Last night Norma Jean and I visited the Lenexa church and heard Bruce Reeves preach on Radical Repentance. His lesson planted a seed for some thoughts for today’s post.
The word repent literally means “to perceive afterwards.” It is a change of mind that results in a change of life. Repentance is fundamental in primary obedience. When the Jews who crucified Christ were convicted by Peter’s sermon they asked, What shall we do?” Peter’s first word was, “Repent.” (Ax 2:38)
Repentance is necessary for a Christian who sins. And we all do. When the Samaritan, Simon sinned, Philip commanded, “Repent of your wickedness!” (Ax 8:22).
To the church at Ephesus that had left its first love, the apostle John commanded them to “Repent.” (Rev. 2:5).
Repentance is more than just a casual comment, “if I have sinned.” It’s more than embarrassment, regret, or even an acknowledge of wrong doing. It involves a radical change of mind. Of heart. Of will. Of purpose.
King David, described as “a man after God’s own heart,” allowed his lusts to lead him away from God. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, one of his soldiers. Then he tried to cover it up when he realized she was pregnant with his child.
However, with the help of Nathan the prophet, David finally came to his senses. His life provides a profile in what radical repentance is. Take a moment to read Psalm 51. Try to capture the feeling of David’s emotions.
Real repentance, radical repentance involves these six stages.
(1) Recognition of Sin. The prophet Jeremiah condemned the people of Israel who plead, “I am innocent….I have not sinned!” (Jer. 2:35) Yet they were guilty before God. In contrast David said, “I have sinned.” (2 Sam. 12:13).
David saw the seriousness of sin. That his sin was an affront to the holiness of God. Sin is not a mere mistake. The Bible defines sin as a transgression of God’s law. Sin is called evil. Wicked. Defilement. And darkness.
(2) Remorse. The Bible says, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Cor 7:10). There is a huge difference for being sorry for our sins, and feeling sorry that we got caught! David’s penitent heart was filled with moral anguish. Emotional pain. And spiritual hurt.
(3) Resolve. When the lost son in Jesus’ parable “came to himself” he decided to make things right. To go home. To confess sin. And accept the consequences. So did David. The consequences of his sin were bitter, but he accepted them without bitterness.
(4) Reformation. The fruits of repentance are realized in a reformed life. A changed life. A different life. A new life. A change both inside and outside. David’s psalms of repentance are evidence of his change, as well as the commendation of future Bible writers.
(5) Restitution. When possible, repentance results in restitution. In making amends. In repairing damages. In restoring what is right. This was the spirit Zachaccus, the tax collector, had when he told Jesus, “If I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” (Lk. 19:8). David could not undue the past, but he did make restitution to God.
(6) Rejoicing. When we really repent, we will feel joyful. Real repentance results in restoration. Renewal. And revival. Sins are remitted. Relationships are repaired. Spiritual regeneration is received. “Restore to me the joy of your salvation,” was David’s plea.
Repentance is required for God’s forgiveness. And it issues itself in a changed heart and a new life. Charles Spurgeon put it this way, “If you are renewed by grace, and were to meet your old self, I am sure you would be very anxious to get out of his company.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman