In my previous blog post we looked at what repentance is, why it is necessary and how it is meant to be part of our lifestyle.
But What Does Repentance Look Like?
“And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. 17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.” (Luke 15:11-24)
This passage shows us that repenting means:
I. See and Hear What You Have Done Wrong
In order for us to repent of our sin we first need to see our sin. We cannot defeat what we do not see.
Verse 17 “But when he came to himself
“I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.” (Psalm 32:5)
“Open their eyes so that they turn from darkness to light.” (Acts 26:18)
Application question: Do you see it as shameful or good to confess your sin to God?
II. Experience Genuine Sorrow
Verse 18, I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.
“I am sorry for my sin.” (Psalm 38:18)
In order to apply this it is important to understand the difference between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow
1. Worldly sorrow is outward; godly sorrow is inward
Worldly sorrow shows outward signs of grief, but inwardly has no remorse. Godly sorrow is deep within our hearts.
“They were cut to their hearts.” (Acts 2:37)
2. Worldly sorrow feels bad about the punishment; godly sorrow feels bad about the offense.
The godly person is not sorry that they got caught, but sorry that they sinned.
3. Worldly sorrow is proud, godly sorrow is humble.
Worldly sorrow is proud and says, “I thought I was better than this”. Godly sorrow is humble and realizes that we are sinners in need of God’s forgiveness.
4. Worldly sorrow is condemning, godly sorrow is full of faith
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
“As our sin is ever before, so God’s promise must be ever before us… The weeping is not good which blinds the eye of faith.”- Thomas Watson, The Godly Man's Picture
Application Question: Do you believe that your sin is against God or that you just make mistakes?
III. Confessing and Admitting
Verse 18-19 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son.
“The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works"- Augustine
1. Confess to God
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.” (Psalm 51:1-4)
Confessions of our sin must begin with God. All our sin is ultimately against Him. Therefore, He is the first One to whom we should acknowledge our sin.
2. Confess to others
“Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)
If we are feeling condemned, our godly friend can encourage us with faith. If we are feeling self righteous, our godly friend can call out a warning. Confessing to others protects us from being victims of our deceitful heart. It also helps us to hold one another accountable as we seek to repent. All these things bring spiritual healing to us.
3. Confess specifically
“A general confession might save us from humiliation and shame, but it will not ignite inward healing.”- Robert Foster
We like to remain vague about our sin, because we can find it embarrassing. We’d rather say, “I was really frustrated yesterday” instead of, “I became angry and cursed out my boss.” However, if we are vague about our sin, then we feel vague about our forgiveness. Jesus died for specific people, who commit specific sins. If we want to feel the forgiveness of our Savior, then we must admit the sins that need His forgiveness.
Application Question: Do you see confessing sin as embarrassing or a benefit?
IV. Turn from Evil (Put off)
Verse 20 And he arose and came to his father.
He left his old way of life
V. Turn to God (Put On)
Verse 20 And he arose and came to his father.
Repentance is not just putting off sin (turning away from it), but it is also putting on godliness (turning to Jesus).
“Put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:24)
1. Put on faith in Jesus
A) His righteousness
“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. (Romans 6:6-8)
Repentance does not start with our actions, it starts with belief in Jesus’ action. He came, died and rose again so that our sins would no longer be held against us.
“For our sake, He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
If we have faith in Jesus then, when God looks at us, He sees us not in our sins, but clothed in the righteousness of Christ.
B) His power
Jesus’ death on the cross has also freed us from our sins. His death set us free from our slavery to sin. If we try to repent in our own strength we will inevitably fail. We must trust that Jesus is strong enough to break us free from any sin that we face.
“The power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:56b-57)
2. Put on being filled with the Holy Spirit
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other” (Galatians 5:16-17a)
Our sin comes from inside us, but there is another force at work inside us as well. The Holy Spirit dwells in the heart of every believer in Jesus. Our sinful hearts cause us to sin, but the Holy Spirit helps us to be godly. The Christian’s life is not just about resisting sin, it is about pursuing godliness.
The Holy Spirit wants to help us do good things. We put off sin and we put on godliness.
What does it mean to be godly? If the Holy Spirit is at work in the root of our heart, then there will be good fruit in our life.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22)
Examples of putting off sin and putting on godliness:
· Put off anger, put on love
· Put off complaining, put on joy
· Put off worry, put on peace
· Put off harshness, put on gentleness
3. Remember how God embraces the repentant sinner
“Verse 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.” (Luke 15:20-24)
Friends, Jesus said he came so that, “my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (Joh 15:11 ESV). Let’s continue to pursue repentance so that we might experience the unparalleled, all satisfying, glorious joy of the Lord.
Grace and peace,