What is real repentance?
I met a man once who claimed to be a Christian. He made a habit of slandering people with lies to get a few hundred dollars in settlements from various companies.
Wow. How could someone who professed to be a Christian do this with a clear conscience?
He said, “Oh, it’s easy. I just ask for God’s forgiveness every night and go do it again the next day.”
That is definitely NOT God’s definition of repentance.
This is called taking “license” with the goodness, grace, and mercy of God and it is dangerous theology! It is not biblical. If we are prideful and arrogant about our sin and have zero remorse and no change in behavior or direction, that is not real repentance from our sins.
If we think we are clever and happily continue on in sin, we are not following Jesus. If we engage in this sort of “fake repentance” when we stand accountable to God at His judgment seat, things will NOT go well for us.
When we come to Jesus, yielding to Him as Savior and LORD of everything in our lives, we must repent of our sin at that moment and then any time we see sin in our lives. All of it that we know about.
He hates sin because it hurts us and others. He died to pay the massive sin debt we owed to God in our place. If we know Him, we will hate anything He calls sin, too. Because it grieves His heart and we want to bring Him joy.
Christian Repentance Is Not:
- Lip service—saying, “I’m sorry,” but really, I’m not at all sorry, and I plan to just keep sinning.
- Apologizing to God but then purposely putting myself in a vulnerable place where I know I will be tremendously tempted all the time.
- Just being sorry for getting caught and wishing I could sin and get away with it.
- Saying words of confession but continuing to cherish the sin in my heart, longing for it more than I desire God.
- Saying words of apology but blaming other people, circumstances, or God for my sin.
- Justifying my sin before God as if it’s no big deal or I have an excuse that makes my sin okay in His eyes.
- Pridefully minimizing my sin and thinking other people’s sin is much worse than mine.
- Ignoring my sin and living however I want to.
- Flaunting and celebrating my sin.
Yes, Jesus died to give us freedom. But the freedom He gives us is NOT freedom to sin!
He provides us with freedom to no longer be a slave to sin. His kind of freedom gives us the power to do the will of God and do what is right in God’s eyes.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”Gal. 5:13-14
Real Repentance Involves a Change of Mind and a Change of Direction
I turn around and go in the opposite direction. I move away from sin toward Jesus and holiness.
I have a total change of heart and mind about my life, thoughts, words, actions, and motives. I receive a brand new nature in Jesus.
I see my sin now. How filthy it is. How much it breaks your heart and disgusts You because of Your holiness. I hate my sin, too. I see that it is toxic to me and hurtful to others and offensive to You. I don’t want to offend You. I desire real repentance in my life.
I mourn over my sin and beg You to help me in Your graciousness and mercy. I invite You to help me tear out every single speck of anything that displeases You in my life today and every day in the future. I don’t want my old life and old nature. I want to live in the new nature You have for me.
Please cleanse me. Make me more like Jesus, whatever it takes. Whatever the cost. I want to live a holy, Spirit-filled life. I want to hear You say to me one day, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”I want You, Your Spirit, Your presence, Your glory, Your will, and Your kingdom more than anything or anyone in all the world.
I lay down my life and all of my will and my desires and my old sinful self before You as a sacrifice. Take my life and make it beautiful for Your purposes by Your power.Help me walk in the victory of Christ over this sin in my life today.
Any lightbulb moments about real repentance you’d like to share?
If you need prayer or help, please feel free to leave a comment, as well.
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