With tears of determination, the promise is made that things will get better...but they don’t. A sincere sense of sorrow is felt, but as time passes, we are back in the same old rut.
Hmmm, part of the problem is that we think sorrow and confession are enough to make the changes needed. We need to add some understanding to that. In the Scripture, the process is called repentance...and that involves much more than saying you are sorry.
The Bible shows us that there is a difference between repentance and remorse. Judas “felt remorse” and brought back the 30 pieces of silver. He even confessed his crime (Matthew 27:3-4). Even though he knew how horrible his sin was, he let it lead to self-hatred and shame and led to his suicide instead of leading him to God and life in Him.
Paul calls this the “sorrow of the world”—a sorrow that holds no hope for people wracked in their guilt and shame. “...the sorrow of the world leads to death” (2 Corinthians 7:10b).
But there is another sorrow that produces life...
“I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, in order that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation. (2 Corinthians 7:9-10a)
Made sorrowful to the point of repentance! That is what makes the difference. The big determination here is whether the sorrow brings the sinner to repentance. Big difference.
Repentance in the Greek is metanoeo (meta = after, nous = mind) which means to perceive or know afterwards, implying a CHANGE. In the Old Testament, repentance meant not so much involving sin as involving just a change of mind on an issue.
But in the New Testament, repentance has reference to repentance from sin—and that involves a change of mind that means both a turning from sin and a turning to God.
True repentance means you not only confess your sin and sorrow but you ALSO choose to turn from that sin and choose God’s ways instead. It is active, up front—YOU MAKE A CHOICE.
Repentant people take a hard look at themselves and are brutally honest in facing the truth about who they are and what they have done. And that means, NO EXCUSES.
This “turning” thing is serious—don’t just be sorry—turn to God!
"I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud, and your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you." (Isaiah 44:22)
Just the presence of remorse, emotions and tears may not be the full sign of true repentance—purposeful, changed behavior in that repentance will show the difference. And that takes work on the sinner’s part. Long, dark periods of self-reflection and the painful surrender of pride and selfishness are arduous tasks. It often requires letting go of cherished pleasures and being accountable to others for our actions (we don’t like to do those things—especially if we have done things in our “closet” so to speak—looking good to others and yet privately rotting with sin inside).
The end result of true repentance is glorious though. It is a revived life in Christ knowing that His way is the best way and no treasure tops His righteousness ruling in us.
Six Signs to Recognize True Repentance
1. Repentant people are willing to confess all sin, not just the one that got them in trouble.
- No more secrets (that confession is to God and the ones you have sinned against...not everyone on the planet!)
- No more excuses or blame shifting.
- You have to let those you have sinned against freely express the intensity of their emotions and the depth of the problems that your sin has caused
- You realize you can never fully repay someone for what you have done to them
- You realize that forgiveness is often a long journey and you need to give that person as much time as needed for them to forgive you
- All you can do is sincerely admit your debt to them and hope they can find it in their heart to give you a “gift” you don’t deserve...that of forgiveness (Remember, forgiveness means someone gives up their right to punish you for what you have done to them.)
- You invite them to hold you accountable to clean living
- You allow them to periodically question you about your behavior (this is not an Inquisition or Tribunal Court!)
- You are open to follow their recommendations to avoid temptations
- The consequences of their sin may last a long time, maybe the rest of their lives
- They may never enjoy the same freedoms others enjoy (sex offenders can’t be alone with children, alcoholics can’t drink, adulterers have to limit time with members of the opposite sex)
- They accept the reality of their situation and live their lives within those boundaries
- Our God is merciful and delights in giving second chances
- God offers restoration to Him and a new life to live
- After healing, comes LIVING
- You accept your past failures but you don’t drown in guilt and self-loathing
- You focus on the daily tasks at hand and do them with all your might in the presence of a loving God
The good news is that you don’t have to do this alone...God and those in the Body of Christ are at your side. There’s no “I” in TEAM. We need Jesus. We need each other. (Philippians 2:13; Romans 12:5, 10)
God bless you always.
NOW GO LIVE IT
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