SERMON TITLE: UNDERSTANDING REPENTANCE
Luke 5:32 ( NKJV ) “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Luke 15:7 ( NKJV ) “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.”
Luke 24:46-47 ( NKJV ) “Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
I. FIRST, CONSIDER WHAT REPENTANCE IS NOT
A. It Is not Just Being Remorseful.
1. It is possible to “feel sorry” for your sins, yet have no desire to quit sinning.
2. Paul said, “Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation “ but the sorrow of the world worketh death” (2 Cor 17:10).
3. Example– Judas Iscariot
a. Judas Iscariot was remorseful for betraying Christ. He cried, “I have betrayed innocent blood.”
b. He even returned the “blood money,” then went out and “hanged himself.”
c. But he never repented, and he died lost!
4. Illustration….The Rich Man in Hell
a. Matthew 16:19-31
b. He was full of remorse.
c. He was sorry he was in Hell, and he was even concerned about his five younger brothers, and did not want them to come there.
d. But he was too late to repent!
5. Bro Bill Neece wrote what a lady said to him:
a. “Preacher, I”m sorry! I know what I am doing is wrong.
b. I know I ought to stop doing it “ BUT I ENJOY IT!” She refused to turn away from her sin!
B. It Is Not Mere Outward Reformation.
1. Reformation is merely “turning over a new leaf “ exchanging bad habits for good ones.”
2. However, this does not go deep enough to change the heart!
3. God said, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you” (Ezek 36:25).
4. Paul said, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor 5:17).
C. It Is Not Doing Penance.
1. Penance means “human effort to atone for sin and gain favor with God.”
2. The Roman Catholic Church has changed its scriptures from “repent” to “do penance.”
3. However, that is not a translation at all; it is a substitution of Catholic Dogma for the plain command of God to “repent.”
4. John didn’t say, “Do penance for the kingdom of God is at hand.”
5. Christ didn’t say, “Do penance and believe the Gospel “ except ye do penance ye shall all likewise perish.”
6. Peter didn’t say, “Do penance and be converted.”
7. The plain command of God is that men should “repent.”
D. It Is Not Wishful Longing To Be A Christian.
1. Many people desire to be saved sometime, but most of them will not make it.
2. Christianity is not made with a “wishbone,” but with a “backbone.”
E. It Is Not Fear of Punishment or Of Hell.
1. Those who only turn to God in times of sickness, death, and heartache, usually forget Him when those things pass.
2. Some people wait until the “dews of death” are on their brow, and then they weep and wail, and tell you how “sorry” they are.
a. But that is not “godly sorrow,” that is “fear”!
b. They are not “sorry” because they have broken the Heart of God a million times over by their sinful rebellion against Him.
c. They are “sorry” because they see the “gates of hell” opening to receive their miserable souls.
d. These people usually forget God if they get well.
II. SECOND, CONSIDER WHAT REPENTANCE REALLY IS
A. The word “repentance” means to
1. “change your mind
2. “ your attitude
3. “ your direction
4. “ your manner of living.”
5. It is more than just to change your opinion.
B. Here are some of the things it entails:
1. A Genuine Awakening to the Fact That You Are a Guilty Lost Sinner Before God.
a. Sin is universal.
b. All men have fallen under its deadly power.
c. The Bible says, “Death passed upon all men for that all have sinned” (Rom 5:12).
d. James said, “Sin when it is finished bringeth forth death” (James 1:15).
e. That is why Paul cried out. “Awake thou that sleepeth and arise from the dead and Christ shall give thee light” (Eph 5:14).
2. A thorough awakening to the fact that you are a lost, guilty sinner before God is absolutely essential to you being saved.
a. This is the only thing that will produce “godly sorrow,”
b. The Bible says, “Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation” (2 Cor 7:10).
c. No one ever repents and turns to God until he realizes he is lost!
3. An Honest Confession of Your Sins.
a. God said, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Prov 28:13).
b. Many people know they are lost, but they are not willing to face and confess their sins as God demands.
c. First, We must confess our sins to God.
(1) The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
d. Second, we must confess to the Person against whom we sinned.
(1) This is where the going gets tough.
(2) But what good is there in asking God to forgive me if I refuse to confess to the person I have wronged”
(3) Jesus said, “If thou bring thy gift to the altar and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee”(means you have done wrong and he holds it against you); leave there thy gift before the altar and go thy way: first be reconciled to thy brother and then come and offer thy gift” (Matt 5:23-24).
(4) Unless every sin is confessed and where possible, straightened up, it will bar your entrance to the “Gates of Heaven.”
(5) There can be no regeneration in the soul without true repentance, and that means confession of sin, first to God, then to the person against whom the sin was committed.
4. Restitution to the Extent of Your Ability.
a. God said, “If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he hath robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall live, he shall not die” (Ezek 33:15).
b. The doctrine of “restitution” is almost a forgotten one, but it is still necessary for you to be saved!
c. Remember Zaccheus
(1) When Jesus came by and commanded him to come down out of the tree because He was going home with him, Zaccheus said, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.”
(2) Jesus answered, “this day is salvation come to this house” (Luke 19:9).
C. A Complete Abandonment of All Your Sins.
1. God said, “Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).
2. Notice two things about this:
a. First, It Needs To Be An Immediate, Business-like Turning Away From Sin Unto God.
(1) Repentance is a direct about-face!
(a) If the Prodigal had stayed in the pig-pen he never would have seen his Father’s face again.
(b) He did not come home with a pig under each arm, either.
(2) Second, It Needs To Be An Eternal Turning Away From Sin.
(a) The Bible says, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? ? WHEREFORE COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM AND BE YE SEPARATE, saith the Lord, and TOUCH NOT THE UNCLEAN THING; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord almighty” (2 Cor 6:14-18).
I ask you today, have you repented of your sins?
Have you been forgiven and washed in the blood of Christ? Have you come to Him and trusted Him as your Lord and Savior?
In Revelation 2:21, Jesus said of the Jezebel in the church at Thyratira, “And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.”
Listen, refusal to repent now is sin. It hardens your heart, increases your guilt, grieves the heart of God more, and makes future repentance less likely. If you say “NO” to God today, you may never again feel disposed to say “YES.” Death may cut you off without another chance.
God may never call again.