Real Repentance 10

Matthew 3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 “Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; 9 and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.

Humility is a true sense of our state, and must necessarily go before a cure; but then, where is the virtue or merit of it? A man full of noisome, stinking sores, would be a madman, if he did not look out for a remedy, whenever he came to be sensible of his condition, but more so if he took any merit to himself for knowing that he was thus diseased. (Thomas Adam, Private Thoughts on Religion)

Since humility (at the least) includes a true sense of our state, how far short people are falling of this aspect of humility in our day. But since this type of humility is necessary for a person to seek a cure, then people are not seeking a true cure for their true problem. Instead, they are seeking God for bigger and better houses and bigger and better cars. They seek God for spouses, for jobs, and for money. But to seek God to be cured of their wicked hearts and sinful nature they don’t even now about does not cross their minds.

The professing Church in our day is concerned to get people to pray a prayer, repent from bad externals sins and become more moral, and then to get involved in the church. But the people never seem to come to a realization of just how sinful they are! How can this be? It is because our doctrines of God have changed, which means our doctrine of sinful man has changed. Salvation has become something that men are in charge of and have the power to carry out for themselves. Repentance has become something men have the power to do themselves as well. Christ is at the beckon and call of any who simply decide they want to escape hell and will stop their external sin.

This is madness in light of Scripture. Regeneration is a work of the sovereign God who does this when and where He pleases. God promises grace to the humble, but only He can truly work humility in the soul. Only He can enlighten souls to their real sinful nature and the extent of their inability. Only He can show souls their utter need of Christ alone to save them by grace alone. Only He can show them that there is nothing in them worth saving and nothing in them that can move Him to save them, so they must not look to themselves at all but with empty hands and empty of trust in themselves simply cry out to God to save them for His name’s sake.

Not only is the modern professing Church missing this in terms of speaking to sinners about coming to know their own sinful hearts and their own sinful natures and what real repentance is, they are also teaching a false version of assurance in light of that. Sinners who are not broken from self will continue to look to self for assurance. Sinners who have not learned that they must look to grace for all things will not realize that God saves sinners to the praise of the glory of His grace and for the sake of His own name. When sinners are never broken to see that, they will not understand the truth of grace and of real repentance.

Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Gen 6:5)

When a person is taught and the Lord enlightens the heart of the sinner to see the depths of his or her own sin and that every intent of the thoughts of “MY” heart are only evil and that continually, that person will not be satisfied with a mere external repentance. That person will not be satisfied with a faith worked up in his or her own strength. That person will begin to see that Christ alone and grace alone can save him or her. That person will begin to understand that salvation by Christ alone means that all saving merit is from Christ. That person will begin to understand that grace means that God saves for His glory alone and that our sin is not an obstacle to His power and grace when it is for His own name. Once a person arrives at the beautiful sight of God saving sinners for Himself and His own name’s sake, a person can then have a real repentance. This real repentance is from all hope in self and all trust in self. This real repentance is from a sinful heart to a heart that has Christ dwelling in it. This real repentance is from a proud heart to a humble heart. This real repentance is from the love of self to the love of God. While this is a real repentance, it is far from meaning that a person is perfect. But a real repentance is conducive to people wrestling with their sinful hearts and needing Christ and His grace moment by moment.

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