November 3, 2019 What is Repentance?

What Is Repentance?


Our scripture reading this morning is Luke 13:1-5. READ. PRAY.


[Illus] One of my favorite foods is steak or prime rib cooked medium. Most people do not have any memories prior to three or four years of age. They look at me in disbelief when I tell them that I have memories going back to 8 months old. I remember learning how to walk at one year. And I have a memory of sitting in my high chair between the ages of 6 months and 8 months being fed baby food by my mother. I don’t know what it was I only remember that it was green and I didn’t care for it. My mother was eating a steak and what she had looked better than what I had. I wanted some. The trouble I had was that I could not talk. So I did the only thing I could do. I pointed to it and made noises. She began asking me, “Do you want some?” Even though I could not speak I understood what she was saying. You parents of young children under 18 months, don’t think that your children do not understand you. Talk to them. They know what you are saying most of the time. And remember that they know what you are saying to your spouse, too. So, if you’re going to argue, do it when they are not around.

When she asked me if I wanted some I could not even nod my head yes, so I just kept pointing. She kept asking, “Do you want some?” I started getting annoyed. I actually remember thinking, “She must know that I want some, why does she keep asking?” Of course, I did not think the words because I had no words to think. But I thought those thoughts. This proves that thoughts do not need words to be understood they only need words to be communicated.

She then gave me another spoonful of that green stuff. I thought, “I’ll show her,” and I spit it out with all the force I could muster. It went flying everywhere. She got the message so she cut me a tiny little piece of steak and gave it to me. When it got into my mouth I thought, “This is very, very good!” She would not give me another piece despite my protests, wisely so because meat is not for babies it is for those who are mature.

Milk is for the very young…and green stuff all mushed up. But now, even getting past middle-age I still like milk once in a while and green stuff. Soup is like milk: easy to digest and good for you. One of our favorite places to go to dine is Sweet Tomatoes in Creve Couer. All they serve is soup and salad but is very fresh. And it is good for you, even as an adult.


For over a year now I have been serving up meat and potatoes. We preached through the gospel of Mark, but not in a light way. We dug deep. Then I covered some parables that are either often neglected or passed over in a way that made them non-applicable to believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Then we spent 10 weeks on the Judgment Seat of Christ. This has all been meat and potatoes. This morning we are going to serve up some soup – easy to digest, but nutritious nevertheless. It is OK for the mature, which I believe most of us are, to be reminded of the fundamental and important things that the Lord has given to us.


Do you know that sometimes we lose sight of what is true even on a basic level? This is especially true when you consider that we often want to put a good spin on things when a good spin is not what is needed. We often want to avoid matters when they require tough decisions. Repentance is a subject that is considered “milk” by the author of Hebrews. But it is also an all-important subject and we need to be clear on what it means and what it produces.


This morning the Lord wants you to know the necessity of repentance, the nature of repentance, and the fruits of repentance.


  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.


  1. 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.

[Illus] Andrew Jackson & Peter Cartwright.


  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?