Repentance is not a feeling. In reality, it’s easy to have an emotional experience rather than a genuine repentance which leads to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Repentance is not even a conviction of sin. What do you mean?
You can be convicted but refuse to repent. You may even read your Bible and cry to God a great deal, and yet never repent. Repenting is not even fasting. A man may fast for weeks and months and years, and yet not repent of one sin. Neither is it remorse.
For godly grief and the pain God is permitted to direct, produce a repentance that leads and contributes to salvation and deliverance from evil, and it never brings regret; but worldly grief or remorse (the hopeless sorrow that is characteristic of the pagan world) is deadly [breeding and ending in death]. (2 Corinthians 7:10 AMP)
Both Peter and Judas were sorry for denying and betraying Jesus, but Judas didn’t have the foundation that Peter had. Judas had a terrible remorse to the point of hanging himself; but that was not repentance. He was remorseful and knew he had sinned. But he did not know Christ. He didn’t have a personal knowledge and understanding of the magnitude of Whom he had betrayed.
Judas said, “I have betrayed innocent blood.”If he had known the Christ the Son of Living God as Simon Peter did, he would have gone back to Him and repented, knowing its the goodness of the Lord that leads to salvation.
Peter denied his Lord three times, and then the Lord looked upon him and that look broke Peter’s heart. The terrible sin he had committed and the depth to which he had fallen suddenly opened up before him. Then, Peter, the Bible according to the Gospel of Luke tells us, went out and and wept bitterly, that is, with painfully moving grief. (Luke 22:62)
Another example is that of Saul and David. When Saul sinned by disobeying the Lord’s commandments, he said to Samuel, “I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now, I pray you, pardon my sin and go back with me, that I may worship the Lord.” (1 Samuel 15:24-25)
Instead of fearing the Lord and repenting before Him, Saul feared the people and he resorted to pleading for forgiveness from Samuel. Saul was more concerned about what the people would think of him than he was about his relationship with the Lord. His heart was not truly repentant or if he did truly love the Lord, he should have repented and deeply felt the need for God’s mercy and forgiveness.
Later when he was persecuting David, he apologized and said to David, “I have sinned, Return, my son David, for I will do you no harm, because my life was precious in your eyes this day.” (1 Samuel 26:21) But in all probability, again Saul didn’t mean what he said, and when he heard where David went, he sent soldiers after him. So David had to make another escape.
With regards to David, when the Prophet Nathan confronted his multiple sin of coveting, theft, adultery, and murder in his affair with Uriah’s wife Bathsheba, David’s response was confessing his guilt:
I have sinned against the Lord (not against Nathan) And Nathan said to David, The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord and given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child that is born to you shall surely die. (2 Samuel 12:13-14 AMP)
David’s repentance allowed Nathan to comfort him with the reality of God’s forgiveness and at the same time remind him of the painful consequences his sin would bring.
Where your heart has changed, the life and actions will be changed. This brings indignation of sin, at yourself, at the devil and his schemes. It brings a fear of watchfulness, and a cautious fear of sin. You now get a desire to be reconciled with God.
In the process you develop a zeal for service. If at all you deplore your past wickedness like I do, you will truly repent and you will see sin as detestable, vile, and you will hate it in your own heart. Yet a person may see sin to be abominable and still love it.
One of the happy fruits of true repentance are when you truly repent, you wholeheartedly abhor and renounce every kind of sin. This is why some of us break with tears of sorrow when we see sin in its true nature. When you are a true Christian and you had lost yourself among many vanities and you view your sins in relation to the holiness of God, you will have to weep and pour out a flood of tears over your sins.
Where repentance is genuine, the desire to sin again will disappear. So repentance must be a change of mind that produces a change of conduct and which ends in salvation. Deep humility before God, hatred of all sin, with faith in Christ, a new heart and a new life, make repentance unto salvation.
Martin Luther, the great reformer is quoted to have said,
When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ says repent, He means that the whole life of believers on earth should be a constant and perpetual repentance. Repentance–i.e., true repentance–endures as long as a man is displeased with himself. The desire of self-justification is the cause of all the distresses of the heart.
The supreme crisis of every human life comes at the moment when the Holy Spirit convicts you to repentance. When you accept that conviction, it leads you to saving faith and eternal life.
When you reject it, you are left to continue to your way to the grave and the unending darkness of eternity separated from God’s love. The Scriptures make it clear that even in this life it is possible for a man or woman to come to a point where the Spirit of God will never again draw you to repentance, and where all hope is lost before you enter eternity.
In the book of Luke, there arrived some people who informed Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And He replied by saying to them:
Do you think that these Galileans were greater sinners than all the other Galileans because they have suffered in this way? I tell you, No; but unless you repent (change your mind for the better and heartily amend your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins), you will all likewise perish and be lost eternally.
Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them—do you think that they were more guilty offenders (debtors) than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No; but unless you repent (change your mind for the better and heartily amend your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins), you will all likewise perish and be lost eternally. (Luke 13:1-5 AMP)
These men who had died in the very act of performing a religious rite had been executed by order of the Roman governor, and their blood had been mixed on the temple floor with that of their sacrifices. Yet, Jesus tells us that these men perished and went to a lost eternity. Even their religious act of sacrifice in the temple could not save their souls. Why? Because it was not based on true repentance.
The same can happen to any of us today. None of our religious activities in the church or outside of it can be any substitute for true repentance. Without such abhorrence of past sins, Christ Himself said, you will all likewise perish and be lost eternally.
Christ said He “came not call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Mark 2:17) We are all sinners. Therefore the call to repent is addressed to all of us. “God commands all men everywhere to repent.” (Acts 17:30) Each of us has to take our place in the dust at the Savior’s feet, and acknowledge our guilt.
We are to say like the publican of old, “Lord be merciful to me a sinner!” (Luke 18:13) The Lord then promises to pardon and bless you. He will even justify you and reckon you as righteous, by virtue of the righteousness of Him who bore your and my sins in His body on the Cross. Alleluia
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