FRUITS OF REPENTANCE
The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans )
TEXT: Luke 13:1-5: There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answered and said to them, do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.
Loved ones, all of God’s prophets of old were preachers of repentance. It is still the same today. Preachers still understand that the most difficult aspect of Christianity is found in Acts 17:30. There God commands “all men everywhere to repent.”
It’s hard for some to obey that command.
Why is it so difficult - so hard for us to repent? Well, first of all (as we’ll study later in this lesson), repentance involves both a change of mind and a change of conduct. As human beings, who have been given the power of choice, we don’t change our minds or lives very easily. Therefore, it is a challenge for us to repent.
Secondly, repentance implies one is on the wrong path, and none of us wants to admit we are wrong (Amen?). But loved ones, Jesus still says that unless we repent, we will perish (Luke 13:3).
If God were still giving special miraculous gifts today, we would ask for the power, above everything else, to cause men to repent. But since we don’t have that ability, all we can do is spend a little quality time in God’s word dealing with this difficult matter of repentance.
We want to impress on each soul under the sound of our voice (or reading these words) the need for repentance. Somebody sitting in front of us right now needs to repent. Some that are at home this morning when they should be here in worship need to repent. Our goal is for you to humble yourself today and turn from your sin by turning to God.
Lord willing, we will study this subject of repentance from four different angles: 1) Repentance is individual, inclusive and indispensable. 2) What does repentance involve? 3) How is repentance brought about? 4) What are the results of repentance?
I. REPENTANCE IS INDIVIDUAL, INCLUSIVE and INDISPENSABLE
A. Repentance is Individual. "Except ye repent," said Jesus (Luke 13:3). "Repent and be baptized every one of you" (Acts 2:38), said Peter. Repentance is something that each individual must do for himself. It cannot be done by proxy. No parent can repent for his children. No preacher can repent for the members. Repentance is individual.
No doubt, many times we may overlook our own need of repentance because we think our sins are NOT as great as those committed by others. In the text of Luke 13:1-5, Jesus clearly points out this fact. Some people had informed Him of the terrible sins committed by the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. But Jesus declared, "You need NOT think that these Galileans were sinners above all Galileans. You must repent of your sins or you will perish." Because you think your sins are NOT as great as others does NOT excuse you of your need to repent.
The eighteen upon whom the tower of Siloam fell and killed were offenders, but the Lord implied they were NOT sinners above all those who dwelt in Jerusalem. Some no doubt thought that since they had NOT done as badly as those offenders, that they were all right and did NOT need to repent. But that was a mistake. Jesus declared, "Except you repent, you shall likewise perish."
We sometimes think, “My sins are little sins, but yours are big sins. Your sins are so big (as I view them), and mine are so little, I overlook my need of repentance. I think you are the one who needs to repent and not I.” Friends, the Bible does NOT speak of big sins and little sins as far as man's need of repentance is concerned. No doubt some sins are more grievous than others, and the consequences are therefore different. But the point is that every man must repent of his own sins, regardless of what others' sins might be. Repentance is individual.
B. Repentance is Inclusive. “God commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). There is no exception. We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). A part of the remedy for sin is genuine repentance (Acts 8:22). All men everywhere are to repent. God has commanded it. Repent or perish!
There is NO use in trying to wiggle out of your need to repent. There is little value in seeking escape through consultations with psychiatrists unless you are ready to repent. All must repent. Repentance is inclusive.
C. Repentance is Indispensable. Repentance is a must thing. God has commanded every man to repent. Christ has incorporated repentance in the Great Commission. In Luke 24:47, He commanded that “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations.” Repentance is therefore essential to salvation or the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). Men have no choice. What God has commanded, men must do or perish! Repentance is indispensable.
II. WHAT DOES REPENTANCE INVOLVE?
Since it is imperative that every individual repent of his sins, it is needful that every man know what repentance involves. Since actions are prompted by thoughts and behavior by decisions (Prov. 23:7), the process of repenting must begin in the heart – in the mind. Concerning the heart, three things are involved in genuine repentance: a change of intellect, a change of emotions, and a change of will.
A. Repentance involves a Change of Intellect
Repentance includes knowledge of sins — a conviction of personal sins committed (a change of intellect). When Isaiah was convicted of his sins, he said, "Woe is me ... I am a man of unclean lips" (Isa. 6:5). When Job was convinced that he was a sinner, he said, "I abhor myself and repent" (Job 42:6). When Peter was convicted of his sins, he said, "I am a sinful man" (Luke 5:8). When Paul was convicted of his sins, he called himself "the chief of sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15). We must be aware that death awaits us if we continue in our sins, for "the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23).
We must also be aware that we CANNOT save ourselves by our own goodness. All our good deeds and the acts of morality will NOT rid us of the fact that we have sinned. Repentance includes a change of intellect. Where once we ignored our sins, now we must be acutely aware of them.
B. Repentance involves a Change of Emotions
True repentance includes a change of emotions. There must be a Godly sorrow because we have broken the laws of our loving Father. There is a difference between Godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. Paul wrote, "Godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation; . . . but the sorrow of the world worketh death" (2 Cor. 7:10). Godly sorrow leads to repentance. Worldly sorrow leads to death.
Where once I thought nothing of sinning against my God, after hearing and believing the Gospel, my emotions changed and I’m sorry I ever offended Him. My Godly sorrow has lead me to repent of my sins (daily) [this emotion change will be discussed further below under How Repentance is Brought About].
C. Repentance involves a Change of Will
It is when we come to the will that we find the very heart of repentance. Included in Bible repentance is a whole-hearted determination to forsake sin. God’s prophet said “the unrighteous man must forsake his thoughts” (Isa. 55:7). This attitude to forsake sin will be a day-by-day series of decisions. The Bible sometimes calls this process “dying to self” (Col. 3:4-7). We must love the Lord our God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength. Jesus said, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23). Bible repentance includes a change of the will -- a whole-hearted decision and determination to forsake sin DAILY.
III. HOW IS THIS REPENTANCE BROUGHT ABOUT?
A. The Holy Spirit has something to do with it
It is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring about this repentance. It is the Holy Spirit who reproves or convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:7-11). The Holy Spirit works through the preached and written living Word (Eph. 6:17). As an example, the Bible says “the men of Nineveh…repented at the preaching of Jonah” (Matthew 12:41). Their repentance saved that generation (Jonah 3:1-10). Thus, the Holy Spirit working through the word of God leads us to repent! He’s working on you and me right now.
B. Godly Sorrow leads to Repentance
Emotionally, we have already seen that Godly sorrow works repentance unto salvation… but the sorrow of the world leads to death (2 Cor. 7:10). Not only is there a difference between Godly sorrow and worldly sorrow, but there is a difference between Godly sorrow and repentance. Godly sorrow and repentance are NOT equal. According to Paul, Godly sorrow for sin stands related to repentance as cause to effect. “Godly sorrow” he says, "worketh repentance unto salvation, a repentance which bringeth no regret" (2 Corinthians 7:8-10).
Since Godly sorrow brings men to repentance, this implies that there may be sorrow for sin without repentance (worldly sorrow). This is illustrated in the case of Judas, who experienced the most intense sorrow for sin; but instead of working repentance, it drove him to suicide (Matt. 27:3-5).
Here is another illustration of the difference between Godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. Suppose that while I am visiting your home, I find your wallet and remove from it a $10 bill. Soon the visit is over and I go home. After arriving home I receive a call from you saying you saw me take the $10, and would I please return it. Would I be sorry, you ask. Yes, I would be very sorry, but only sorry I was caught. That is worldly sorrow. The jails and penitentiaries are full of people with worldly sorrow. Yes, they are very sorry, but sorry they were caught.
Now let's think of Godly sorrow. Suppose I had taken the $10 from the wallet; later, after I was home, I begin to think of the evil I had done to my friend. I become very sorry for what I did. Finally my sorrow leads to repentance. I write you a letter explaining that I stole the $10 and am very sorry, return the $10, and beg your forgiveness. That would be Godly sorrow — a sorrow that leads to repentance.
Worldly sorrow results from the negative consequences of sin and may cause one to reform, but there is no salvation in it. An adulterer may break up with his mistress solely to save his marriage; an alcoholic may put down the bottle to save his liver; a politician might clean up his language to be more electable. The unfaithful in attendance may appear for worship once in a while so that she does NOT have to deal with the calls from the brethren that miss her.
These may be beneficial in the short-term; yet, they will NOT save the soul. But when one ceases adultery, alcohol, filthy speech and unfaithfulness in response to learning that these sins grieve God; and that continuance in them will lead to the wrath of God and eternal punishment in hell; that godly sorrow will cause him to repent. His repentance will cause him to obey the Lord or obey the gospel, and then he can be saved eternally.
C. The Goodness of God
The goodness of God leads us to repentance. Romans 2:4 throws light on the subject of how repentance is brought about: "Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?"
The goodness of God includes everything God has done for us: life, friends, loved ones, food, clothing, opportunities for every material progress, and best of all, His only begotten Son. O, how good and patient, kind and loving, our Heavenly Father has been! O, how that goodness should melt our stony hearts. With what earnestness we should all cease our evil ways. The goodness of God leads us to repentance.
D. The thought of Promised Judgment
The thought of promised judgment also leads us to repent. “The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent: inasmuch as he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained," and He has shown unto all men that a judgment is coming, “in that he hath raised Jesus from the dead" (Acts 17:30- 31). Because we have no desire to go to Hell, the thought of the approaching judgment leads us to repentance.
So, we see that this repentance that is so needed by us all, this change of intellect, emotion, and will, is brought about by the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word, Godly sorrow, the goodness of God, and the thought of the approaching judgment.
IV. WHAT ARE THE RESULTS OF REPENTANCE?
Repentance results in a reformation of life. Your thoughts, speech and conduct must change by turning to God. This means that repentance is NOT equal to a reformation of life. Like Godly sorrow is related to repentance as cause to effect, so is repentance related to reformation of life as cause to effect.
SUMMARY: Godly sorrow produces Repentance (Repentance is the fruit of Godly Sorrow – 2 Corinthians 7:8-10). Repentance results in Reformation of life (Reformation of life is the fruit of Repentance – Luke 3:8). Therefore, repentance is both an effect and a cause. It is the effect of Godly sorrow and the cause of a reformation of life.
John the Baptizer said to the impenitent Pharisees and Sadducees who came to him to be baptized, “Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance” (Luke 3:8). In other words he told them to produce fruit that would be consistent with their professed repentance. John here likens repentance unto a tree, and the fruits are the actions of a reformed life. Thus, repentance without a reformation of life is like a tree that bears no fruit.
Restitution when possible is a necessary result of repentance. No one can hope to genuinely repent and further obey the gospel to procure remission of sins, if he has NOT righted all wrongs insofar as it is humanly possible. If one has injured another’s body, reputation or property, it is required that he shall restore as far as is in his power what has been wrongfully taken. However, God does NOT expect the impossible. Of course, it was humanly impossible for King David to restore the life of Uriah, or to restore to Uriah his wife (2 Samuel 11).
Repentance results in or brings a hatred of sin into our life. The Hebrew writer wrote, “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity” (Hebrews 11:8). Jude wrote, "Hating even the garment spotted by the flesh" (Jude 23). Hatred of sin will bring us to the place where we no longer want to live in sin. There is NOT one verse of Scripture that indicates that we can be a Christian and yet live any kind of life we want. We have the warning from Christ that He will NOT receive us into His kingdom until we are ready to give up all — until we are ready to turn from all sin in our lives.
Halfway repentance is NO repentance at all! We cannot say, “I'll give up some of my sins, and hang on to others. I’ll give up bad language, but I’ll NOT stop gambling my God given money away.” Jesus demands one hundred per cent surrender; and when that is accomplished (when we are determined to renounce and forsake sin and yield all to Christ), we have gone a long way towards finding peace with God.
Another result of repentance is joy in heaven. After telling the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son, Jesus emphasized the point of all three by saying, "I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth" (Luke 15:10).
By way of summary, repentance is individual, inclusive and indispensable. It is a change of intellect, emotion and will. It is brought about by the work of the Holy Spirit, a Godly sorrow, the goodness of God and the thought of the approaching judgment. Repentance results in reformation of life, hatred of sin and joy in the presence of God and His angels.
Before giving you another opportunity to come forward repenting of your sin, let it be understood that repentance is NOT forgiveness. Many honest people have believed that because they have repented of their sins, they were forgiven of their sins. This is NOT necessarily true. Repentance is a change of a person's own heart. Forgiveness is something that takes place in the mind of him who was offended.
Remember the illustration about the $10: I stole it, thus offending you. I repented of my offense and asked for your forgiveness. You may or may NOT forgive me, as you see fit. So repentance is NOT forgiveness. Man has sinned against God. He therefore must repent and seek God's forgiveness. So please remember that repentance is NOT forgiveness, but it is an indispensable condition of forgiveness.
Where are you this morning? For the person that is still lost in sin, repentance will lead you to confess before men that Christ is God's Son, and that you wish Him to be your Savior. Repentance will lead you to be baptized for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:38). We therefore are pleading with you this morning to NOT stubbornly sit through another invitation to repent and obey God. Come forward and make a public change in your life.
If you are already a child of God, repentance will bring you back into fellowship with God. Your sins have separated you from your God and hid His face from you (Isa. 59:2). However, the blood of Jesus reconciles (or brings us back) to God. When you as a Christian confess and repent of your sins, the blood of Jesus continues to wash those sins away (James 5:16; 1 John 1:7).
The lesson is yours.