Real Repentance 27

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.

Pride is seeing the defects of others, and overlooking our own. Humility is seeing, feeling, and lamenting sin in ourselves; not only past, but present sin; not only actual sin, but the root of it in an evil nature, and all sin without disguise or extenuation, in all its guilt and malignity. (Thomas Adam, Private Thoughts on Religion)

The heart that wants real repentance and actually seeks real repentance from God is a heart that wants to know its sin, even though it may be hard to hear coming from other people. But if we want to know our sin and desire true humility, hearing it from others will also reveal a lot of pride in our hearts. We will see how our hearts rise within us when “certain” others bring up sins to us. We will begin to notice that our hearts rise in different ways depending on the person who brings our sin up. It may be that we are not guilty of the specific sin that a person brings up, but our hearts will reveal some aspect of our pride to us.

Our pride is like the eye of an eagle which is always looking for defects in others, yet that eye is quite dull when it looks at self. By looking at others with that piercing eye of the eagle we see so much in them that we can feel good about ourselves which enables us to feel superior to others. We know our own motives and so we can excuse our own defects, but we don’t know the hearts of others so we just assume the worst about them. But do we really know our own motives? Could it be that our own motives are full of self and pride and since they are in our own best interests we just assume that they are good? Just assuming that “my” motives are good is just one way pride enables us to overlook our own sin.

As imperfect people who are perfectly saved by Christ and yet in a way that does not make us perfect in daily (or hourly) practice, we must grow in our knowledge of our sin and yet of grace. We must grow in humility as we die to self and pride. It is true that this sounds like hard work and indeed it is hard. It is so hard, however, that it is impossible for men to kill their own pride and work up their own humility. We will only have as much humility as we have of the life of Christ (the One who was and is perfect in humility) in us. Humility, then, has to do with a view of self that influences our view of God, others, and the world. As pride is the exaltation of self, so humility is the emptying of self. As pride in its self-love blinds us to ourselves, so humility enables us to see ourselves in a true light that grows brighter as we grow in humility. As pride gives us sharp eyes in our judgments and assumptions about the motives of others, so humility gives us a different kind of eyes to view others with and not assume the worst about them but instead to assume the best about them.

The heart that is dying to pride and growing in humility is a heart that will begin to live in the light of the presence of God. This is a heart that will grow in the true knowledge of God and as it does that it sees itself in a true light. It is as the heart is being torn from its blinders of self to self because of pride and now sees self in the light of His glory that the heart is humbled and sees self in the true light. It is in that light that humility will begin to see sin in self, feel sin in itself, and will start to lament sin in itself. False humility can point out things about itself, but true humility will see what it formerly passed over and mourn over what was formerly seen as small things about itself. True humility will not just see sins that are carried out, but it will see right to its core which is a sinful nature. It is true that the regenerate soul is given a new heart, but oh it cannot escape the habits of the old nature until it arrives in glory.

As the soul grows in humility it will grow in seeing through the disguises of its own sin and see itself as getting worse and worse. This is why we must understand that the soul that has truly been granted repentance unto life is a soul that will be an almost constant “repenter” for life, which is to say that the soul that has really repented is the soul that has been humbled and will grow in its need to repent. Real repentance unto life is by grace alone and the soul is turned from self to Christ. Real repentance of those with Christ is when Christ becomes that person’s life and that person now has the humility of Christ as his or her life and now sees sin in a different light. The person who has His humility will see sin in self and as it grows in the disgust of self it is one that really repents over and over again.

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