Bible Lesson 97

REPENTANCE

From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”

Matthew 4:17

Repentance’..the turning from sin to God, has for some strange reason been thrown out, lost or hidden, from preaching to a great degree in our society. The reason is pretty obvious when you think of how the focus of so much of our teaching and preaching has shifted from God to man. God has not and will not ever move, rather we moved and now our focus is upon ourselves and what we want and need instead of what only God can give to us. Every one of us was born with our back to God, dead in trespass and sin, and helpless and hopeless to claim salvation without the influence of God in and on our lives. Slowly but surely, we have drifted away from the only source of our help which is in the Almighty God of Creation.

Remember how God has given us gifts that make our lives more organized, better able to continue the pace of life, and even the assurance that if we come to Him through His Son Jesus Christ, we would inherit eternal life in heaven with Christ. God even gave us a revelation that all of that was a possibility because of what God had decreed in eternity past for those who love Him enough to submit their lives to Him.

God gave us life and a place that would sustain life, He gave us productive lives and even provided a day that we could turn aside for work and draw near to God in worship. Our great-grandfathers called that day the Holy Sabbath, then our grandfathers began to call it simply the Sabbath, our fathers called it Sunday, but in our day we have come so far from God’s provision that we simply refer to the Holy Sabbath, as the weekend. In effect, we have substituted a holiday for the Holy day.

We have gone even further and have begun to believe that our particular denominational congregation can add people to the True Church without God having anything to do with it. We decided that God’s Holy inerrant Word, the Bible was not politically correct enough and so we took it upon ourselves to change the requirements of God to something that would be acceptable to sinners who had no intention of ever submitting to the yoke of Christ.

Repentance was one of the lynch-pins in our decision to sweeten up the doctrines of God as we undertook to build congregations by mixing the tares of the devil with the wheat of God. God even gave us instructions on what to do when we found tares among the wheat in the church; however we have laid aside God’s instructions concerning church discipline, so we refuse to clean our roles of those who are not saved.

Because of all of that we have become worldly churches instead of a Godly church. When was the last time that your church saw an example of church discipline’ Some of you may say that your congregation is all saved and that there are no tares among the wheat’?no determined sinners among the saints; but, if you don’t mind please allow me to question you on that point.

What most of the church has done in our society is to act like the three little monkeys that were at one time just about anywhere you looked. This was a little statue of three monkeys’..one with his hands over his eyes, one with his hands over his ears and the other with his hands over his mouth, and they symbolized that they saw no evil, heard no evil and spoke no evil. That would be a good thing if we were like those three monkeys who seem to be saying that they had separated themselves from anything evil; however, what we mean in that sense is that we refuse to see anything evil.

That means that in our churches evil goes unnoticed, unchallenged, and unimpeded. We hear no evil; we won’t do anything about evil when we hear it with our ears. Then the third monkey, even when we see evil and hear evil, we are going to keep our mouths shut about it. We have heard that it’s none of our business and that we are never to judge anything that another person does until the church has exactly no power to cleanse itself.

One of the favorite verses in our Bible for the majority of people that are church-members is the verse in Matthew chapter seven and verse one. That verse says, ‘Judge not that you be not judged’, and the majority of people know that verse by heart and they repeat it anytime they become aware that someone is in sin, or perhaps whenever someone rebukes them for some sin in their lives. They don’t normally know where to find the verse’.but they know it by heart. Sadly, for many of them, that is all they know and perhaps they think it is all that they need to know. The remainder of God’s Word can sink or swim, their verse is ‘Judge not that you be not judged.’ Don’t get me wrong now that is exactly what the verse says.

The problem is that it has to be taken in the context of the next four verses that follow verse one. In the context that says that we are to judge; but only after we have checked ourselves to make sure that we are not guilty of some sin. If you will notice we are not to leave a brother with anything in his eye, we are to remove the speck from his eye (Matthew 7:1-5). What that verse tells us that we are not to be a hypocrite. We are not to judge something about our brother that God has not said was wrong, but we are to judge righteous judgments (John 7:24). We are not to judge those who are not church members but we are to judge the saints (1st Corinthians 5:9-13). We are not to lift scriptures like Matthew 7:1 and attempt to hide our sin or at least keep anyone else from saying anything about our sin. We have ‘invented’ so many non-Christian phrases like ‘we are not to judge’ and ‘we are all just sinners saved by Grace’ by which we mean that God is not able to keep us from sin’..that we have confused people who are interested in knowing the gospel of Christ.

Many know something about the definition of the word Repentance. They know that they have been told that repentance means ‘turning away from sin and turning to God’. They have been taught the answer to the question, but they did not understand the question. The same preacher that taught them the meaning of the word went on probably in the same sentence to tell them that they could never really turn away from all sin. Repentance means exactly what we said it meant a moment ago, it means a turning away from sin with a vengeance and a turning to God with our minds make up to stay turned away from sin and to stay turned to God. Charles Haddon Spurgeon used a little children’s hymn to emphasize what repentance means.

That hymn says ‘Repentance is to leave The sins we loved before, and show that we in earnest grieve by doing so no more’. Repentance is not making up our minds that sin has caused us grief and making up our minds to be better and to be sorry that we got so sinful. Repentance is not involved in our seeking to purchase ‘fire insurance’ or the dread of hell for eternity. Any sane person who has read what the Bible says about hell should be scared to death about hell, and they should despair of their condition; however, that has nothing to do with repentance. True repentance is another gift from God because God deals with the heart, mind, and soul of the person he brings to repent of their sin, and it is God who creates that godly sorrow that erupts into true repentance.

We do not suddenly decide to repent. We may well, decide that we should be a little better, and we may appear a little better to those around us; however that has nothing to do with true repentance, which is brought by God in salvation. Before we are saved, by God’s grace, we can repent of sins every day, but God is required in real repentance (2nd Corinthians 7:8-12). The scripture there in 2nd Corinthians tells us that it was Paul that brought the truth that caused godly sorrow; however, it was God’s truth that caused it. Remember, Salvation is all of God. So when should any sinner repent’ Today is the day of salvation and your desire and your striving should be to draw nearer to God by the hearing of His Word’.whether it be reading the Bible for yourself or hearing the truth from some faithful preacher of God (Romans 10:17; 2nd Corinthians 6:2). Why today’ Why not wait until a later time’

The truth is that we will never be saved except in God’s time and in God’s way, always remember that salvation is of God (Psalms 3:8); but God tells us that he came to save that which was lost’ and that means those who are lost and know that they are lost and cast themselves on the Grace and Mercy of God, that He manifested to us in the blood of His Son Jesus Christ as He hung on the cross to redeem those who would obey Him (Matthew 18:11; Hebrews 5:8-9).

We know how we prepare ourselves for anything’.we learn as much about it as we can from the instruction book (In salvation it is the Bible), we speak and listen to those who have mastered the game or job or whatever it is we want to do. You can become aware of your depraved condition and begin to seek God in His Word the Bible and seek out those who evidence that they know the Savior. Christ has said that He would not turn away any who came to Him, and He told us how we must come in Luke 14:26-33). Christianity is not a mind game that we can play with God, and salvation is not the reward for those who think that they have beaten God at the game. Nothing that mortal man can accomplish in his short time here on the earth, can even compare with the gracious, gift of eternal life that God gives to those who come to Jesus determined to obey Him.

Salvation consists in our being brought back from hell and condemnation, to a right relationship to our Creator. We, as we said before, are born in a state of rejection of our God, we who are puny creatures of the Almighty God, defy Him, and even ignore Him as we run after the things of the world and reject his gift of forgiveness and salvation. We are corrupted at all levels because of the nature of our forefather Adam. We inherited a nature that was capable of turning away from our Creator and seeking our way, and we will never want to know God (at least not on His terms), nor would we seek to know Him. We are born corrupted as we said in all aspects of our lives, and we must in Salvation turn away from sin and turn again to face God as He saves us. Our minds once corrupted now have to be cleansed and sanctified and changed and that is what takes place in repentance. Someone has said, ‘True repentance has a double aspect; it looks upon things past with a weeping eye, and upon the future with a watchful eye’.

Jesus tells us in Luke 5:32, ‘I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance’. What do you think that verse of scripture is saying to us’ Ask yourself, who are these that are righteous’ There is none righteous but God When Jesus came to the earth there was no one righteous man, woman or child on the earth (Romans 3:10-12). What Jesus is saying here is that He did not come to save those who considered that they were righteous but those who knew for certain that they were sinners and that they could not stand the idea of what they had become. You can never come to God with anything in your hand. You have nothing that God needs or wants; because, anything that you have and think is righteousness is all as filthy rags, in the sight of God (Isaiah 64:6). When God begins salvation in you, you are dead in trespass and sin, under the wrath of God, depraved in your nature, unpleasing, unrighteous, unheeding and condemned to hell; but God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loves us, even when we were dead in trespass, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved). (See Ephesians 2:1-5). Every one of us fits that description and we need to understand that is it not individual sins that we should be concerned about in the genesis of repentance, it is our sin nature. Our sinful nature is the root cause of all individual sins and we do repent of those sins but only after we have dealt with our nature which loves to sing, and drives us to individual acts of sinfulness.

I had a person recently made the statement that, he had been going to church since he was a small boy and that he was not guilty of some of the more gross sins that others could recount as having been saved from. What he had failed to see was a damning fact and that was that his sin nature was the reason that he was going to the same hell that Hitler, Pol pot, Stalin, and other murderers and thieves and adulterers are in. Perhaps he still had not truly repented and been saved, even after a life spent going to church. Did you know that you could go to church every day of the week and three times on Sunday, sing in the Choir, teach Sunday school, be a loving husband and father and still go to hell’ You can and you will if you fail to truly repent and be saved. Like it or not, we have forgotten preaching repentance and as a consequence, we have filled our congregations and churches with baptized sinners who have never truly grieved over sin and felt the need of a Savior. Most have repented over something, some over what they have done to their families or their communities or their businesses but unfortunately many have not repented over who they are. I sometimes wonder if we go to church to worship God or to be involved with some of the multitudes of programs that exist in most churches today.

Repentance is not an option that God gives us; it is one of God’s steps that we pass on the way to salvation. Someone may ask, well, which comes first regeneration or repentance, and I think the best answer is that we can look at all of the different gifts that come in Salvation as we would view a wheel with several spokes. When that wheel turns, all of the spokes move at the very same time and I believe that salvation works on that same principle. We said before that repentance is not an option that we have in salvation; it is either repent or perish (Luke 13:5).

Jesus Christ began His preaching career after His temptation by the devil in the wilderness, and before He called the 12 disciples, and the Bible tells us that the first thing He began to preach and to say was, ‘Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand'(Matthew 4:17). Since that time, the principal mission of the church has been to call people to repentance. Why repentance’ It is because there is a human propensity, a human problem that causes us to be drawn into believing things that we should not believe. We are born lost and undone, under the wrath of God; however, that is our normal operating condition, so we don’t realize that we are on a road that will lead us to eternal torment and punishment. We think that we are alright because our mind is a carnal or fleshly mind that is preset to do the things that the flesh wants to do. We are not born spiritual people, and we want nothing to do with God or with His Spirit and the things that are right and best for us.

Some of you reading this lesson may have children and perhaps one or more of them have been weak enough to get involved with drugs of some kind. You can talk and plead and beg until you are blue in the face with the child, but his mind is on drugs and that is where he will remain unless and until someone can change his mind. In our case, we were all on a drug’..oh, no not crack or cocaine, or angel-dust, but a more destructive drug and that was the drug of sin. If you think back most of you had a precious mother and father that prayed for you and tried to teach you not to sin.

You had preachers and teachers and friends who told you about Jesus and what He had done for sinners, and yet your mind was made up until God reached down and began salvation in you. It takes God to change a mind that is set on sin and teaching and preaching and Bible study are all part of that change, it does not happen until God extends His effectual call on the soul of the sinner. God changes our minds and gives us the mind of Christ and we turn away from sin because it has now become hateful and shameful to us. Only then can we realize that we were on the road to hell and eternal condemnation and were perishing. Perish speaks of hell and all that hell holds for those who never change their minds about sin, never truly repent of their sinful nature and all the sins involved in that nature.

Preaching that called for repentance did not begin with Jesus, instead of His cousin John the Baptist who was the forerunner of Christ. John was that voice crying in the wilderness; and what he was crying was ‘Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’. John the Baptist was sent by God to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ; and his message was repent, change your minds about what you believe it is that will save you. Take your eyes off of the world and focus on the one who is coming and who will ‘Baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire’ (Matthew 3:1-2; 3:11).

John the Baptist did not come preaching that we should wash our hands and feet or that we should put sin away from our daily lives, instead, He preached repent (change your minds about what you are) for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. When the religious leaders of the country came to John the baptizer, he challenged them by saying, ‘O, generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come’ Bring forth, therefore, fruits meet for repentance’. Now, John was speaking not to farmers or shepherds, but the religious teachers and leaders of Israel’..and he was telling them that they needed to repent or change their minds. We can compare these men to the Pastor of the First Baptist Church, or the Pastor of the Methodist church or the Bishop of the Pentecostal church, and he was telling them that the only way that anyone would know if they had repented was if they could see a distinct change in their lives. The word ‘meet’ there means worthy of or befitting of having repented (Matthew 3:8).

We have been looking at repentance and how it is absolutely a benchmark of salvation, and how it always must be part of true salvation. Now, the question becomes’.have you repented and changed your mind about God and His Word and His gift of love in His Son Jesus Christ’ Have you really repented and turned away from all sin toward service to God’ Are you now obeying God and what He has commanded you to do and not to do in His Word the Bible’ You cannot serve God with part of your mind and sin with the other. Remember, Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, said that there is no middle ground with Him.

There is no compromise with sin in true Christianity. You are either 100% with Jesus or you are 100% with sin and Satan (Matthew 12:30). Remember, we said before that we cannot simply repent of smoking, drinking, and adultery and the specific sins, although that will come with real repentance. What we must repent before God about is our sin nature. That means we must repent of who we are or have been since our birth. We repent about our nature that loved to sin and believe me you had a nature that was fed by sin, and if you don’t believe that, you are not ready to repent. We have to ask God to put that nature to death and give us a new nature, a nature that loves God and loves to obey all that He has commanded.

I suppose if I could give you an example of real godly repentance, the best I could do would be to point you back to King David, the man after God’s heart 1st Samuel 13:14; 1st Samuel 16:11-13), and his repentance in Psalms 51. I urge you to notice the progressive nature of David’s repentance of sin. He cries out to God first, to ‘Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according to unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions’. Without mentioning his sin’.David appeals to God’s mercy. David didn’t just get up this particular morning and decide to repent.

God had done a work in David’s heart and had prepared him to repent in Spirit and Truth: God had plowed the sinful soil of his soul and now David knew that he was truly ‘The man’ who had committed the sin that Nathan the prophet had spoken about in Second Samuel 12:1-10. His mind had been changed by God and He now wanted God to forgive his sin. Every man ever born on this earth, needs desperately, the mercy of God, and that is the first thing that David asked in repentance account that we find in Psalms 51. Next, David prays and asks God to wash him from his iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. He did not ask for specific sin to be cleansed but from his sin, his sin nature which is the cause of all our sin.

We are not sinners because we sin’.we sin because we are sinners! Verses 3 and 4 inform us that David says ‘For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before. Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight: that Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest, and be clear when Thou judgest’. What we have to acknowledge, is the same thing that David does in that statement; and that is that every sin we commit is first and foremost a sin against our creator, who created us to love and serve and enjoy Him forever. David goes on in the following verses to own his sin and he says that he was a sinner from his conception. David knows that His problem, as well as mine and yours, was not anyone sin, instead, it was that we were born with a nature that loved to sin.

David had been given an insight into his depraved nature and He knew that nothing and no one could fix his problem except God, so, He prays ‘ Purge me with hyssop, and I will be clean: Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.’ David knew about the shedding of the blood of innocent animals was always done by using a hyssop branch, dipped in the blood of that animal, which would ‘cover’ sin for a specific period (1 Year); however, David was asking God to symbolically cleanse His sin which would require that he believed in the blood of Christ. For the truly saved person, the blood of Christ continually cleanses those who are saved by God’s grace.

We find that in First John 1:7, and the tense of the verb cleanses there assures us that it is continually cleansing those who know God through his Son Jesus Christ. David was just as you and I were when God saved us’.we had had enough of sin, and He didn’t want his sin covered for a time, but He wanted God to make him a new creature, and give Him the power to live a righteous life. The godly sorrow that David experienced came from the same source and for the same reason that yours and mine did when we were quickened by God and were allowed to see ourselves concerning our Holy and Just God. David went on to ask God to give him comfort and he asks that God would make him hear joy and gladness’ so that the bones which God had broken may rejoice. David was under such godly sorrow that it seemed that his bones had been broken by the pressure.

He asked God to ‘Hide His face from his sins, and blot out all his iniquities: And to create in him a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within him. David was asking God to come and to do that supernatural thing that only God can do. Just as sinners like you and I were when we were saved by God’s Grace, the mighty King of Israel required that work of God to make him a new creature. Now, we are limited by space to these few verses of this Psalm that records what happened to King David when God allowed him to repent of his sin and be forgiven. I recommend that you read and meditate on every verse of this psalm to see you if you have known repentance. Perhaps you have thought that you were a Christian for years but you find that you never really were this sorry for your sin against God. God will not hold it against you if you truly repent and seek His cleansing for your sin. We cannot fool God, but what we are to do is to seek God on His terms, repent of our sin and serve Him as we obey what He has given us to do.

Until next time,

may God bless and keep you

This is Bro. Bob