And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: (Acts 17:30)
Many today teach that salvation is at the point of belief in Jesus Christ and not dependent on us doing anything else. They teach that you don't have to even repent to be saved, and that God's Grace covers even sins that we continue to practice.
What does the Bible say?
Look back at what Peter told the people on the Day of Pentecost:
Acts 2:38 "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
Peter would later teach that repentance was necessary for our sins to be blotted out:
Acts 3:19 "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;"
When Simon tried to purchase the power of imparting the gifts of the Holy Ghost, Peter told him:
20. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
21. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
22. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
What is repentance? Jesus gave a parable that both illustrated what repentance was, and illustrated that it was necessary to enter into the kingdom of God.
28. But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.
29. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.
30. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.
31. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.
So basically, repentance is a 180 degree turn from our former life of sin.
There are three "C's" to repentance; Conviction, Contrition, and Conversion.
Conviction - Conviction comes by the law:
Romans 3:20 "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin."
Sin is transgression of the law:
1 John 3:4 "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law."
1 John 5:17: "All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death."
James 4:17: "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin."
All have sinned:
Romans 3:23: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
I John 1:
8: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10: If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
There is no justification without the admission of guilt:
9. And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
10. Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Psalms 34:18 "The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit."
8. For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.
9. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
10. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
11. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
What is the difference between godly sorrow and sorrow of the world? Look at some examples given us in the scriptures and see if you can tell the difference:
When Judas understood that he betrayed Jesus to be condemned to death, he was very sorry. He was so sorry that he could not live with what he had done and hanged himself.
3. Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
4. Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.
5. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
When Stephen stood trial before the Jewish Council and condemned them for ignoring the law and prophets they were convicted in their hearts. They became so angry at his teaching that they dragged him outside the city and stoned him to death.
54. When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.
55. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
56. And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
57. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,
58. And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.
On the first Pentecost after Jesus's death, Peter taught the people how that Jesus had been proven through signs and miracles that He was the Son of God. He told them they had taken the Christ and crucified him. They were convicted in their hearts and were very sorry.
Acts 2:37 "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?"
It is pretty obvious, that of these three cases, there was only one where sorrow brought about positive results. Those that were touched by Peter's teaching on the day of Pentecost had godly sorrow.
We are to die to sin: Just like Jesus was crucified and died on the cross, we must crucify the old man of sin. Just as Jesus was buried in the tomb, we are buried with him in baptism. Finally, as he was resurrected from that tomb and lived again to die no more, we rise out of baptism a new creature no longer living in sin.
1. What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2. God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
3. Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4. Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
7. For he that is dead is freed from sin.
Galatians 2:20 "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
Jesus was sent to our world and was sacrificed on the cross to take away our sins, and in our relationship with Christ all our sins are forgiven:
I John 1:6, 7 "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
But notice in that same passage that our relationship with Jesus is dependent on us walking as He did.
If we do righteousness we are in fellowship with Christ and sins are forgiven. If we pratice sin, we are of the devil:
I John 3:
5. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.
6. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.
7. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
8. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
9. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
The blood of Jesus Christ does not cover wilful sin:
26. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
27. But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
28. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
29. Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
30. For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.
31. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
If we continue in sin, then we are a servant of it.
16. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
17. But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
18. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
19. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
20. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
And as a servant of sin you will receive the wages of sin, and sin doesn't pay very well:
21. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
22. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
23. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We said at the beginning of the lesson that repentance is a 180 degree turn from our old life of sin. We also learn that we don't only have to turn away, we also have to start walking in that new direction. Repentance is a continuing transformation that accomplished through the renewing of our minds by meditating upon the scriptures:
1. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
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