Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Seven Misunderstandings of Repentance

Please enjoy this guest post by  Adele Hebert, independent scholar and much loved friend of this site.  She contributes to the God's Word to Women website, she's lent her work to encourage the daughters of patriarchy at Overcoming Botkin Syndrome site and in Quivering Daughters, and she's also served as editor and contributor to Leonard Swidler's Jesus was a Feminist.  



*Salvation is dependent upon repentance 
and belief in Jesus.* Mk 1:15


Repentance is not religion.
John the Baptist challenged the Pharisees in Mt 3:9 and Lk 3:7. “We are the children of Abraham.” Jesus said in Jn 8:34 “Everyone who commits sin is a slave, so if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” In Acts 1:17, it says Judas Iscariot was among the ministry. He witnessed the miracles, heard the sermons, possibly did some healing, was a follower of Christ but what was he called in Jn 17:12? Religion is not enough.
While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. (John 17:12)



Repentance is not faith.

John the Baptist said in Mt 3:02, “Repent and Believe, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.” So did Jesus in Mk 1:15. In Acts 8:13 Simon also believed and was baptized, but what did Peter say in Acts 8:21? James 2:19 says even demons believe and tremble. Faith is not enough.
You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. (Acts 8:21)


Repentance is not mere conviction of sin.

The Holy Spirit convicts you of sin (Jn 16:8). It convicts us of our need to change. In Jn 8:09 Jesus said, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” There were convicted by their conscience but they did not repent. Conviction is not enough.


Repentance is not being sorry for sin.

There are different kinds of sorrow. Read 2 Cor 7:9, 10. People regret many things but remorse doesn’t rehabilitate. It is not God oriented. It is shallow, immature, a false sorrow. It must be directed to God. Sorrow of man is not sorrow of repentance. We must be more than sorry for our sins.
Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:9-10)


Repentance is not prideful self-righteousness.

Read Lk 18:11-14. The Pharisee prayed within himself. The publican prayed to God. The Pharisee had pride in what he did. The publican humbled himself and asked for mercy. In Lk 14:11 it says, “The humble will be exalted.” All of our good works are of no use if we are not right with God. Read 1 Cor 13:1-7.
The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:11-14)

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;  does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;  does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:1-7)


Repentance is not merely acknowledging sin.

Judas acknowledged his sin in Mt 27:3-5. But he did not repent himself. He said “I have sinned.” And hanged himself. This is not repentance. This is adding another sin. He was repentant of the condemnation rather than the sin. He had religion, faith, conviction of sin, sorrow of man (remorse), sin acknowledgement, but no repentance. He didn’t request God to remove the sin. Jesus even called him “friend.” He gave him every chance. He loved him and would have forgiven him but he didn’t ask for forgiveness. There is no sin that is unforgiveable. Jesus asked that the Father forgive those who nailed him to the cross in Lk 23:34. We all know that we sin but we don’t always bring it to God.


What is our motive?

We should not be motivated by fear but by love. We are not supposed to say, “I’m sorry for offending God who can punish me” (which is based on fear). Rather we should say, “I’m sorry for offending you, God, because you love me and I know I hurt you.” In Acts 8:24 fear motivated Simon to say, “Pray for me that I don’t get condemned.” In Ex 8:08 Pharaoh asked Moses to pray to his God to take the frogs away. The interested believer will look up 1 Kings 13:6 and Jer 37:3.
The king said to the man of God, “Please entreat the Lord your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me.” So the man of God entreated the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored to him, and it became as it was before. (1 Kings 13:6)

Yet King Zedekiah sent Jehucal the son of Shelemiah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah, the priest, to Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “Please pray to the Lord our God on our behalf.”



What is repentance? It is turning from sin to God.

It is not stopping on the road to sin, but making a U turn to God, with our will and behavior. Mt 3:8 says, “If you repent, bear the appropriate fruits.”

What are the fruits of repentance? Not wanting to sin, because you know it hurts God, who loves you and died for you. Our sins usually hurt those around us also. Repentance is showing by your actions, for a long time (it takes a long time to produce fruit on a tree… years…) that you are no longer interested in repeating those bad behaviors.

If someone says they are sorry, you must observe for a long time to see if they really mean it. If they are still sorry in a few years and have not done the same behaviors, then you know they have probably repented. We are not supposed to take their word for it instantly. A person who is genuinely sorry needs time to prove themselves.