Real Repentance 36

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.

God never makes any man what he should be, without first making him know what he is. O God, take the veil from my heart; take the world, take pride, take self out of my heart, and write there all Thy laws, I beseech thee. (Thomas Adam, Private Thoughts on Religion)

True repentance requires or involves taking the love of the world, love of self, and pride out of the heart and replacing those things with the laws of God. These things are circular in nature, which is to say that it takes the love of God to take out those things and then more love of God in the heart will work to take out more of those things. When God shines light into the soul, He reveals to the soul that it is full of the world, pride, and self. The believing soul longs to be delivered from those things and to be filled with the love of God, yet the more love of God that is given to the soul the more of the world, pride, and self are revealed. God loves Himself and shares that love for Himself with His people, yet that love is such that it will always reveal sin and this love moves people to turn from sin more and more. This love comes to sinners by free-grace and it is this free-grace that overcomes sin in the hearts of sinners.

While it sounds harsh to some to pound away at the need for people to repent of the world, pride, and self; this comes in a way that is different than modern religion teaches. True repentance can only happen in the heart where Christ is the life of that soul and where He overcomes sin by free-grace. This does not take away the obligations of human beings, but instead it transfers the obligations to another focus. Instead of it being the obligation of sinners to put away sin by the power of self, it is the obligation of sinners to put sin away by the power of grace. But since sinners cannot bring grace to themselves by what they do, it is their obligation to seek God for grace to put away sin and to truly repent of sin.

We can either pound away at people to repent of the world, pride, and self by the strength of self, or we can plead with people to seek the Lord to give them the grace to repent of those things. What can cause a person to repent of the love of the world except that person be given a greater love? What can cause a person to repent of pride except a greater power than pride and that is the power of Christ and His life of humility in the soul? What can cause a person to repent of self except the life of Christ giving a person love for Himself in the soul? Self can never cast out self because self would always remain there to cast out self. This is a great deception to sinners. They cast out self by the power of self and don’t realize that they have deceived themselves because self is there and is hidden in the dress of religion. This is one reason why the danger of teaching free-will or not teaching against free-will is so dangerous. As long as a person thinks that s/he has the power to repent of self, that person has not understand the insidious power and deception of the self. The self has no power to cast out self, but instead it can only deceive itself with religious actions in thinking that it has done so. In this case the self has really gained power over the soul as it is hidden better and disguised as religious action or even thought to be the power of God.

A real repentance from the world cannot happen from the self who loves the world. That self will repent of forms of the world but only for the appearance of it and only for the praise of men. A real repentance from pride cannot come from pride as pride can only strengthen itself in religious activities and blind itself from itself by a false humility that comes from pride. A real repentance of self cannot happen by the power of self as something apart from self must cast self out or it is just another form or disguise of self casting out self. What this teaches us with great clarity is our need of Christ and His grace in order to truly repent. Repentance cannot happen apart from Christ and apart from free-grace. No sinner can possibly deserve to be delivered from sin, but instead sinners deserve to be turned over to harder hearts and more sin. No sinner can possibly deserve to be granted repentance. What we can plainly see, then, is that we must repent, but that we must seek grace in order to repent. Only the Lord Jesus working in the soul can move it to repent and only Christ can do it by free-grace. There is nothing but free-grace in Christ and by Christ that could possibly deliver souls from the power of sin.

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