Sin 19: Repentance

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 22, 2022 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Dealing with sin requires multiple steps, and the order is not always the same, though it all goes together holistically. Last week, I wrote about clothing and the covering of sin, but covering should only taken place when repentance is clearly demonstrated or in process. This week’s post is about repentance, a word that has nearly gone taboo in modern American Christendom. If a preacher actually calls for repentance from the pulpit, one of two things are going to happen: the church will drive him out, or the church will dwindle to the few people that actually want to hear truth. It is extremely rare for a church to exceed a couple hundred people when a pastor actually teaches Biblical repentance from sin these days. We have a hard enough time getting them to teach on sin properly, let alone repentance. Today, we deal with repentance.

There is a huge debate in the church as to what repentance is. The main debate is whether repentance is a work or a fruit. I believe the answer is both. Repentance is something we have to do. It is a command we are given, and it is the primary message Jesus gave during His ministry. However, it is not a “work” in the sense that if we repent, then God will owe us salvation. It does not merit us salvation, but it is something we must do upon realizing the weight of our sin. Nineveh realized their sin had brought their doom upon them with Jonah’s preaching, and they repented. God spared them because He longs to save rather than give judgment.

Repentance is also a fruit. It comes out of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives when He transforms us from a sinful, defiant person into a righteous person through the process of sanctification. I will cover how all that works next week. When God works the process of changing our dreams, desires, interests and drives from serving self to serving God, repentance from serving self tends to fade on its own. That’s how repentance is a fruit of the work of God.

But there is a third aspect that is often missed. It is a gift, and I never noticed this until I wrote my apologetics series last year with a big emphasis on 2 Timothy 2:24-26. Repentance has to be granted. The servant of the Lord has to be kind and gentle, able to teach, and correcting every false way in gentleness and humility so that God can grant them repentance. And from there, they may know the truth, come to their senses, and be freed from the traps of the devil. Repentance has to be given by God because man in his sinful, rebellious state is never going to turn to God on his own. Remember, man will only come to the Father if the Father draws him. Man won’t do it out of our own desire because that desire is not there in the sinful person.

Repentance involves three things: change of mind, change of action, and change of will. Most people only understand it as a change of action. We were going one direction, we turn around, and we go another direction. That is the elementary level of repentance we are most familiar with. But it is much more of that. It is a change of mind on the issue; we change how we view and understand things. Instead of how the natural man understands things, we now start to see things from the spiritual side and by how God sees it. We will never be on His level, but in the level we can, we start seeing things God’s way instead of by man’s ways. And this is a big thing – the will. We intentionally choose to cease the old lifestyle and choose to go God’s ways. Again, we will not make this choice on our own but only through the drawing of the Holy Spirit.

But there are people who profess the name of Christ and have not repented. To repent means you need to abandon the old view entirely and move on to the new view. While this happens in stages and usually not instantaneously, there has to be a process that is clearly seen. But instead, people merely add Jesus to their lives as an accessory or as an add-on when they are forced to admit that God is indeed real. And the majority in Christendom does this because that is the only “gospel” they have ever heard based on “modern evangelism.” It goes like this: “Come to Jesus who can give you love, joy, peace, happiness and complete your life.” Or it goes like: “You are so special in God’s eyes. He has a wonderful plan for your life and wants to give you your dreams and desires. Give your life to Christ and He’ll give you what you have been looking for.” That’s not merely Word of Faith people; that is the EXTREME majority of church evangelism today regardless of what kind of denomination or group they are part of. If you look at most Gospel presentations today, so little time is spent on actually addressing sin. Sometimes it is mentioned, but mostly glossed over to “get to the good news.” But that’s not how good news works. You need to make sure the bad news is well understood and grips the person so that when the good news is given, you need little time and they want it. So what does this false evangelism and false repentance look like?

Hugh Ross is a “Progressive Creation” teacher who used to be an atheist, and then he realized God existed and became a “Christian.” However, in all I have heard, while he can proclaim the general Gospel message, I have yet to see or read anything coming out of his mouth that indicates genuine repentance. He never left the atheistic ideas he believed prior to becoming a Christian. He still believes in the Big Bang theory, just as he did as an atheist. He still believes the earth is millions of years old, just as he did as an atheist. He apparently rejects Darwinian Evolution of gradual changes but still embraces a doctored form of punctuated equilibrium, which is still Evolution. He teaches that God created the creatures in distinct sets, modifying and changing them with each set. That’s still Evolution. He didn’t repent; he just added “God” to his already established models. That is extremely dangerous. Then, instead of submitting to Scripture, he twists Scripture and reinterprets it to make it fit his models. That is not repentance, and it is evidence he may not actually be saved but just found religion.

Todd White is another one. He is a “pastor” and street evangelist that is extremely known for “faith healing” namely with a “leg lengthening” parlor magic trick that has been easily refuted and exposed as just being a trick. A couple years ago, he preached a very strange sermon for him in which he discovered Spurgeon and Ray Comfort and realized that for 16 years he had been preaching the Gospel wrong. Those were his words. He admitted publicly that he had been doing it wrong this whole time and that he repents of that. Keep in mind, he has said that for the whole time he has been a Christian he has never sinned and boasts how he lives with him as evidence. The next week, he doubled down on everything he had been doing and preached the most self-centered and narcissistic message I have ever heard. He never truly repented. Instead, if he has changed anything at all, he has merely added “the law” to his message and just tweaked what he did instead of actually leaving the old way behind and putting on the new way. That is not repentance.

The extreme danger of supporting an unrepentant person is showcased in the account of Absalom. David’s third son murdered his own brother as revenge for the rape of his sister. David brought him back, but Absalom never repented of his issues, and for a couple years, he plotted a coup that came within a few inches of succeeding. We have to be careful about who we let have places of influence in our lives. Some of them may be genuinely saved, and they still have the old system still dominating. That may be evidence of a novice, not someone qualified for leadership. But it also may be evidence they never got saved to begin with. One of the clearest marks of a born-again believer is a lifestyle of repentance and a push and desire to abandon and leave the old worldly, sinful lifestyles and embrace the new one with Christ. If this is not evident in a person’s life, then we have good reason to question if they were saved. It may not happen all at once, but there should be direction and that is called sanctification, which is next week’s topic.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.