Presented, November 1, 2009 am

The Anatomy of True Repentance

Last week we began a study on fruit worthy of repentance.  These lessons are intended to help us understand what repentance really is.  The lesson is based upon the statement of John the Baptist in Luke 3:7-8 as he prepared the way for the Lord.   Paul while recounting his conversion and early ministry to King Agrippa said something similar in Acts 26:19-20, “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and the to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.”

My point in this study is for us to understand that TRUE repentance is more than saying one is sorry.  It involves a deep seated change in attitude that leads to real and lasting change in one’s conduct.   We noted that there are many things that are NOT repentance including saying “I am sorry”, repeated apologies, and even “godly sorrow” (2 Cor. 7:10-11).  NOR is it conviction, regret or confession of sins OR conditional confession (“I am sorry, but…”).  Finally it is NOT merely stopping what you are doing (the motive has to be there). 

Bearing in mind the degree of effort one will put forth to make themselves right (2 Cor. 7:10-11), in our lesson this morning, I want to further examine this subject by analyzing three examples of repentance we find in scripture. 

 I.                    The Prodigal Son – Luke 15:11-32

a.        In this text we find the mindset involved in true repentance.

b.       A parable about a son who leaves home and lives a wasteful life until he has lost everything. 

c.        Then when he has nothing we are told in vs. 17, “when he came to himself.”  We find here a realization in his mind that what he has done was wrong, he humbles himself and begins to make things right.  He is so debased that he considers himself unworthy to be called his father’s son.

d.       He approaches his father, who with loving hands is waiting to welcome him back unconditionally (20).

e.       The son is still humble and says, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.” (21). Notice that even with a forgiving father, the son KNOWS he has things he needs to make right. 
NOTICE how there is no blame (I.e. “Why did you give me my inheritance?”  “You should have been a better Father” or something like that.), just sincere regrets and a determination to change.

f.         Now that is TRUE repentance.  It starts in the mind and is demonstrated with humility and actions.

g.        There is more to this parable, as this prodigal son had a brother who was unwilling to forgive.  We will deal with him next week.

 II.                  Peter – Matthew 26:31-35

a.        Peter and the disciples are told that they would all deny Jesus.  Peter, strongly and confidently rebukes the Lord for saying such a thing.  He assures the Lord that he will NEVER deny him, even if he has to die.  Jesus replies it will happen 3 times “this night, before the rooster crows.”

b.       Denied the Lord 3 times and had to repent – Matt. 26:69-25.  Luke records that when the rooster crowed, the Lord turned and looked at Peter.  Peter remembered the Lord’s word and he went out and wept bitterly. (26:75)

c.        It was at this point that we see a REALIZATION of what he has done.  Again you have the mindset that will lead to true repentance.   You also have “godly sorrow” as Peter is devastated at what he has done.   And I perceive that he doesn’t know what to do to make it right.

d.       John 21:15-19 records an occasion after Jesus arose from the dead.  Peter and others had gone back to fishing. But he sees Jesus and jumps out of the boat and comes to Him on the shore.  After breakfast, Jesus proceeds to (at least what some describe it as) restore Peter by asking him, “Do you love Me?”  The English text does not bear this out, but Peter replies with a different word.  Jesus used the word agape and Peter replies with phileo which means to cherish.   What I want you to notice is that Peter understands the strength of the love Jesus was asking for and he DOUBTED himself.  Brethren this is HUMILITY.  Peter KNEW he had done wrong and part of caused that was arrogance.  He wasn’t going to let that happen again.  Jesus calls for Peter to “Tend My sheep.”  Jesus asked the question again and Peter gives the same answer a second time.  Still hesitant and humbled.  Jesus says, “Tend My sheep.”  The third time Jesus asks him, “Do you love Me” and this time uses the word phileo.  Peter is grieved at this and responds, “Lord you know all things; you know that I love you.”  He is again told to feed His sheep and lets Peter know that he was going to suffer as he served his Lord.  We know that Peter accepts the commission.  

e.       NEVER again does he deny his Lord.  Peter did sin again, but he learned from what he had said and done to his Lord.   In fact, tradition holds that Peter died by crucifixion and requested that he be hung upside down because he was unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as the Lord. That is TRUE repentance.

 III.                David – Psalm 51, etc.

a.        Perhaps there is no greater example of repentance than that of David.

b.       The account has to do with his adultery with Bathsheba – 2 Samuel 11 records the account.   Bathsheba is on her housetop bathing.  David sees her and lusts.  He commits adultery with her.  Then he tries to cover it up by having her husband go in to her.  When this fails, he has Uriah put in a situation where he will be killed.  We read in the text that no only was Uriah killed, but also some other servants of Israel.  All in an attempt to cover up David’s adulterous lust.

c.        Chapter 12 records Nathan’s rebuke.  He tells the story of the poor man with a single lamb which was taken from him to tend to the guest of a wealthy man.  David is outraged and says, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die!  And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.” (12:5-6)
Nathan indicts David!  “YOU are the man!”  READ vs. 7-12 which describe the penalty for David’s sin and realize that he deserves to die for his sins (adultery and murder).

d.       David’s response, “I have sinned against the Lord.”  (vs. 13).   David is convicted in his heart.

e.       How do we know he repented?  BY HIS ACTIONS!

                                                   i.      He is told the child would die (vs. 13-14).  Vs. 15-23 describe the actions of David.  He pleads with God to not take the son.  He doesn’t eat and afflicted himself for 7 days.  But the child dies.  The people are afraid to tell him because of the way David had acted.  But when he is told the child is dead he gets up and anoints himself and eats.
NOTICE vs. 21-23 – the people wonder why he acts as he did while the child was ill.  He was pleading with the Lord to spare the child.  COULD it be because that child was an innocent victim, like Uriah and the other soldiers who fell?  He was determined to stop the consequences of his actions against others.

                                                  ii.      David wrote at least 5 psalms of repentance.  They describe his realization of the gravity of his sins.  This is the attitude that leads to true repentance.
Psalm 51:1-17 – In this text we notice several acknowledgements concerning David’s repentance – there is intense desire to be right with God and have his sins forgiven.  He wants thorough forgiveness and cleansing.
He acknowledges his transgressions and is ALWAYS reminded of his sins.
He recognizes whom he sinned against first – God!
Vs. 10 – a desire for a clean heart and a steadfast spirit.
Note especially vs. 17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart – These, O God, You will not despise.”
Psalm 6 – He pleads for mercy from God’s anger with him. 
Note how his sins have troubled him (2-7), and His faith with which he accepts forgiveness (8).  You can ONLY do this IF you know you have done your part.
Psalm 38 – (1-10) A fearful David is pleading for mercy from God.  He is stressed and weak.  He is sickly because of his sin.   His iniquities are too heavy for him and his wounds foul.
(8), he is severely broken and has a heart of turmoil.  Also vs. 17-18 – many of the things he faces are a result of his sins.  He concludes with vs. 21-22 – He needs the mercy of God.
Psalm 32 – David rejoices having been forgiven.   When he kept his sins to himself he was miserable, but when he finally confessed to the Lord he was forgiven and N0W he is blessed.

                                                iii.      What is the lesson from these psalms?  When you have sinned against God and others, it ought to tear you up inside.  IF you truly understand repentance you will not sleep until you have done everything you can to make it right.

f.         NOTICE how there is no “but” after David’s response.
He could have blamed others:
Bathsheba – because “she shouldn’t have tempted me like that” OR “she should not have submitted” Joab – “he should have refused to do what I said because he knew it was wrong”
Nathan – “How dare he speak to me like that!”  “How dare he expose my private sins.”

g.        NOTICE the consequences of his actions

                                                   i.      Innocent people died - The child dies, Uriah, others.  Do you suppose that David ever thought about those things again?  Read the psalms above if you doubt it.

                                                  ii.      His house was divided – he would experience severe family problems.  One of his sons Amnon raped his step-sister Tamar (2 Sam. 13).  As a result of this, Absalom, Tamar’s full sister murders Amnon (13:23-30).  Because of this Absalom is exiled from David and has a bitter relationship.  2 Samuel 15 record’s Absalom’s treason as he turns many in the city against David and he is again forced to flee from Jerusalem into the wilderness for safety.  In the meantime, David is in the wilderness being cursed by a man from the household of King Saul (16:5-14) While David is fleeing Absalom seeks to destroy him and is killed in battle (2 Sam. 18).   I ask: DURING THIS TIME, do you suppose David thought about what he had caused by his sins?

                                                iii.      He faced war the rest of his life.  He was not permitted to build the temple for God because he was a man of war.

                                                iv.      Perhaps what weighed on David the most, God’s name was blasphemed because of his sin (2 Sam. 12:14) before others.

                                                  v.      Brethren when you sin know there are consequences that you have to live with.  And if you can, you need to seek to make them right.

And there you have. It is my hope that by looking at these examples, we will see not only the importance of repentance but we have a better understanding of what TRUE repentance involves.  We have seen that you CANNOT have repentance unless there is a true change in the heart.  But there is more to be said.  Next week we will (probably) conclude our study on repentance by noting who needs repentance and what it should mean to  us when one repents.