Thursday, March 18, 2010

Repentance Gone Wrong

I was surfing some blogs tonight and ran across this blog on the Acts 29 blog site.

I was moved by this blog and wanted to share a portion of it with you. If you would like to check out the entire blog you can find it here


False repentance conflicts with the biblical pattern by displaying our pride and self-interest instead of displaying contrition. Consider the example of the nation of Israel in Psalm 78:32-35:

In spite of all this, they still sinned;

despite his wonders, they did not believe.

So he made their days vanish like a breath,

and their years in terror.

When he killed them, they sought him;

they repented and sought God earnestly.

They remembered that God was their rock,

the Most High God their redeemer.

Israel clearly experienced a severe discipline at the hands of the Lord. This judgment obviously produced a very unhappy situation for God’s people, driving them to seek God in repentance. They earnestly repented, remembered and sought the Lord. Surely this repenting would rectify their familial relationship with God. But notice how God views their repentance as the Psalm continues:

But they flattered him with their mouths;

they lied to him with their tongues.

Their heart was not steadfast toward him;

they were not faithful to his covenant. (78:36-37)

Here we see the illustration of pretender repentance: words without heart. Israel’s repentance was insincere. They told God that they were sorry with their mouths, but He knew that their hearts were still committed to slavishly following their sins.

Instead of real brokenness over their iniquities, God’s people feigned repentance to obtain rescue from the consequences of their sins, but not the sins themselves. As such, God did not recognize their repentance – because pretender repentance is not repentance at all.

Israel’s example should help us see that sometimes the greatest battle with sin is our very repentance of it. Listen to Paul’s encouragement to the church at Corinth:

As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved,

but because you were grieved into repenting. For

you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss

through us. For godly grief produces a repentance

that leads to salvation without regret, whereas

worldly grief produces death. (1 Corinthians 7:9-10)

Pretender repentance is a dead end. If we demonstrate anything but godly grief over our sin, we will experience a lifetime of losses. Therefore, if we would fight sin well, some of us may actually need to repent of how we have repented in the past so that the grace of God is exposed and not our arrogance.

This is one of those times when I wish I had written this blog. I would only add that pretender repentance makes us feel good about ourselves but it rarely fools godly people and never fools a holy God!

Lord forgive me of the times when I have played the repentance game!

Pastor Val

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