Repentance From Dead Works
By: J.E. Gray
Paul started at the beginning, for the first step toward God must be repentance. Except a man will turn in repentance of heart, he will never be able to find God. The arrogant, the hardhearted, the stubborn, and rebellious, shall never find God. Only those who humble themselves and seek for Him shall find. II Chronicles 7:14 says (If they will) “… Humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven…”
In Proverbs 28:13, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper, but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” Psalms 34:18 “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” When we see ourselves standing before a holy God, unclean, filthy, unworthy and ungodly, we realize that he knows all things and there’s no way of excusing ourselves at all. Then we throw ourselves at the mercy of the Lord by true repentance. This is where the first step toward the Lord takes place.
A real thorough repentance is very important and necessary. Sometimes people think that one might need more repentance than others, but Jesus said, “… those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell,… think ye that they were sinners above all men…? Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Also, the Galileans whose blood Pilate mingled with the sacrifice, were they “… sinners above all the Galileans…? Nay: but, except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5)
In Acts 17:30 “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now he commandeth all men everywhere to repent:” Repentance is involved in being sorry that you have disgraced God by your actions and that you are sorry, deeply sorry for your sins and for what you have done. You feel so unworthy and so sorry for your sins that you are willing to turn away from them. This is true repentance, when a person has repented and asked forgiveness of sin, they must be so sorry for their sins that they will turn away from them and not commit them anymore. It is stated in Matthew 1:21 that Jesus would “… save his people FROM their sins.”
It is a wonderful thing to be cleansed from our sins. The Bible tells us in the book of Psalms 103:10,12 “He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”
There must come a real sorrow for sin. In II Corinthians Chapter 7, you will find several verses dealing with this. It appears that Paul’s searching letter to them which is labeled First Corinthians caused them to be touched by conviction, and they sorrowed in their hearts. Paul said they “… sorrowed unto repentance:” Then he said, “… godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of:” So true repentance does not seek justification. True repentance does not seek to lay the blame on someone else. True repentance does not seek to get by and cover up the things done wrong, true repentance comes out boldly and faces God with it and sees oneself desperately lost and in need of God. In so doing, a person will turn in a state of repentance and humble themselves and surrender and turn away from their sins and walk in the ways of God. Then the Lord will have mercy.
The Lord delights in knowing that a person has repented of his sins. In Luke 15 we find the story of the man that had a hundred sheep. One of those sheep went astray. He left the 99 in the fold and went out and sought that one sheep that had gone astray. He sought until he found him, then carried him back to the fold, and he rejoiced because that one that was lost had been found. How much more do not even the angels rejoice “… over one sinner that repenteth, more that over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.”
Many times people think that they have accomplished something when they have kept their sins secret. They feel that nobody knows. The only way to truly hide your sins is to hide them in the blood of Jesus. Let the blood that he shed on the cross of Calvary become the atonement that you might be set free from sin.
Jesus taught them again and again that it was not the man who tried to justify himself that found God, but it was the man who could see how unworthy he was. In Luke 18, Jesus used a parable. He said that two men went into the temple to pray. One of these men stood and prayed thus, “… God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.” While he stood and prayed in this fashion, the other man could not as much as lift his head, but smote himself on the breast and cried out, “… God be merciful to me a sinner.” Jesus said this man went away justified rather than the other.
We don’t fool God, we don’t pull anything over on him. We have to be honest with ourselves and with God. We cannot lay the blame on the day that we live in because people want to live sinful. There always have been people that live sinful. We cannot use the others that are around us for our excuse because there have always been people around who didn’t want to live right. But, we can come like Zacchaeus did. This little man was he that Jesus called to and said, “… Come down, for today I must abide at thy house.” Many people are too high in the sycamore tree to ever come down and really repent and walk with Jesus. So, this man came sliding down the tree, bowed before the Lord, and Jesus walked to his house. When he got there he said to Jesus, “… If I have taken any thing from any man be false accusation. I restore him fourfold.” (Luke 19:5,8) It seems that when the Lord somehow had gotten through to his heart, the things of this world didn’t matter anymore. He was glad to give them up in order to have the favor and mercy of Christ.
There were those recorded in the Bible who did, too late, call on God for mercy. Such a man was Judas who did turn and repent for betraying Christ, but was too late. There was Esau who begged for a blessing and sought for repentance with tears, but there was no repentance found. This is the thing I fear will happen to many people. They all will say they’re sorry some day; they all will come to a repentance of a sort some day. But, many of them will end up like Judas, King Saul, and Esau, repenting after it is too late. The sad thought is that no one has to end up this way. “The Lord – is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9)
1. Genuine repentance, will bear fruit. (Matthew 3:8)
2. All can repent – “… though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” (Isaiah 1:18)
3. All must repent (Luke 13:1) or else be forever sorry. (Luke 16:24)
True wisdom crieth, “… Turn you at my reproof; behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make my words known unto you.”
“Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me; For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord.” (Proverbs 1:23-29)
“He that being often reproved hardened his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Proverbs 29:1)
(The above material appeared in the booklet Treasures of Truth.)
Christian Information Network