Thursday, February 29, 2024




1.   The Heart of Biblical Repentance

2.   True and False Repentance

3.  Repentance -  A New Testament Overview

4.  Biblical  Repentance is a  Spiritual Medicine 

We have been considering Psalm 51 which is the reflection of a broken and contrite man, who when overwhelmed by His sin and guilt, turns to God with a broken and contrite heart and he finds his peace with God once more.  The doctrine of repentance is not well understood nor well applied in our Moralistic, Therapeutic, Deistic age. The preoccupation with user friendliness, pandering to people’s felt needs, the prevalence of pop psychology in counselling and preaching have displaced the doctrine of repentance.   We know this, since the fruit of repentance are very often absent from our churches. Our churches have many people who continue to live with unforgiveness and bitterness – all against the dictates of God’s Word. Our churches have people who love themselves, their families, their pleasures   more than God. Our churches are filled with people who have no regard for the principle of 7th day worship and rest in the Lord. Our churches are filled with broken families in which fathers and mothers are frequently cursed and despised. Our churches have people who are filled with murderous thoughts (“I wish you were dead!”). Our churches have people who lead secret lives in adulterous relationships and pornographic obsessions.  There are even some that steal. There are others that use their mouths to give false testimonies, gossip and slander against their neighbours. There are yet others that covet their neighbours house, spouses and things.   The root of sin is like weeds that spread below the soil and which pop up here and there, even reinforcing one another. Thus, envy and ambition, lust, pride, anger, greed, slothfulness, reinforce one another and they constantly require that we weed out those sins. That is where we need to practise a habit of daily watchfulness and to sit regularly under the Word of God and to realize again and again, “I have some repenting to do.”

These are no small issues. It is on account of these things that the wrath of a just and holy God, “… is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be made known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them (Rom. 1:18, 19).   It is on account of these things that the Holy Spirit is grieved in our churches. It is on account of these things that God has not blessed us   as families, as churches and as a nation (See 2 Chron. 7:14).   The evidence of countless broken homes, the prevalence of man- centred churches, and false religions   dotting our religious landscapes, the ineffective governance of our nations and the divisive spirit within our political ranks is rife.  Nothing is more needed right now than a spirit of true, heartfelt, humble and godly repentance.

We say that as many modern people think that the concept of repentance is an Old Testament concept. Some of you may even have listened to the list of modern   trespasses against the 10 commandments, and you, being influenced by an antinomian worldview, have thought to yourself – well that’s the narrow minded, overly strict, legalistic Old Testament. You pride yourself in being a grace driven man or woman. You pride yourself in being a NT Christian, having left the law of God behind. You think that the OT God is the angry, ‘repent or perish’   God, whereas the New Testament God is the God of mercy and love. And because of that  you take away the need for ongoing repentance, but in reality you are once beginning to heap up  sins  that   will call down the wrath of God!

What I want to do now is to simply illustrate from the Scriptures that repentance continues to be a major theme in the New Testament! And I want to remind you that our Lord Jesus did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfil the law (Matt. 5:17). The law was given by God to regulate sin. The 10 commandments deal with the heart of our sinful behaviour, and it remains God’s Word to us. We must take seriously the fact that trespassing the law   without repentance is equally offensive under the NT as it was under the OT.  It must form a part of our daily thinking; it must form part of our daily personal prayer (which includes repentance) -  otherwise  we may  well live under the bondage of deceit  (Jer.  17:9) and think that it is well with our soul, when in fact it isn’t. We must take seriously the fact that Christian growth is stunted where repenting from the heart has stopped.

Two words used in the New Testament help us understand the full meaning of repentance in the Bible.

1.      metamelomai, (meta “after” + melo “to care for”) which denotes a change of mind that produces regret or even remorse for wrongs done, but not necessarily a change of heart and action cf.  Matt. 27:3 describing the guilt Judas felt over betraying Jesus; In 2 Cor. 7:8 Paul uses this word to express regret not over the contents but regret that he had grieved the Corinthians with a strongly worded letter.

2.      metanoeo, (meta & nous - mind) means “to change one’s mind and purpose, as the result of after knowledge.” This verb and its related noun, metanoia, is used most often in the NT to denote true biblical repentance, which is characterized by four elements:

a.      It involves a sense of awareness of one’s own guilt, sinfulness, and helplessness.

b.      It takes hold of God’s mercy, through the gospel, in Jesus Christ.

c.       It involves a change of attitude and action regarding sin. The direction is away from sin and towards God.

d.      It results in a real desire for holy living, a walking with God in obedience to His commands (2 Timothy 2:19–22; 1 Peter 1:16).


·       John the Baptist – the forerunner of Jesus - his ministry was characterized by a consistent call to repentance (Matt 3:2, 8, 11).  Mark and Luke say that he preached “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins“  (Mk. 1:4 ; Lk. 3:3 also 13:24; 19:4 ) John  the Baptist insisted that those  that came to confess their  sin  in repentance  “ should produce fruit in keeping with  repentance“ (Lk.  3:8)             

·       The first sermon that Christ preached, and the first word that is recorded of His sermon was Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand …” (Matt. 4:17). Jesus came into a broken, confused, sin-soaked world.  His mission was to call that generation of sinners (and every subsequent generation) to repentance. He was speaking to those that felt the weight of their sin before a holy God and who were looking for a way out: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance(Luke 5:32). His call to repent goes out to all people: “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13:5). He reminds us of the high standard of holiness: “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees…” (Matt.  5:20) indicating that we cannot afford to lead an unexamined life.  In His farewell message to the disciples, Jesus commanded that they take His message of repentance and faith to all the nations (Luke 24:47). And when He was leaving to ascend to heaven in Lk.24:47, His last words to His disciples were that, repentance and forgiveness should be proclaimed in His name to all nations“.  The doctrine of repentance is a weighty subject in Jesus’ teaching and preaching (see Sermon on the Mount). And the consequences of ignoring that teaching are serious – see Matthew 7.  Eternal Hell awaits the unrepentant sinner!

·        The apostles of Christ in general continued to preach the necessity of repentance In Mk. 6:12 we find that Jesus sent His 12 apostles out, and we read, “So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent.”

·       Zacchaeus repented by declaring that half of his property would go to the poor, and all illegally gained money would be restored fourfold (Lk. 19:8)

·        When Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, the crowd was convicted of their sin, and asked, “Brothers, what shall we do?“,  Peter’s immediate answer was  “repent and be baptized every one of you  in the Name of Jesus Christ  for the forgiveness of your sins … “  (Acts 2:38).  Peter also illustrates the importance and urgency of repentance in 2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

·       Paul said to the  Athenians,   God  now commands all people  everywhere ( i.e. the whole world)  to repent  - Acts  17:30,31.  When Paul  faces  King Agrippa  at his trial, needing to defend himself  from the accusation of the Jews,  he not only  shares his testimony of conversion (Acts 26: 1-18), but he loses no time to  inform Agrippa that  he preached the gospel  to  all  “that they should repent and turn to God , performing  deeds in keeping  with their repentance.”  (Acts 26:20). Those that had formerly   practised magic arts in Ephesus brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all (Acts 19:19)

·       The apostle John rarely uses the word “repentance“, but he frequently  uses the language of repentance. The most famous text in John’s gospel (Jn 3:16) is followed by 3:18 which tells us what will happen to sinners who do not turn to Christ in humble repentance, ”…whoever does not believe stands condemned already, because he has not believed in the Name of the only Son of God.”  Likewise, in his first letter he makes it clear that   a non-repentant lifestyle means that you are still in darkness (1 Jn.2:9,11).  “Whoever makes a practice of sinning (i.e. unrepentant behaviour) is of the devil.”  (1 Jn. 3:8). And in the Revelation of John we see in John 2 &3 that the churches that have deviated from their calling are called to repent. We also see how unrepentant mankind …  “those whose name was not found written in the book of life (i.e. not having repented of their sin), he was thrown into the fire.” (Rev.20:15)

Repentance is a major theme in the NT. And this remains a major truth about us:  we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (See Rom 3:10ff). All of us are guilty. All of us need to be repenting repenters. Every act of repentance is a separate act and a distinctly moral effort, perhaps a major and costly one. Repenting is never a pleasure. It will continue as long as life lasts[1]. The act of leading a repenting life must become a reality, and not mere words. It is a difficult task. But it is necessary.  We would rather have one eye and one arm than miss heaven.  

[1] Jim Packer:  A Passion for Holiness, p. 122

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  OUTLINE 1.  The Heart of Biblical Repentance 2. True and False Repentance 3. Repentance -  A New Testament Overview 4. Biblical  Repentanc...