November 14, 2021 IF


Nov. 14, 2021




Read Matthew 11:20-24.


Why did Jesus denounce these cities? He names three contemporary cities: Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. All three of these cities were located on the Northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. These were the cities of Jesus Himself and his disciples. Jesus had made Capernaum his home during his ministry and Bethsaida was the hometown of Andrew, Peter, and Philip. As such, the Lord had done more miracles in these towns than others.


These cities were really typical cities of Israel. They had good economies, relying on fishing and farming for their income. They were religious because the remains of synagogues were found in them. They were family-oriented because the family was the focal point of Jewish life even then. These were not cities full of the dregs of society. If anything, they were filled with good citizens who sought to live by what God had revealed. Yet Jesus rebukes them.


He rebukes them for refusing to repent.


“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. [1]


See the omniscience of our Lord. Omniscience, of course, is the attribute of God that means he knows all things. There is nothing hidden from him. His omniscience is so thorough that he not only knows all things that are, but he even knows all things that could be or would be if circumstances were different. Jesus shares this omniscience with the Father. (There are a few things that Jesus does not know only because he voluntarily “emptied himself” when he became a human being. For example, when he was on earth, he did not know the time of his second coming.)


Jesus knew that, if had done the same miracles in Tyre then they would have repented. He knows the hearts of people…even those long past! The peoples of Tyre and Sidon were guilty of pride (Isaiah 23:9). They were wealthy and, like their king, their wealth even contributed to their pride (Ezekiel 28:5). If the Lord has blessed you with wealth, be on guard! Riches can lead to pride! The Lord hates pride (Prov. 6:16-17; 15:25; 16:5; 21:4; Psalm 101:5; Is. 2:12; Jer. 13:9; I John 2:16; James 4:6). Flee pride and nurture humility. Then the Lord will grant you more grace! Do you desire more of the favor of God? Then cultivate humility and it will come to you (James 4:6)!



Then the Lord, as he has done so many times in this gospel already, brings up the judgment day once again!


But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.[2]


Here we see the principle of judgment based upon knowledge. Everyone’s judgment will be partially determined by how much they knew. The populace of Tyre knew what was right and wrong because all people do! The moral law of God is written on every person’s heart (Romans 2:14-16). Yet, the populace of Chorazin and Bethsaida knew more. They heard both the preaching of the Son of God and saw his miracles. But they would not repent!


And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.[3]


This is even more amazing! We know the great wickedness of Sodom. They were rapists, homosexuals, and simply mean, not caring about the poor. Jesus says that, if they saw the miracles that he did in Capernaum, enough would have repented so that the cities would not have been destroyed. The upstanding residents of Capernaum ought to have repented, but they did not, so they will go to Hades on Judgment Day! Again…the principle of knowledge determining the severity of our judgment is spoken by our Lord.


Jesus said, “If they saw…” If! We may turn this around, may we not?


If you had not been born in the United States, where there are Bibles in every book store, Bibles in every library, churches in every town, then it would be more tolerable for you on Judgment Day.


It is not just that there is a church in every city[4], there are many churches in every town. There has been, and still is, good preaching and teaching in many churches in many towns. Yet, so few avail themselves to learn. They will be without excuse.


But it is even worse than that. There are many who actually attend church regularly and they hear good teaching and preaching every week but they refuse to allow what they have heard to change the way they live. They continue in the same old sins. They continue to neglect their human spirit and, instead, just live for comfort and pleasure.


“If they had not been born in the United States it would be more tolerable for them on the day of judgment.”


Jesus is upbraiding three cities: Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. These are cities of God’s people! Because God’s people are refusing to repent they will have a difficult and severe judgment!


Because repentance is expected by the Lord we need to have a full understanding of it.


  1. The Necessity of Repentance.
  1. We will explore the nature or meaning of repentance momentarily. But we should begin with a basic definition first so we understand of what we speak. Repentance is “to have a change of mind and heart about one’s own sin issuing in regret and to have a turn in purpose.” REPEAT.
  2. In repentance sin is the thing to be repented of, and sin is a transgression of the law of God. (I John 3:4)
  1. The first and chief thing required by the law is supreme love for God. What is the greatest sin? [pause] The greatest sin must be to break the greatest commandment. Jesus said that the greatest commandment was to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and all thy soul and all thy mind. The lack of love and honor for God is our great wickedness.
  2. But men are often under self-deception. We want to think that love for God is some kind of warm feeling for Him. So, once in a while a man will feel some kindness or warm feeling for God, maybe when he views the majesty of a mountain, the pleasant sound of a river, the beauty of fall leaves, or the splendor of a sunset  Or, when someone loves us, life seems just right and a speck of gratitude arises in our heart. We then interpret that as love for God, forgetting how we murmured against Him when things did not go well.
  3. The Lord has given us His law as a measuring stick to see if we truly love God. Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” The same holds true for God the Father. If we love Him we will keep His commandments.
  4. The failure to keep His commandments shows that we do not love God and are, therefore, guilty of breaking the greatest of the commandments.
  1. Never was any sinner pardoned by God while impenitent.
  1. I Kings 8:46-50 This divine principle, which is an unchangeable requirement, is true throughout the OT and is present in every prophet and every book.
  2. It is equally true and necessary under the New Covenant. Acts 3:19 -          Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,  Repentance must come before sins are forgiven.

[Illus] We can imagine a king during a war coming across a traitor to the kingdom. He is caught, expresses sorrow and says that the king is his true king, but that he still intends on helping the enemy. His words mean nothing. His refusal to repent shows where his real fealty lies. The king will never pardon him. So it is with the Lord Himself. We must turn away from our sins in true repentance if we desire forgiveness.


  1. The Nature of Repentance. “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” In view of these solemn words it is tremendously important that each of us should seek and obtain from God the repentance that He requires, not resting content with anything short of this. We will first consider what saving repentance is not.
  1. Some actions or feelings can be confused with saving repentance.
  1. Saving repentance is not conviction under the preaching of God’s word. A.W. Pink, an author and preacher from the first half of the last century, wrote: “I have seen the faces of strong men pale under a searching message yet the next day all effects had left them.” Felix, the governor of Judea, trembled under the preaching of the apostle Paul but he remained unconverted. (Acts 24:25)
  2. Saving repentance is not enjoying the messages of preachers and being “almost persuaded.” King Agrippa was almost persuaded by Paul but “almost” does not count with God. With God it is all or nothing.
  3. Saving repentance is not humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God. Millions will hear a message from a preacher or they will hear the gospel from a friend and they will be unaffected. It is far better to be humbled and do something about what we hear. But the mere fact of being humbled is not equivalent to repentance. A solemn example of this is found in Ahab. That wicked king of Israel coveted Naboth’s vineyard. When his wife heard of it she plotted Naboth’s murder and carried it out. Ahab turned a blind eye to all these happenings. Once he was rebuked by Elijah we are told that he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, fasted, and went about softly. Yet, in the very next chapter we see him rebelling against God once again so that the Lord had to kill him.
  1. The marks of true repentance can be seen in those people of God to whom the Lord ascribes repentance.
  1. First, though, we can understand its signification by the meaning of the word itself. The word for “repent” in the original language is metanoeo which means “change of mind.” It does not mean a change of opinion but a change of mind. Not just an incidental change of mind, but a complete change of mind. This changed mind is not brought about by a mere intellectual process but is the result of the understanding being changed by the conscience – a conscience that has been supernaturally ploughed by the Holy Spirit. In consequence of this there is a judging or condemning of self, a taking sides with God against myself. This is how the mind changes! It takes God’s side!

[Illus] Late for conference in Dallas, TX.

  1. Saving repentance is full ownership, without excuses (such as blaming God for our circumstances or blaming others for our own actions, thoughts, or feelings), of our sins and our condition. Jesus told of the tax collector who would not even lift his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast (“I am to blame!”) saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner!” (Luke 18:13) He unsparingly judged himself while the Pharisee judged another. Similarly, the thief on the cross said to his fellow thief, “Do you not fear God? We are under the same sentence of condemnation. We indeed justly. We are receiving the due reward for our deeds.” Saving repentance is full ownership, without excuses, of our sins and our condition.
  2. Saving repentance is accompanied by a regret and sorrow for the sin, not just a regret over the consequences. 2 Cor 7:10 – “For godly sorrow produces a repentance that leads to salvation…” Judas was filled with regret because of the consequences of his betrayal, not because of his sin. But David said, “I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin.” (Psalm 39:18)
  3. Saving repentance is accompanied by a hatred for sin and a firm commitment to forsake it, not for a time, but forever.       let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts;

let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him,

and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

(Isaiah 55:7 ESV)

In Psalm 143 David prayed, “Give ear to my pleas for mercy!” He foresaw that he would receive that mercy because of his sins and continues, “Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go…” This was indeed David’s experience. After he sinned with Bathsheba and had her husband murdered he was both rebuked by Nathan and disciplined by the Lord. He was not the same man afterward. His genuine repentance manifested itself in his everlasting desire to know the ways of the Lord, in other words, to obey Him.


So it is with all who truly repent. They are not the same. They hate sin, especially their own, and they forsake it at every revelation of it. They may stumble in ignorance, because we are often blind to our own sins, but as soon as their sins are made known to themselves they renounce and abandon them, pleading for mercy. Sin is a holy horror to them.


  1. The Fruits of Repentance. True repentance always results in observable change.
  1. True repentance brings about joy and gladness in the penitent. Repentance is borne out of misery because that is the nature of sin. On the outside, when first presented, sin looks appealing. But it is a deception. Like a prostitute who may look good in her make-up but on the inside is full of deadly diseases, so is all sin.

When a person sees their own condition before a holy God, as well as what their own sin has wrought in their lives, it is an unhappy and wretched experience. But once we turn to the Lord, calling out for mercy, our sorrow is turned to joy. David prayed in Psalm 51: “Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness, let the bones that you have broken rejoice.”

That indeed was his experience. David wrote great songs of praise and joy after his repentance.


  1. True repentance results in restitution. Most often our sin effects other people. It harms them. When we become aware of that real repentance is accompanied by a desire to make things right, not to sweep things under the rug. Consider Zacchaeus. Luke 19:1-9. READ.

[Illus] Coming home from AF.


C. True repentance results in meeting with God’s people regularly. Any so-called repentance that results in someone not meeting with the church is a false repentance.


D.Finally, true repentance brings forth the fruit of loving repentance.

Over and over in scripture we see that those who repented themselves proclaimed repentance and rejoiced to see others repent.

Think about Peter. After he denied the Lord he repented and then he himself proclaimed in Acts 2 the great need for repentance.


  1. Conclusion

We have seen that repentance is a change of mind and heart that brings about a turn in our purpose. It is a turning away from our sin and a turning to God.


  • It is essential to receiving forgiveness. Without repentance there is no forgiveness.
  • It is more than conviction.
  • It is more than being humble.
  • It is a full ownership of our sin without excuses.
  • It is accompanied by regret and hatred for sin.
  • It is a forsaking of sin.
  • Joy, restitution, and love of repentance issue out of the wellspring of Holy Ghost-wrought repentance. Have you had this experience?


Repentance is needed for the forgiveness of our sins. If you have not truly repented, today is the day. Do not tarry.  You must both repent and believe the gospel – that Christ has borne your sins upon the cross and that he rose from the dead. Repent, believe, and be assured of your forgiveness!


If you will repent then you will face the judgment with confidence and assurance!






[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 11:21). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 11:22). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 11:23). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] According to the revelation of the New Testament, there is actually only one church in each city, although there may be more than one gathering. I am using the word, church, in the more current sense of the term, that is, more as a synonym for congregation.