INTRODUCTION: STOLEN BREAD
There was a preacher in South Africa, and he met a fine, handsome Dutchman who came into his service. God laid His hand on him and convicted him of sin. The next morning he went to the beautiful home of another Dutchman and said to him, “Do you recognize that old watch?” “Why, yes,” answered the other. “Those are my initials; that is my watch. I lost it eight years ago. How did you get it, and how long have you had it?” “I stole it,” was the reply.”What made you bring it back now?””I was converted last night,” was the answer, “and I have brought it back first thing this morning. If you had been up, I would have brought it last night.”
This Dutchman was truly sorry for what he did, and so he took steps in order to make right what he had done wrong. This morning we are going to discuss repentance, and how repentance is a vital part of truly becoming a Christian in the first place. We cannot have faith in Christ, or be disciples of Christ, without repentance. What is repentance? Repentance is having a changed mind about our behavior, about Christ’s sacrifice for us, and about sin. If we are grieved about our wrongdoing, that is a good sign. If we do things and our consciences don’t bother us at all, that is a problem! Peter and Judas are two different men in the Bible who betrayed Jesus. Both men were sorry for what they did according to scripture. But only one of them truly repented for what they did. We will show you which of these men did so. We will open our message up with a passage from the book of Luke. In this passage, Jesus is getting close to the time where he will be crucified. Peter is with him, and here is a bit of their conversation.
Luke 30:31-32 (NIV) 31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
Jesus knew from the beginning that Peter was truly his disciple and that Judas wasn’t ever really a disciple of his. But that’s for another sermon!! Christ said that when Peter had turned back, to strengthen his brothers. Peter did in fact turn back, but what did Judas do?
Matthew 27:3-5 (NIV)3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders.4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.
See….the issue here is that Judas experienced something called worldy sorrow when he sinned, whereas Peter experienced something called godly sorrow when he sinned. What’s the difference? 2 Corinthians tells us.
2 Corinthians 7: 8-11 (NIV) Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— 9 yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 11 See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.
So clearly, the apostle Paul tell us that repentance leads to action. What actions, then? And what does the word repentance actually mean?
- Repentance means changing your mind —– The English words for repent and repentance come from the Greek word metanoia (me-tä’-noi-ä) which means a change of mind, as it appears to one who repents, of a purpose he has formed or of something he has done. Let’s have changed minds.
1a) As Christians we should feel godly sorrow over our sins —– God doesn’t save a man because man’s sorry for his wrongdoing. God saves men because they trust in the work of Christ “alone” for the forgiveness of sins.
[QUOTE]: Man’s fallen nature proves that man is a rebel against God. His will is controlled by the sinful nature. In relation to Godly sorrow…Godly sorrow is the work of the Spirit of God that sways the will of man. Godly sorrow leads man to Salvation of the human soul. Why? It’s the work of God that “breaks” the will of a natural man and shows this individual what he really is. The Spirit of God “convicts” the conscience of a natural man. The Spirit of God “breaks” the will of a fallen man. How? The Holy Spirit shows man what he really is in light of a Savior on the Cross…in light of a resurrected Christ…in light of the holiness and purity of the God of our Salvation. [END QUOTE].
When man is truly and godly sorrowful for the acts of sin he committed against God…he will turn to Christ and never go back. Why? His mind is changed! He realizes his helplessness. He realizes his hopelessness. He realizes he has no strength without Christ…and by the way…the Grace of God also delivers the penitent, or the devout, from “the guilt of sin”. Only the Grace of God can remove guilt from the human conscience.
In his book I Surrender, Patrick Morley writes that the church’s integrity problem is in the misconception “that we can add Christ to our lives, but not subtract sin. It is a change in belief without a change in behavior.” He goes on to say, “It is revival without reformation, without repentance.”
[QUOTE] Worldly sorrow does not break the will of man…Godly sorrow does! Godly sorrow is the affect of the power of the Holy Spirit that “sways” the will of a rebel against God…just enough…to cause this person to believe! Godly sorrow causes rebels to turn away from sin and turn to Christ! Godly sorrow leads men to repentance! Godly sorrow is the affect of the work of God upon the human soul…worldly sorrow that bringeth forth death is a vicious cycle that repeats the same sinful action over, over, and over again. However, we will discuss the idea of “never doing something again.” [END QUOTE]
1b) Repentance does NOT mean never doing it again —- Repentance is something that is on-going. The goal is for our hearts and attitudes to change about sin, to begin to hate what you are doing. This is what happens to a people with changed minds. As Christians, we are the apartments of the Holy Spirit. We are the condominiums of the Holy Spirit! We can know what Christ thinks about sin. (1 Cor. 2).
1c) Repentance means having Christ’s attitude about our sin —- What did Christ think of human nature? We have to study his words to find out! In fact, the miracles and the teachings he performed were all designed to prove to people beyond a shadow of a doubt that Christ was the son of God, so that they would repent and turn from their sins.
- Repentance is mandatory for salvation — We must have sober attitudes about our sins, and take sin very seriously.
2a) Those who are really saved will really change (Peter and Judas) —- When Judas betrayed Jesus, he took matters into his own hands and hung himself. Peter, he betrayed Jesus, then ran off and wept. Let’s see what the verses say.
Matthew 26:34 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”
Matthew 26:75 (ESV) And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
But after that, guess what? Peter went back to the disciples. He went back to Jesus’ mother. (Luke 22 is where Jesus said that he prayed for Peter). Peter truly changed his mind, unlike Judas, and the proof of this being his actions after denying the Lord.
Here it is. We all have choices to make. What is our response when we sin? Do we try to save ourselves or do we turn to God?
We also know what Peter did. While Jesus was on trial, Peter denied three times that he even knew Jesus. But what were the words of the angel that was near Jesus’ tomb on the morning he rose from the dead?
Mark 16:6-8 (NIV)6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
Peter went on to be baptized with the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts, and also wrote three letters for the churches. He is proof that person can truly change if they desire to do so.
Proverbs 24:16 (NIV) for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.
2b) The truth is that we can change – The lies that Satan will tell you is that you cannot change. But it is a lie; we can, and we must in fact, change! Let us have changed minds.
2c) There is power available if we want to change —- Prayer, fasting, and the studying of the Word of God. Spending time with other Christians, worshipping God, crying out to God, reaching out to him, all these things are tools to help us repent, and to help us have changed minds.
[ILLUSTRATION]: The following is an analogy about the necessity of repenting and cleaning up the sin in our lives. A few years ago in Advent, there was a Christmas tree in our sanctuary. The Christmas tree was beautiful but the lights would not come on. Why? I showed the children the electric plug. I had put tape on the plug so that the plug to the Christmas lights could not be connected with electric power. I asked the children what I should do? The children all shouted, “Take off the tape.” I did, and as soon as I scrapped off the tape and the crud, the power could flow from the light source into the lights on the Christmas tree. The tree glowed with its lights. Similarly, some of us Christians do not have the power of Christ and the light of Christ in our lives because our contact with God needs to be cleansed. That is repentance. That is what John the Baptist was all about. This is what Jesus meant when he said at the foot washing on Holy Thursday in the Book of John: “To be my disciple, you must be clean.” Repentance is washing away the sin which is deep within our lives, so that the power, love and light of God can flow into us and through us to the world [END OF ILLUSTRATION].
We will be constantly repenting, which is turning away from sins, as God reveals them to us by his Spirit.
- Repentance is a process —– Repentance is something that is on-going. The Bible tell us that we will be inconsistent, and we will struggle. But the point is that a struggle is involved. A person who is not resisting sin and who is not fighting against sin is not a Christian. That person doesn’t have a changed mind.
Hebrews 3:12 (NIV)12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.
My wife and I haven’t figured out how to grow flowers, yet. They keep dying on us! We are exactly the same. If we are not given light, food, and water from the mouth of God coming from His Word and His Spirit, we’re nothing but wilting flowers.
3a) Things that don’t grow don’t live —— If our relationship with God is not growing, it is not alive, and we are fooling ourselves. The Christian church is the Body of Christ, with Jesus being the head. If a finger loses its connect with the hand and arm, it will fall off, won’t it? Just like the Walking Dead. We are the walking dead if sin controls our lives. Sin makes us zombies. But the Spirit makes us alive again, because God has poured out his Spirit on us to show us that he’s not through with us !!!!
3b) God is not through with us —- If God calls us his children, and children can’t survive without their parents. But if we will continue to stretch out our hands to our Daddy, then he will continue to love on us.
Hebrews 3:13 (NIV) But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
3c) Encourage each other daily — Let the shoulders of our brothers and sisters in Christ be the cane, the wall, the support that we rest on to gain strength. We need each other daily.
We are all in need of grace and mercy from God and from each other. We are all sinners who need to confess our sins daily. In this journey of repentance, let us all change our minds about sin, and about the whole idea of “church.” You don’t leave your “home” to go to church. On Sundays and Wednesdays, you leave your HOUSE to come HOME, because your true home is anywhere the presence of God is. So let us prepare ourselves each day to encourage other Christians, and be encouraged as we become people of changed minds, and turn from our sins to God’s presence.
“Repentance is siding with God against self.” ― Todd Nibert
“No evil dooms us hopelessly except the evil we love, and desire to continue in, and make no effort to escape from. ” ― George Eliot, Daniel Deronda