Real Repentance 37

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)

It may seem odd to some that the topic of free-grace keeps coming up in the context of real repentance, but the point is that there is no real repentance apart from free-grace. The repentance that man can work in his own power is not a real repentance from the world, pride, and self. That is a type of repentance apart from grace and that leaves man still in his sin though he might have moved from obvious sin to religious sin. After a person becomes a believer, though some may teach that happens by grace, they make it appear that men are then left with grace to help them and that they can use the means of grace to get the help they need. In other words, it seems that men are left to themselves and their own strength to obtain grace and then to apply grace in repenting. This is not true repentance at any point. Repentance is either by free-grace or it is not real repentance at all.

King Jesus tells us that apart from Him we can do nothing (spiritual or good). The only true spiritual fruit must come from Him first. This should teach us that real repentance can only come from Him and that any repentance in name that does not come from Him is not real repentance. Apart from Christ Himself taking the veil from our hearts, we will not know what we need to repent of. Apart from Christ taking the world, pride, and self out of our heart, they will not be taken out. All of the efforts of self to get self out will do nothing but increase our level of deception. Our pride, which hides itself from us and hides our sin from us, may make a big noise about how we have died to pride and yet it is only hiding itself from us and deceiving us about the true nature of pride.

What we must see is that we must seek the Lord for a real repentance of these things by prayer, study, and meditation. A real repentance must come from Him and yet we must seek Him for it. Until we are seeking Him for it knowing that we don’t deserve to be granted repentance from these things, we will be seeking a self-wrought repentance in some way. We will think that by seeking it we can obtain it or we will think we can merit Him giving it to us. Oh no, that thought or any thought like it must be banned from our hearts. Real repentance comes to the seeking soul by free-grace and nothing else. While we are to seek it, our seeking does not merit a thing and our seeking does not put God under an obligation of any kind. What seeking does, however, is to teach our hearts that we are utterly insufficient and totally unable to repent of ourselves. When our hearts are taught that we are utterly insufficient and totally unable to repent, that is the Lord teaching us in our inner man.

This is so important. A repentance that is by free-grace alone is a repentance that is taught to us by grace as well. The soul that seeks repentance must know that it can never work repentance up and it can never assist itself in repentance, but instead in seeking repentance the soul is seeking the Lord to teach it how utterly insufficient it is to do one thing of its own. This is the broken and contrite heart that the Bible speaks of. This is the heart that the Lord has broken so that it knows that it has to be carried to a place to even beg (as Lazarus). We don’t have the ability to beg in a correct way and we don’t have the ability to seek at all (in reality) apart from grace working these things in our hearts.

What real repentance and real faith teaches us is the need for real grace which is free-grace and sovereign grace. Repentance is utterly necessary, yet we cannot do it. Does this diminish the need? No, but what this does is teach us to seek it from Him who will only give it by free-grace. Our seeking for true repentance does not change God, but He uses our seeking to change us and teach us in the inner man. Only King Jesus can take one that is seeking Him for something and make that sinner one that seeks Him for Himself. At some point He will lead His people to seek Him for repentance so that they may love Him more and more rather than earn something or obtain something from Him. The seeking heart has not really repented until it is seeking more grace for the sake of His name. We will never to that perfectly in this life, but we have some of it and long for more. The soul that has tasted free-grace wants nothing to come to it but by free-grace. The soul that has tasted of Christ wants nothing but what comes to it by Christ. The soul that has tasted real repentance longs to have less of the world, less pride, and less self that it may have more of Christ and His free-grace. Self is not just a wicked sin, but it is opposed to free-grace. So we seek and pray for less self that we may behold His glory in the face of Christ in giving free-grace. Real repentance is a privilege of the free-grace of Christ. We should desire it for His sake.

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