Monday, December 14, 2015

True Repentance

Repent and Be a Witness

Quick Update on the Book Project: We have finished editing the book and are doing the final touches and hope to have it available before Christmas. We plan to publish both in book print format and an eBook (Kindle format), both of which will be available on Amazon.com. The book includes Biblical teachings, testimonies, and visions which will stir up your faith by encouraging you to trust God, seek Him, and be patient through submission to God as He prunes us to grow in truth, obedience and bear spiritual fruit for service. The book is full of edifying insights to help you in your walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. We also share warnings which encourage the fear of God and living holy lives as we prepare for His soon coming!

Last week we wrote an article on being born again. It would be only appropriate to follow up with an article with a similar tone and this week we share with you, True Repentance. Biblically, the word repentance means to turn from the direction of living a sinful life to a godly life in Christ (2 Chronicles 7:14; Ezekiel 18:21-23). Many people believe that there is a God and savior, but only a few live repentant lives. Just recently, we were smitten with grief and disappointment when the Lord exposed a case of false repentance. The individual concerned practiced good Christianity in our presence but the moment he leaves us, he leads a secret life of sin. This is best described as hypocrisy and false repentance. It means he had repented for the wrong reasons: to please man rather than God. Often those who have repented falsely do so for the benefit of personal gain. How many people do we know who claimed to have repented of  their wicked ways in order to marry a person in the church whom they lusted after? Are there not people we know who ‘repent’ and speak our Christian language only for financial or some other gain? Well, such behavior may give us a temporary false gain by using God for the wrong purposes. In fact, such folly will only backfire on us with some dire consequences (Romans 8:13).

Therefore, every truly born again believer who has gone through the experience of repentance knows what the Lord expects of us (1 Peter 2:1-3; 1 John 3:9). This is where our relationship with the Risen Lord starts. In addition to pursuing a life of peace and upright living as the above Scripture declares, the Lord Jesus Christ called us to be His witnesses to the world (Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:19-20). As we know in today’s church environment, many Christians display their Christian ‘power’ and ‘authority’ by shielding themselves with lofty ministry titles. Church titles don’t win souls! If we use official church titles to impress and attract people to us, are we not sinning? Should we not be making followers of Christ rather than of us? (1 Corinthians 1:12).

Now many brethren in the Body of Christ are seeking after the official ministry titles, like apostles, prophets, pastors, evangelist, and teachers. In the past, we inquired of the Lord for some enthusiastic brethren who were eager to hear what their callings were. After hearing the Lord sending them to the streets to witness, many of them were disappointed, and like the rich young man whom the Lord called to humility (Matthew 19:16-22), they doubted the Lord’s message and clung to man’s approval of them. They thought the Lord would say ‘welcome apostle or prophet’; instead, they were encouraged to evangelize to the lost in the streets, to their colleagues at their work places or at home to their family members. The Lord knows that some of those who desire the formal ministry titles desire power and status. We know John the Baptist came as a prophet but his prophetic message was a testimony from our Heavenly Father to reveal our Lord Jesus Christ to the world (John 1:32-34). He started out his ministry preaching repentance (Matthew 3:2). This was repeated by Peter on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38), and subsequently the apostle Paul went through a similar experience; he repented and immediately started sharing his testimony (Acts 9:18-22).

What is Repentance?

There can be no salvation without repentance or being born again (John 3:3-8; Matthew 3:2; 4:17). Biblically, repentance means turning from sin to God (Deuteronomy 30:1-2; 2 Chronicles 6:26-27). In other words, once we have renounced our sins through confessing (acknowledging) our sins we have repented and we immediately receive God’s Holy Spirit as ‘down payment’ (Ephesians 1:13-14) and the adoption of sonship in Christ (Ephesians 1:5).

Sadly, there are many people who have faith in God and the redemptive work of Christ Jesus, but let me tell you: faith that does not involve repentance by living according to the Spirit (Galatians 5:16; 25) is not a reflection of a true faith (Acts 20:21). Therefore, obedience to the Lord is required with a complete yielding and submission to God as we follow the conviction of the Holy Spirit to correct our hearts and attitudes (James 4:7; Acts 2:37).

In addition, the Bible says repentance involves a complete change of the heart, soul (mind, will and emotions) abandoning of old ways (Ezekiel 11:18-20). It is more than just mere sorrow for sin; it is a total surrender to the Lord. True repentance as we noted above is acknowledging our sins as deserving God’s judgment and turning from that sin to ask the Lord’s forgiveness (1 Kings 8:47-50). If we are sorrowful for our sins and we ignore the conviction from the Holy Spirit to make right with the Lord, we act on self-pity. As the Word correctly declares, Godly sorrow leads to repentance and a new life in Christ (2 Corinthians 7:9-10; Psalm 51:1-17). Our repentance is proven by the genuineness and our change of behavior (Luke 3:8-14; 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV; 1 John 2:4-6).

I have come across a lot of people who expressed great sorrow for their sins. Some even quote this Scripture: “… God have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13-14 NIV), but sadly, they continue in their sins. How many of you reading here merely have sorrow for your sins but you never truly repent? Will you only feel sorry for your sins and even confess them to others in self-pity, but not act by faith coming from the Holy Spirit’s conviction and repent? We know the consequences of sin brings about God’s judgments (Romans 6:23). Therefore, repent and follow the Lord in fearful obedience. Don’t give up on life and reject salvation! Remember, Christ is that life (John 14:6). Accept Him, see He is calling you to His love and rest (Matthew 11:28). For your assurance, I repeat what the Lord once told us: I will always love all people equally. Arise, don’t just sit there and say, "Yes, I know He loves me." Show Him love too by repenting of your sins and following Him in obedience (John 14:15).

We Must Be Committed and Faithful

In some of our experiences with the Lord, He revealed to us that there are countless Christians who will miss Heaven. He said those practicing deceitful living had a shallow repentance, ready to turn to sin when the flesh and occasions demand. He attributes this to their willful disobedience to Him, by leading unholy lives (Hebrews 12:14; Matthew 7:13-14).

Let me share a brief testimony, a few years ago I witnessed the gospel to a young man who lives about a stone's throw from us. In response, he told me that he saved a copy of the ‘Sinner’s Prayer’ on his desktop and every morning before starting work he would locate the sinners prayer on his desktop and read it out loud to himself while ‘repenting’. Meanwhile, he continued living in sin with his girlfriend. No doubt, this is a trend in today’s society. While we must confess our wrongdoing to the Lord, repeating our wrong living is outright disobedience and a life of bondage. We cannot be content with such a repentance, losing faithfulness and if that is YOU, my brother or sister, then you are playing with your salvation and not taking it seriously.

Kindly allow me to briefly share with you another testimony. We had people who left our fellowship and who could not endure the Lord’s corrections as He rebuked them for willful sinning (Hebrews 10:26). In sharp, but gentle warnings the Lord warned them that HELL is for sinners and disobedient Christians (John 3:36; Ezekiel 18:24). Previously we have shared on Sinning Deliberately, and you are welcome to read this article. Now, we know that the Lord does forgive us if we make mistakes. However, the above Scriptures also say that He will punish the wrongdoer for willful disobedience. In a rebuke to a young, nine-year-old girl in 2011, the Lord said that the girl loves sinning on purpose and then goes back to repent of her sins. This led the Lord to say, Many people say they have repented of their sins, but they repeat their sins without regard to My warnings.

As a further warning from the Lord, we share in part a rebuke below to a young man, and we pray that by sharing that you will learn, abstain from wrongdoing and live to please the Lord. Here is a how the Lord rebuked Sam (not real name): My son Sam is worldly, and My son Sam is busy with wrong things. My son Sam is an unfair person and My son Sam loves lying. My son Sam loves making empty promises and My son Sam is lustful.

In the light of this rebuke from the Lord, how many of us can identify with some of the sins mentioned here? Do we think this person is walking Heaven-ready and being a born-again Christian? This message was given to Sam but serves as a warning to all of us too!

Brethren, in concluding this message, we encourage you to lead a repented life daily remembering that “…without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

To start living a life of true repentance by honoring the Lord Jesus Christ through obedience, please start by praying this Prayer of Sincere Repentance. For any questions or comments on this article or our ministry, please contact us.

Your Brother in Christ,
Glenn van Rooyen.