The Apple Of God's Eye

December 2, 2009

What Is Real Godly Repentance?

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What does religion have to do with the way you live? Most people would tell you: “Nothing!” In a period of our history when we are witnessing a great falling away of  the masses from organized religion, what remains  is ineffective and irrelevant. The distance between professed faith and daily performance is astronomical.

The problem lies with the people themselves. Jesus Christ said — in speaking of the religious leaders and people of His day: “… This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mark 7:6-7). People attend evangelistic campaigns, talk of all uniting in the brotherhood of Christianity. But no one seems to want to live the way Jesus Christ commanded. The world-wide interest in religion is simply a facade.

The problem is that we haven’t, as nations, and all too frequently even as individual persons, deeply repented. The dictionary definition of repentance is: “To feel self-reproach, compunction, or contrition for past conduct, to feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one’s life for the better” (“The American College Dictionary“). That sounds good, but in practice, it seldom produces real change, as it merely is being sorry for an action.

The Bible definition means all of that and much more!

Godly repentance means to stop sinning, to turn and go the other way — to change your way of life! It s not always easy to say, “I’m sorry.” But it s even harder to mean it. Godly repentance has to come from the heart.

Even in Christianity, people all too often make an outward show of returning to God or repenting, but they haven’t done it with their hearts! It is the outward, superficial, worldly repentance with no real sincerity or deep feeling.

Now at this point, many will disagree with me. but let me ask, what is it you repent of or feel sorrow for? To some it is one thing and to others — from another society or religion — it is something altogether different. but what does God say actually constitutes sin? What would God have you repent of? Here’s the Biblical answer:

“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law,” (I John 3:4). Notice it is the breaking of the laws of God, not human customs. Any time you break or disobey even one of the holy, righteous commandments of God, you have sinned. You need to repent. No one is excluded.

No man, woman or child has ever lived who hasn’t disobeyed and broken God’s law (Rom. 3:10, 23). Therefore, every one – including myself –  needs to repent deeply and bitterly and turn TO GOD for forgiveness. Everyone needs to keep God’s commandments — all His commandments — with zeal. For “He that saith, I know him {I am a Christian}, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (I John 2:4).

How Repentance Starts

There are definite steps to take if you sincerely desire to repent and serve God. Your Bible names dozens of men who are going to be in the Kingdom of God, such as David, Daniel and other of the prophets of God. They all had one essential thing in common. As soon as they realized God was displeased with them or their nation’s ways, they set out to correct it.

But how can you know when the Father in Heaven is displeased? Often He begins to deal with us and bring us to repentance through chastening. He may allow financial problems, family problems, sickness, or other serious situations to develop in our lives which will force us to realize our need of Him.

These trials are proof of the Father’s love for each one of us. Notice Hebrews 12:6-8. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?”

Requirements In Seeking God

And so we turn to God with these instructions of II Chronicles 7:12-14:

“And the Eternal appeared to Solomon by night and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall HUMBLE THEMSELVES, and PRAY, and SEEK MY FACE, and TURN FROM THEIR WICKED WAYS; then will I hear from heaven, and will FORGIVE THEIR SIN, and will heal their land.”

The steps are so simple, clear and plain.

What does it mean to humble yourself? How do you go about it? David explains in Psalm 35:13: “But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.” Fasting shows our earnestness and sincerity in seeking God and adds impetus to the prayers we raise to Him.

Turn From Own Ways

People outwardly follow many of these steps and yet fall short in the final, most important steps — turning from their evil ways. That’s why it is so hard to distinguish between the believer and the non-believer. That is why the “distance between our professed faith and our daily performance is astronomical.” So many people of this day and age profess to be repentant — they still live in their sinful ways. So, finally, one of the most important of all the steps in coming to true repentance is to stop sinning! Millions claim membership in a church. They loudly proclaim their belief in Jesus Christ. They testify for Christ, but the fruit is not there.

All too often our repentance is the worldly repentance spoken of in II Corinthians 7:10. What we really need to come to see and understand is the kind of repentance God speaks of. “Therefore also now, saith the Eternal, Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn to the Eternal your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil”. (Joel 2:12-13).

God doesn’t just want your name on the membership rolls of some church. What God wants is to sincere acknowledgement of sins and asking forgiveness. God wants you to quit breaking His laws and then obey them..

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