alone.
3. Leaving sin for personal gain: Similar to above, a person here leave sins for improvement, but it goes beyond personal satisfaction to the realm of looking for gain. It may be they are leaving sin in order to bribe God with a life of good works.
A True Repentance
What is missing in counterfeit repentance is grace. Without grace sin is not forgiven. So what constitutes a true repentance? There are six ingredients, as the Puritan preacher Thomas Watson put it, which we will briefly touch on.
- In Luke 15:17-19 We see what drove the prodigal son back to his father. The scripture tells us he “came to himself”. It was by grace that this was revealed to him. God says in Jeremiah 17:9 that the heart is so deceitful that no one can truly know it. God reveals to us our sinfulness through his law. Galatians 3:24 says that the Law was our tutor to bring us to Christ.
- In Acts 2:37-38 Peter spoke to the men and their hearts were cut deep by his words. They had a true sorrow over their sin. Psalm 126:5 tells us that that tears shed over sins committed will become shouts of joy through repentance.
- “Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me.” (Hosea 5:15) Confession of our sin to God is needed. Confession should be voluntary, with pain, sincere, complete, and specific.
- We should be ashamed for the sin we have committed and thereby offended God. Our sins have put Christ to shame and so us too. It clarifies our guiltiness.
- In Romans 7:14-15 Paul tells us he has a hatred of his sin. The true repentant should hate his sin because it is “exceedingly sinful”.
- In Job 11:14, Job’s friend says put sin away. There should be a turning away from sin and a turning back to God which leads to the salvation He promised through his Son, Jesus Christ. Salvation requires repentance and faith in Christ. There is no other way.
We must examine ourselves to determine if we have experienced a true repentance. When witnessing and sharing your faith we are not salesmen for Christ trying to add to our client list. Instead we must be in tune with the Holy Spirit and work with Christ as His messenger. It is by the goodness of God comes repentance to the sinner and not by our swiftness of tongue.
To purchase a copy of my book “True Repentance: A Hunters Pursuit” that goes into more understanding of this subject by using stories from the hunting woods, please visit the Hearts For The Lost store by clicking here.
Photo Credit: Chris Yarzab