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Monday, February 27, 2012

What is repentance?

I love the illustration of two people playing catch at a picnic.  They are throwing a ball back and forth.  Suddenly, some one calls to one of the two people playing catch.  This distracts the one person just as the other releases the ball.  As you might have guessed it, the distracted person gets hit right in he face with the ball!  The person who threw it is trying to be sympathetic by asking, while chuckling, "Are you OK?"  They immediately follow that question with an audible laughter and say, "I'm so sorry!"  Can a person who is laughing at you really be sorry?  We use the word sorry very loosely today.  Is sorrow repentance?  What is repentance?  What does the above text say about that?

In verse eight we see that Paul's letter caused those who read it sorrow.  He adds, "though only for a while" and that tells us sorrow is temporary.  The word sorrow is the Greek word lupeo and it means to grieve.  If sorrow is temporary it can not be repentance.  Sorrow may hurt bad, but it is not repentance.  Consider Lk 22:39-46.  We read in verse 40 that Jesus tells them to pray.  Easy enough right?  Well, when we read verse 45 we see that Jesus was sweating blood in his prayer, but the others where "sleeping from sorrow."  The sorrow was real and painful.  Remember, they knew Judas left to betray Jesus.  They were very sorrowful.  Time healed that sorrow and it went away.  Sorrow is real.  It hurts and it is temporary, but it is not repentance.  I believe it is a part of repentance because we can be "made sorrowful to the point of repentance", but sorrow alone is not repentance.

In the same verse we see the word regret.  This Greek word means to care to one afterwards.  This, as I see it, is a natural progression from sorrow.  We have grief, or sorrow, because of hitting that person on the face with a ball.  So that grief turns to regret and we tend to that person to ensure that they are OK.  We regret a lot of things in life, but that doesn't mean we repent of them.  Regret is temporary.  An adulterer may regret their actions and treat their spouse special as a result of that regret.  I'm sure they have the grief of being sorrowful, but often times that sorrow and regret fades and they are right back to adultery.  I believe regret is a part of repentance, but regret alone is not repentance.

In verse 9 we see the word repentance.  That Greek word means to change ones mind and deeds.  That my friends is repentance.  We must make a 180 degree change of deeds and thoughts when we repent.  The most important part of our change must be "according to the will of God."  Many people change themselves because of what they do to another person or themselves and that is not repentance.  That adulterer may change and never commit adultery again because they hurt  their spouse or damaged their reputation, and that is not repentance.  That adulterer must change their mind and deeds because what  they did was not according to God's Will.  We first sin against God.  We must change because the things we do are a stench in the Lord's nostrils!   Many drug addicts change because they are worried about how people look at them.  We must turn from sin because of God's view of sin not mans.  That is repentance.  Lk 13:3 doesn't say unless you be sorry you will perish.  It doesn't say unless you regret you will perish.  It says you must repent.  You must change your thoughts and deeds because they are not according to God's Will or you will perish.  

Changing what we do because we are sorrowful and regretful that we hurt others or ourselves is not repentance it is reformation.  Many drug addicts and alcoholics are reformed but that doesn't mean they repented.  We must understand that we have sinned against a Holy God and repent to Him by changing our thoughts and deeds.  WE MUST REPENT AND NOT JUST REFORM.

Consider the prodigal son of Lk 15:11-31.  He gets his inheritance and squanders it in the world with wild living.  He soon realizes life is better under his father's care.  Funny how eating pigs food can that to ya, huh?  When he goes back to his father what does he say?  Does he say, "Daddy, I'm sorry.  I regret leaving this house."  NO!!  In verse 21 he says, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight..."  He understood he sinned against God first.  That is repentance my friends.  

Today, we must realize that when we sin we are sinning against a Holy God, and that must change our thoughts and deeds.  When we say it like the psalmist that says "Against you, you only, I have sinned and done what is evil in your sight..." Ps 51:4  Our Father in heaven will welcome us back into the fold, bless us with the best He has, and the angels will rejoice just like the prodigal son was welcomed home, given the best his father had to offer, and the workers began to celebrate.


Hear The Word-  Rom 10:17; Acts 4:4

We Must Believe or Have Faith-  Heb 11:6; Acts 16:31

We Must Repent-  Lk 13:3; Acts 17:30

We Must Confess Christ Before Others-  Mt 10:32; Acts 8:37

We Must Be Immersed Into Christ (Baptized)-  1Pe 3:21; Mk 16:16; Acts 2:38  

We Must Remain Faithful-    Rev 2:10; Acts 14:22

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