Real Repentance 26

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.

If we would put doing in place of thinking, knowing, and wishing, we would understand the meaning of Romans 7 and be convinced of the need of a better righteousness than our own. (Thomas Adam, Private Thoughts on Religion)

Real repentance (as opposed to a deceptive repentance, a fake repentance, a pseudo repentance…) does require thinking, but real repentance requires thinking and real repentance. Real repentance does include knowing, but it also requires the doing of what one knows and not just knowing about it. Real repentance includes wishing, but it also includes a strong enough desire or wish to actually repent and not just desire to repent without repenting. Here is a clue to some things which eternal souls have stumbled over and will stumble over in thinking that they have repented in truth when all they have done is to think about repentance, know about repentance, and wish they would have repented.

Luke 13: 1 Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? 3 “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 “Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? 5 “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

The words of Jesus slice to the hearts of those who have ears to hear. Some people had reported to Him about some injustices, but Jesus spoke to them and their need to repent rather than commiserate about what went on. His words to them were unvarnished with niceties and without coating of sugar or anything else. He told them that unless they repented they would all likewise perish. It is vital to get the pointed nature of His words. He did not tell them that they were too worthy or too valuable for that to happen to them. He did not tell them that the people that happened to were great sinners. He did not tell them to relax and it would be fine. He also did not tell them that as long as the thought about repentance they would be okay. He did not tell them that as long as they knew about repentance they would be okay. He did not tell them that as long as they wished to repent they would be fine. Jesus was clear that they must actually repent or they would perish.

Romans 7 is a book that is very hard on those who believe that they are basically good or that they can attain a high level of sanctification. Paul stands against anything like that when he speaks of being slain by the law and then wonders who could deliver him from his body of death. Those who are honest with the biblical standard of holiness and their own lack of it (to put it nicely) have not doubt that if a man is to stand before a thrice holy and righteous God that man must have the righteousness of another. It is not just that man falls short ever so often, but that man falls short ever moment of his existence and in everything he does. Man has no righteousness at all of his own and so he must have the righteousness of another or he will perish.

It is very true that a person must be turned from following the path of sin and destruction, but real repentance also includes the inward man and his intellectual life and the desires and intents of the heart. Man must not only repent of what he has done, he must also repent of what he has not done. Man must not only repent of sinful desires, but he must repent of his best desires. Real repentance is to repent of pride and self which includes the very best things and the most righteous things that man can do. Real repentance is not just stopping certain things; it is to repent of the loves and desires that moved us to do those things. It is, in a word, turning from self to Christ. It is to turn from being proud of self to being proud of the cross. It is to turn from self-righteousness to the righteousness of Christ. It is to turn from self-sufficiency to the sufficiency of Christ. It is to turn from pride in religious to the humiliation regarding my works of righteousness. No, this is not works. This is all by grace. No man can repent like that in the strength of self for that would just be more of self. Oh no, this is a work of the Spirit and it is by grace alone.

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