Turning from Sin
Repentance is a condition for our salvation
The Old Testament called upon Israel to repent. “Repent now everyone of his evil way and his evil doings, and dwell in the land that the LORD has given to you and your fathers forever and ever” (Jer. 25:5). “Now, therefore, says the LORD, Turn to me with all your heart, With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning” (Joel 2:12).
The New Testament makes salvation conditional upon our repentance. After John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee preaching, “Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk. 1:15). “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:3). “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). “Repent therefore and be convened, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19).
This morning, we want to examine what the Bible teaches concerning repentance.
What is Repentance?
Repentance follows the pricking of the heart. Acts 2:37-38. At Pentecost, Peter preached that the Jews had crucified the Messiah. They were cut to the heart—they realized they were guilty of the crime. Then, they were told to repent. Before we can repent, we must realize that we have sinned and have a desire to come to God.
This pricking of the heart involves godly sorrow. Godly sorrow leads to repentance. 2 Corinthians 7:9-10.
Godly sorrow is regretting that we have sinned against God’s holiness, not that we might get caught. Godly sorrow involves hating the sin itself.
It’s easy to hate that we got caught. We might be upset about paying a fine for speeding, not because we were speeding, but because we got caught. Most criminals never confess their crimes until they get caught, and many don’t confess then.
It’s another thing entirely to repent because we hate the sin. When we hate sin, we put away those sins no one else knows about. When we hate sin, we seek help to overcome that sin that torments us.
W. M. Taylor said, “True repentance hates the sin, and not merely the penalty; and it hates the sin most of all because it has discovered and felt God’s love.” Do we hate the sin, or do we hate the consequences?
Repentance takes the godly sorrow and turns the godly sorrow into a change of actions. True repentance involves a change in actions. “Bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Lk. 3:8)—It is not enough to say we’ve repented; we must show it. Paul declared to those who heard him that “they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance” (Acts 26:20). The prodigal son changed his actions—After he came to himself he arose and went to his father (Lk. 15:11-32).
When we repent, we change our actions. That principle is laid down in Ephesians 4:28: “Let him who stole steal no longer.”
When we repent, we make a concerted effort to give up the sin in our life. We strive not to lose our temper. We strive not to use foul language. Have you changed your actions?
Repentance, then, is a change of the mind that results in a change of actions.
What Produces Repentance?
The thought of Judgment produces repentance.
The thought that we shall stand before God should cause us to cease our sin. We shall be judged based upon the life we’ve lived. “Each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:12). “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10).
As Paul reasoned with Felix concerning the judgment, Felix was afraid (Acts 24:25). Are we afraid? Has the thought of Judgment produced repentance in our lives?
The miracles of Jesus should lead to repentance.
Matthew 11:20-23. The miracles Jesus performed should have caused people to realize who he was. They would have then ceased from sin and turned to him.
Today, through Scripture, we have the testimony of Jesus’ miracles. These miracles should cause us to realize who he is and to follow him, thus leaving sin. Have Jesus’ miracles caused us to repent?
Scripture should produce repentance.
The rich man’s brothers were to hear Moses and the prophets and repent (Lk. 16:30-31). The rich man’s brothers were to be obedient to Scripture, and being obedient to Scripture, they would repent. If we are obedient to Scripture, we will repent. Have you repented?
The goodness of God produces repentance.
“Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4).
God’s goodness should lead us to repentance. We should realize that God loved us enough to give his Son for us. We should realize that God is being patient with us.
Godly sorrow produces repentance.
“I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow lead to repentance” (2 Cor. 7:9). Truly being sorry over the sins we’ve committed will cause us to leave our sin.
Afflictions should cause us to repent.
God sent plagues in the Revelation with the intent that people would repent. Revelation 9:18-21. Revelation 16:8-9.
Afflictions in our life should cause us to repent. Affliction—the death of a loved one, serious illness—should cause us to depend on God like never before. Such affliction reminds us of our mortality and the need we have to be right before God.
Repentance is a gift of God.
God gives repentance as a gift. “Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31). “God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life” (Acts 11:18).
Is repentance a direct or an indirect gift of God?
Repentance cannot be a direct gift of God.
God shows no partiality.
Peter said, “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality” (Acts 10:34). If repentance were a direct gill of God, God would show partiality, for not all people repent.
Repentance is a duty to be performed.
Matthew 11:20. It was up to the cities where Jesus had performed his mighty works whether or not they would repent.
Repentance is an indirect gift of God.
God’s goodness leads us to repentance. The Scriptures lead us to repentance. The miracles of Jesus lead us to repentance.
The Importance of Repentance
There is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents.
“I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Lk. 15:7).”Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Lk. 15:10).
Repentance leads to pardon.
“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3: 19).
Without repentance we must perish.
“Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:3, 5). “Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and fight against them with the sword of My mouth” (Rev. 22:16).
Repentance is impossible for the complete apostate.
Hebrews 6:4-6. We can come to a point where our hearts are so hard that we cannot repent.
If we repent, God will save us.
Have you repented?
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Alum Creek church of Christ in Alum Creek, West Virginia.