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  • Writer's pictureJeff Chavez

False Repentance

We learned that the Only Way of escape from man’s miserable state and future ruin is through the finished work of the perfect and sinless Savior, Jesus Christ. And we won’t be ashamed to say that He is “THE WAY” not “a way” only. If this is true and indeed this is the truth, what response does the LORD require to take hold of the only way of escape?

In thinking about our response, let us not ignore the fact that we are desperate of God’s grace.

Christ’s work is already finished. No works on our end would meet God’s requirement. But how can we own God’s salvation?

It is by FAITH in Christ and REPENTANCE unto God. These two are essential to salvation. It is a must that we respond in faith and repentance. We can read this in Mark 1:14-15, and Acts 20:21,

Now after John was taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
…solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 

If you have not repented and believed, you have no part in Christ. Repentance is a door (shuts out sin) and faith is a post (where the door is attached). A door without a post is useless. They are inseparable. According to John Murray, in his book Redemption: Accomplished and Applied, regeneration becomes vocal in our minds in the exercise of faith and repentance…The faith that is unto salvation is a penitent faith and the repentance that is unto life [and God] is a believing repentance (p. 113).

For now, let us look at what repentance is. To know true repentance let us discuss the false ones, the fake kinds of repentance. One puritan says that these are deceits about repentance. May you take heed to these truths because you can fall into believing that you repented enough but end up deceiving yourself.

Produced only by a sense of shame

This pertains to a person who is ashamed of his sin. But if the sin is not discovered, his feeling is okay, he won’t repent. He is sorrowful because he was exposed, and other people have judged him. He is not sorry for his sin because it is detestable in God’s sight, but because his sin dragged and exposed him. This is not evangelical repentance.

Produced by tasting the consequence of sin

An example of this is a man who repented because he lost his family due to his addiction. Not because he despises his sin because it is an insult to the Holy One but because he was imprisoned or left alone. It is simply regret and not repentance unto God.

A repentant soul is a sorrowful soul because he sinned, and he sees his sinfulness before the presence of God. According to Thomas Watson,

It is one thing to be a terrified sinner, and another to be a repenting sinner. Sense of guilt is enough to breed terror. Infusion of grace breeds repentance. If pain and trouble were sufficient for repentance, then the damned in hell would be the most penitent, for they are most in anguish... There may be terror and yet no change of heart (Repentance).

Produced by fear of the judgment to come

This deceit pertains to a man who thinks of the future consequences of his sin. He realizes that if he won’t stop his sinful life, he will suffer in hell eternally.

We need to clarify that we do not discredit preaching the reality of hell. We also preach about the judgment to come, and God can use it for man’s salvation. But if a man fears hell alone, that he doesn’t want to go there, and he cannot see that God offers reconciliation in Christ, he has not truly repented.

If you assured this man that there is no punishment for sin, that there is no hell prepared for the rebels, he will continue to live in it and will delight in indulging his flesh all his life. This kind of repentance is selfish. Oh reader, Don’t be satisfied with the fear of punishment. Fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell (Matthew 10:28). You must see that hell is real because God’s wrath abides there.

Produced by regret on wasting his early life

This man realizes that he wasted so much time in his early years and wanted to live it right this time. All of his worldliness, rebellion, and lustful engagement with the flesh do not add up to his lasts days on earth anymore. He wants to stop all of them and serve in the church so he can be active in the church to make up for the wasted years. This one is not true repentance since he only wants to have a sense of accomplishment or to leave a legacy before he leaves the world. He desires to live his life now to the fullest in serving others.

However, a life not spent with the singular motive of glorifying God, having been rescued from the perils of sin and washed by the blood of the Lamb, is a wasted life.

Produced by deep sorrow but ends with self

The last one is the most deceitful of all: Judas’ repentance. Almost all of the element of repentance is there. Read Matthew 27:1-5 and you’ll see.

Judas’ repentance is almost a true repentance for he had deep sorrow over the sin that he committed, he changed his mind (seeing sin as sin and returned the silver coins), and he confessed his sin (he owned his sin and didn’t shift the blame to God or to anyone).

However, this still falls short of true repentance since it resulted in self-medication. This is partial repentance only; he did it his way. It is not repentance unto God. It is repentance unto self. He neither sought the LORD nor trusted in His forgiveness.

Compared to Peter whose repentance was proven true since he went back to the LORD (Isaiah 55:6-7). Judas forsook his way, but he didn’t return to the LORD.

Though God can use some of the five false kinds of repentance above like what happened with the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), if they stay there, they remain false ones.

We will learn more about true repentance next time but may we make sure that our repentance does not fall under the false five above. What kind of repentance do you have? Paul clarified that true repentance is not too broad to be mistaken but clear enough to understand that it has a direction. It goes back to God. The five false ones above are repentance unto self, not unto God.

It is not your righteousness or your repentance that is acceptable to God but the righteousness of another, the LORD Jesus Christ. Come unto Him just as you are.

Pray that your repentance may be true before God.

When you come to realize your sinfulness before God’s presence, may you boldly say this, “I stand in your promise that there is forgiveness in Christ, my Redeemer.”

Note: This post is taken from our pastor’s sermon during our midweek service at Bella Vista Outreach.


Posted with permission from Bro Jeff Chavez, Deacon, Herald of Grace Covenant Bible Church - HGCBC Cavite. Original blog post here.


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1 Comment

JeffChavez 1689
JeffChavez 1689
Nov 16, 2022

Thank you for sharing.

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