A Few Thoughts On Repentance

repent

“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
–Matthew 4:17

Received this past weekend: a sincere-sounding comment on repentance.

Which caused some investigation and provided an opportunity to list a few thoughts on the subject.

The comment?

“…I would question your definition of repentance based on the teachings of A W Tozer and others who seem to take it more seriously and necessary for the “New Birth”. I pray you that you might take it before the Lord in prayer. Blessings to you. “

This prompted a little research into A.W. Tozer–who was not completely unfamiliar to this writer.  Tozer was investigated years ago and, it was recalled,  the verdict (based on his writings and the Bible) was that he was a smiling wolf who pretended to be saved.  What the man thought about repentance was unknown.

1- First off, a few quotes of A.W. Tozer about repentance were located.

“Repentance isn’t only sorrow for past sins, it’s also a determination to now do the will of God as He reveals it to us.”

“Do not hurry to get it [repentance] over with. Hasty repentance means shallow spiritual experience and lack of certainty in the whole life. Let godly sorrow do her healing work. Until we allow the consciousness of sin to wound us, we will never develop a fear of evil. It is our wretched habit of tolerating sin that keeps us in our half-dead condition.”

“God cannot do our repenting for us. In our efforts to magnify grace we have so preached the truth as to convey the impression that repentance is a work of God. This is a grave mistake, and one which is taking a frightful toll among Christians everywhere. God has commanded all men to repent. It is a work which only they can do. It is morally impossible for one person to repent for another. Even Christ could not do this. He could die for us, but He cannot do our repenting for

“Let us think of a Christian believer in whose life the twin wonders of repentance and the new birth have been wrought. He is now living according to the will of God as he understands it from the written Word. Of such a one it may be said that every act of his life is or can be as truly sacred as prayer or baptism or the Lord’s Supper. To say this is not to bring all acts down to one dead level; it is rather to lift every act up into a living kingdom and turn the whole of life into a sacrament.”

There were other A.W. Tozer quotes concerning repentance, but these four are a representative sample.

2- THEN, it was determined what our personal view of repentance was.

Simply put, repentance is a “change of direction;” “a change of mind.”

Someone who repents is someone who has changed their direction and mind about SIN.  They no longer view SIN as something desirable to run to and embrace.  They view SIN as something crooked and low, to be avoided whenever possible.

NOW, this does NOT mean–and the Bible confirms–that a person who has repented and experienced the new birth will cease from committing acts abhorrent to God.  God’s Word declares that physical persecution will cause a person to cease from sinning, NOT repentance.

“Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin”
–1PETER 4:1

Those who claim they no longer sin because they have repented and experienced the new birth are deceived: they are telling their listeners a story of what they THINK repentance is.

As the apostle John wrote

“If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
–1JOHN 1:6-10

Notice John does not say the believer will no longer sin. No, John says the believer will, on occasion, commit sin. However, God, through the confession of the believer, will forgive and cleanse the believer of that sin.

The one repenting STILL is encased in a body made from dust; dirt.  He will, on occasion, still sin.

HOWEVER, God no longer imputes (or charges) that person for that sinful behavior.

“Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.”
–Romans 4:8-9

“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.”
–Psalm 32:1-2

A person who has repented now FIGHTS against his SIN–instead of excitedly looking for opportunities to engage in such behavior.

And God respects those who have repented by not holding them guilty when the do stumble and fall (providing they confess their sin).

3- From his writings, it is clear repentance was something A.W. Tozer did NOT understand, having no experience with actual repentance.

A. W. Tozer was also confused about conflating repentance with sorrow.

It has lately been noticed HOW MANY mis-use the term “repent” or “repentance.”

This is particularly true of the church folk, who have been religiously misled on the matter.

One hears a great many declare that they want to (or have already done so) “repent of their sins.”  A great many pulpit poachers declare that they want the congregation to “repent of their sins.”

OR, the question will be REPEATEDLY asked, “Have you repented of your sins?

“You need to repent of your sins.  Right now!”

This CONFUSES “repentance” with “penance” (something the Catholic Church puts a great deal of stock in).
Repentance

4- Repentance is one of those things most find easy to talk about.

Actually repenting is not so easy and is a different story altogether.

5- Penance.

One of the definitions of PENANCE is

A voluntary self-imposed punishment for a sinful act or wrongdoing. It may be intended to serve as reparation for the act.

Which raised the question, “Can a man somehow pay–through the self-punishment of penance–for a SIN which is committed AGAINST God Himself?”

It is little surprise that the world values penance: it being an act which is SELF-centered.

6- A man who repents and experiences the “new spiritual birth”  MAY experience sorrow for past sins, but the overwhelming sense is NOT sorrow.

It is joy: joy that God has accepted the one repenting into the kingdom of heaven and bestowed grace upon that person in the form of a spiritual rebirth,  with the person repenting now bound for heaven.

Joy that God extended his mercy (grace) to the former unbeliever.

Joy, NOT sorrow.  And perhaps a bit of wonderment, such as “Why me?

“Let us think of a Christian believer in whose life the twin wonders of repentance and the new birth have been wrought…Of such a one it may be said that every act of his life is or can be as truly sacred as prayer or baptism or the Lord’s Supper.”

This is flowery fiction.

ANYONE who has experienced the new birth KNOWS that “every act of his life is or can be truly sacred as prayer or baptism or the Lord’s Supper”  is NOT true.

7- Though the believer may have God’s Holy Spirit residing within him, as long as he lives this probationary period we call LIFE, he STILL has the difficulty of living in a body of sin made of dirt.

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”

So, in case there was any confusion about repentance on the reader’s part, this piece is FYI.

MORE: Repentance

DOES the reader believe that the usual outpouring of emotion–likely featuring much crying and a claim that the person knows the exact time he was reborn–is a sign of true repentance?

DOES the reader expect the stories of sorrow and remorse (because stories of sorrow and remorse are so common) when a person claims to have repented?

It is not YET too late: there is still time to change direction (repent), place your faith (hope) for the future entirely on Jesus Christ and enter the kingdom of heaven.

DOES the reader believe he is saved?

Make Your Calling and Election Sure: End Times Survival

DOES the reader believe he is NOT saved?

Time is Running Out: Today is the Day of Salvation

THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST

“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. ”
1 Corinthians 15:1-8

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
-–Romans 1:16

MORE: Eternal Salvation Through Jesus Christ: Salvation Messages from End Times Prophecy Report

[Portions of this piece appeared originally in End Times Prophecy Headlines: December 21, 2020.]

MORE: Eternal Salvation Through Jesus Christ: Salvation Messages from End Times Prophecy Report

MORE: Repent

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by Jeremiah Jameson
–with Mondo Frazier

image: Photo by Alex Radelich from Pexels.com

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Author: Jeremiah J Jameson

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