The Joy Of Repentance
II Corinthians 7:10-11 - “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. 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.”
THE JOY OF WHAT…?
Many leaders in the church today do not understand the need for scriptural repentance. First, it is impossible to become a Christian without being confronted with one’s own sin and sinfulness. We do not become a Christian by belonging to a so-called Christian organization or church. We are not a Christian because we act morally (at times) or because we agree with the dogma of a particular moral agenda. We do not take on the true attributes of Christ when we do “good things” for the community. While we certainly want to see morality and good works surface in the life of a Christian, they must originate from a source that is outside of oneself, and this requires a born-again experience. A person must see his or her status as a sinner before he can accept his need for a Saviour. Unless we repent of acts of sin and accept the fact that we are sinners separated from God by sin, we cannot be saved, and we are not in right relationship with God. Therefore, the preacher who does not proclaim the scriptural truths above will never see the joy of repentance on the face of a new believer, that is, the joy and relief felt and expressed by being cleansed by faith in the precious blood of Jesus. In order for people to experience the joy of repentance, they must first see their need for repentance.
Repentance is a relatively simple procedure. In it, one recognizes that he is moving in a wrong direction. The conviction of this truth is brought on by the operation of the Spirit of God, in most cases, promoted by the proclamation of God’s Word, the Bible. When a person, saved or unsaved, acknowledges that he is heading down the wrong road, stops, turns, and heads in the opposite direction, he has repented.
THE STRENGTH TO CONTINUE IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
Repentance itself does not bring the supernatural strength to maintain walking in the right direction. Strength for our walk can only come when we maintain the proper object of faith. As we continue to trust exclusively in the finished work of Christ, the grace and strength needed to continue in the right direction comes from God through the person of the Holy Spirit. Without faith in the Cross, the individual Christian will be constantly repenting (we should thank God always for this option expressed in I John 1:9). He will come under conviction, head the right way, and find that he doesn’t have the wherewithal to continue. That strength only comes through faith in the Cross. Does a person who fails in the same area again and again truly repent? In most cases, I sincerely believe so! However, without faith in the right object - the Cross - he will succumb to the pull to turn again to the wrong direction.
THE BENEFITS OF REPENTANCE
The scripture verses above state the benefits of repentance in the life of a believer. There are seven in all:
Carefulness means there is a new eagerness to do that which is right.
Clearing of yourselves indicates the removal of the guilt, stain, and weight of sins past.
Indignation indicates that the believer is much displeased with his past action or activity.
Fear indicates that a proper reverence for God has been restored.
Vehement desire indicates a great desire to act right.
Zeal indicates that a fresh zealousness for right living has surfaced in the heart.
Revenge here speaks of the believer’s attitude toward acts of sin.
He is trusting God to retaliate against the sin that destroyed him and to restore what was lost due to sin. A preacher who does not understand these benefits withholds them from his congregation when he refuses to preach against sin. We must rebuke sin and point believers to the strength to overcome sin - faith in the Cross of Christ!