3 Essential Marks Of Genuine Repentance...
Big Idea: Repentance is a change in me the world can see.
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We’ve all experienced times of confusion - times when we thought we understood something we in reality did not. The problem with confusion is that it has consequences. Some confusion, in fact, can have life-long, fatal, even eternal consequences. Repentance is one of those issues.
From beginning to end, the Bible heralds genuine repentance as foundational to both salvation and spiritual growth. The truth is, there is no salvation or spiritual growth apart from repentance.
But even though it’s one of the most talked-about issues in our faith, repentance is also one of the most misunderstood. As a result, much of what we deem repentance may not be. So, we need to be crystal clear about what it is and what it isn’t.
Here’s the question: How certain are you that you both understand and practice Biblical repentance?
Two words are used for “repentance” in both the Old and the New Testaments. When translated, these words describe a three-fold change that Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 7: 11.
“For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.”
From this passage, we can see three essential marks of genuine repentance. Without all three of these, we have not genuinely repented:
1. A Change of Mind – I think differently about my sin.
“For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you…”
Repentance starts with seeing our sin for what it is: an offense against the heart of God, treason against the King we were created to serve, rebellion against a perfect, heavenly Father. Until we think the way God thinks about our sin, we won’t feel the way God feels about it. No matter how small we think our sin is, it is never insignificant.
2. A Change of Heart – I feel differently toward my sin.
“What indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment!”
Godly grief produced strong emotions in the Christians at Corinth. Their hearts were broken and they hated their sin. Genuine repentance will result in sorrow and heartbroken remorse over the hurt we’ve caused God as a result of our sin.
3. A Change of Direction – I act differently in regard to my sin.
“What eagerness to clear yourselves . . .”
When they repented, the Corinthians committed to making restitution. Unlike gift giving, when it comes to repentance, it's not the thought that counts, but the action taken against it. Repentance that doesn’t result in a radical redirection of our lives is not Biblical repentance.
God had done a deep work in the Christians at Corinth that produced an external change. They did not achieve repentance on their own and neither can we, because repentance is not a work of the will but a gift of grace.
Repentance is a gift of God made possible through the perfect work of Jesus. We can’t earn it, work up to it, or cause it in our own hearts. We can only lean heavily on the grace of God and ask Him to grant us repentance.
If we recognize our sin for what it is, experience remorse for how it grieves God, and allow God to redirect our lives, we have genuinely repented. We can then have deep assurance that we are walking with Him and we can be certain of our salvation.
What are some of the best resources you've found on the topic of repentance? Leave a comment here...