By Dr Cecil Stewart OBE
Second study in the Basic Truth Series
REPENTANCE & FORGIVENESS
Everybody needs to be forgiven, not only because of the sins we have committed but also due to the fact that we were born in sin.
“All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” James 1:15 “Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” Also see Proverbs 14:34, Romans 3:23 and Ephesians 8:9
Once we acknowledge these facts and come to a place of repentance, we can then receive
God’s forgiveness and freedom from all the fetors and fears of the past through faith in what Jesus has done on our behalf on the cross.
Colossians 1:13-14 “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood,["http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Colossians1:13-14;&version=50;" \l "fen-NKJV-29474a#fen-NKJV-29474a" \o "See footnote a" a] the forgiveness of sins.” Also see Ephesians 1:7, Hebrews 9:12 & I Peter 1:18. Remember, our forgiveness and freedom is not based on our god works orhow we feel but on the fact of our redemption. 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 says, “But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— 31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.” We do not have to wait for a feeling of freedom; we are already free in Christ Jesus. But there are times when we need to use our authority and command Satan to take his hands off our lives see Luke 10:19. For once we repent and receive Jesus; we belong to him because He is our Saviour and Lord Romans 10:9-10. Our Heavenly Father reaches out to the whole world with forgiveness. However, all of us must repent and turn away from our sins in order to receive forgiveness. Repentance is the first word of the gospel. See Matthew 3:1-8.
Mark 1:14-15 “.Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.’” The apostles preached repentance. Mark 6:12-13 says, “So they went out and preached that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them.” Paul’s message after he received a personal revelation of Jesus on the Damascus road was repentance. Acts 20:21 says, “testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”
He shares his personal testimony and the way he was called to bring others to repentance just as we are. See Acts 26:16-18.
We can see from these examples, the importance God places on repentance. It is the first step in a believer’s life; without true repentance, our Christian lives would be unstable. We must understand repentance fully and let it work in us. When the term repentance is used people have several ideas about it. But we need to understand it is not just conviction of sin, conviction precedes repentance but not all people convicted by the Holy Spirit will respond and repent. It is not worldly sorrow, remorse or regret as this does not necessarily lead to repentance.
2 Corinthians 7:10 “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” It is not sorrow for being caught doing something wrong, Godly sorrow brings repentance to Salvation. Many are sorry for what they have done but never get to the point of repentance with a subsequent change in their lives. It is not reformation - turning over a new leaf like a new year’s resolution. Real repentance produces a change of mind, heart and direction. It is an act of the will that turns the whole man to God.
An example of this is seen in Matthew 21:28-32, when the son who said he would not do his father’s Will, repented and went and did what he was asked. It is something that should affect our spirit, soul and body; it is a complete turnaround and an absolute change of direction. True repentance is brought about by conviction of the Holy Spirit. John 16:8-11 “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”
Colossians 1:21-23 shows that God wants us to be reconciled to Him and no longer alienated as the children of wrath: “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister..”
Paul shows in Romans 1:29-32 the sad state that men were, and are in, without God: “being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality,["http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%201:29-32%20;&version=50;" \l "fen-NKJV-27954a#fen-NKJV-27954a" \o "See footnote a" a] wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving,["http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%201:29-32%20;&version=50;" \l "fen-NKJV-27956b#fen-NKJV-27956b" \o "See footnote b" b] unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”
True repentance will produce the following evidence:
Godly sorrow for sin
2 Corinthians 7:9 “Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.”
Repentance brings us to confession of sins
See 1 John 1:6-9. As we obey this, we come to an assurance of forgiveness.
Forsaking our sin
Proverbs 28:13 “13 He who covers his sins will not prosper,
But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” Isaiah 55:6 “Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.”
Hatred of sin
See Ezekiel 36:31-33 Therefore, we must reject what God rejects and accept what God accepts.
Put things right, make restitution
Luke 19:8-10 Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, ‘This day is salvation come to this house, for so much as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.’”
Zacchaeus had heard about Jesus but had never had an encounter before this. Once he did, he brought forth the fruits of repentance. It is not just what we say but evidence of repentance that counts. We need to strongly consider if there are any things that we need to make repentance for as zaccheaus did.
Living in the revelation of the preceding passages will cause us to show the fruit of repentance and enable us to live in the assurance of forgiveness.