Discourse on Repentance, pt. 1: Confession/Redemption
What is repentance? I know we’ve all heard the term at least in passing. Since the Lord elaborates on it in many places throughout the entire Bible, I wonder why it seems to be so overlooked in the pulpit in the Church in America as a whole. Is it merely feeling sorry for doing wrong, or is it much more? Furthermore, why do we need to repent? One reason is the high calling the Lord places on our lives.
I. God’s Measuring Rod
A. “Be holy, as I am holy”
1. Lev. 19:2 (“Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.'”)
2. 1 Pet. 1:14-16 (“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is
written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.'”)
“Be holy, as I am holy.” “Be [absolutely perfect], as I am [absolutely perfect].” “Be [set apart] as I am [set apart].” God is perfect, wholly other, and absolutely blameless, and He calls us to be the same. The Lord isn’t just talking about holiness in deed; He is referring to complete righteousness in thought and speech, as well as action. If this seems impossible to fulfill, that is because it is. We in our natural state are incapable of anything BUT sinning, as it has been ever since we rebelled against God’s will in the garden, and the Lord is very clear that sin has severe consequences.
II. Our Need for Repentance
A. Ezek. 18:4 (“Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die.”)
B. Deut. 24:16 (“Parents are not to be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their parents; each will die for their own sin.”) (cf. 2 Kin. 14:6, 2 Chr. 25:4)
C. 1 Sam. 2:25 (“If one person sins against another, God may mediate for the offender; but if anyone sins against the LORD, who will intercede for them?…”)
D. Ps. 14:1-3 (“The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good. The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.”) (cf. Ps. 53:1-3, Rom. 3:10-18)
E. Prov. 10:16 (“The wages of the righteous is life, but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.”) (cf. Rom. 6:23)
F. Rom. 3:23 (“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”)
“There is none righteous. No not one.” “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” With sentences like these placed upon our heads, there is not much hope for us on our own. “The wages of sin is death.” The payment our sin earns is death – separation from God Himself for all of eternity. Keeping with His holiness and righteousness, He is also absolutely just, and must carry out the appropriate sentence on us.
III. God’s Response
A. Ps. 7:11- (“God is a righteous judge, and a God who has indignation every day. If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword; He has bent His bow and made it ready. He has also prepared for Himself deadly weapons; He makes His arrows fiery shafts.”)
B. Ps. 9:7-8 (“But the LORD abides forever; He has established His throne for judgment, and He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity.”) (cf. Ps. 98:9)
Our sin puts us at odds with God and makes us His enemies. We are not just opponents or rivals (We’re nowhere near God’s league anyway); if we could, we would put our hands around God’s neck throttle Him. We are opposed to everything God is and stands for, and without repentence, we are doomed to face God’s wrath. This is not the end of the story, however. While righteous and just, the Lord is also infinitely merciful and patient with us and desires us to repent (Ezek. 18:23, 32; 2 Pet. 3:9). The wages of sin is indeed death, “but the GIFT of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom. 6:23)” While we were still chained to our sins and sinful nature, while we were still ENEMIES of God, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:6-8). It is written:
C. Luke 5:32 (“I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”)
D. Rom. 3:24-26 (“…being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in
the forbearance of God, He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”)
To prove Himself just, God requires death as a consequence of sin. To prove Himself merciful and patient, He provided an acceptable sacrifice through His own Son.
E. Rom. 5:19 (“For just as through the disobedience of the one man, the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one Man, the many will be made righteous”)
F. Rom. 8:1-4 (“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”)
G. 1 Cor. 15:22 (“For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”)
H. 1 Pet. 3:18 (“For Christ also died for sins, once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;”)
I. 1 John 1:5-9 (“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”)
In response to such mercy, the least we can do is offer our lives to the One Who paid the ultimate price for our sin. Through Christ, we are viewed as righteous in God’s sight, and we can spend eternity with Him. When we accept Him as Lord, He forgives us and begins purifying and sanctifying us, but it’s not an overnight thing. As humans, we can still be tempted and often fall back into our old sinful habits (and sometimes develop new ones).
God’s call to “be holy as He is” has not changed, nor has the penalty for sinfulness. What has changed is that we now have a choice not to sin, and the ability to turn away from what so easily ensnares us. Repentance IS that turning away from our sin and to God. If we hope to live a holy life, set apart to God, repentance is absolutely necessary, for our sin has no place in the Kingdom of God. I don’t know what you struggle with, but I don’t need to. All I need to know is what God requires of us. Let us now repent before the Lord. Please join me in this prayer:
“Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry, and we humbly repent. For the sake of Your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in Your will and walk in Your ways to the glory of Your Name. Amen.“