Today on Fellowship in the Word, Pastor Bill Gebhardt challenges you to become a fully functioning follower of Jesus Christ. That's what I love so much about the Lord. Steadfast love of the Lord never changes. His mercies never come to an end. They're new every morning. New every morning. Great is thy faithfulness.
Boy, do I love that. No matter how bad I messed up my life. You see, no matter how many people I hurt or how deeply I hurt them, no matter what I've done against God, if I'm honest with God and I truly repent, there's restoration.
You see, there's restoration. The grace of God shines in a repentant heart. Thank you for joining us today on this edition of Fellowship in the Word with Pastor Bill Gebhardt. Fellowship in the Word is the radio ministry of Fellowship Bible Church located in Metairie, Louisiana.
Let's join Pastor Bill Gebhardt now as once again he shows us how God's Word meets our world. Have you ever watched somebody on the news and you find out that this person has perpetrated some great crime and it was horrible? And then when you see it in a paper or you see it on the news, you start realizing when the person then stands up and says, well, I'm really sorry.
What are you thinking? Yeah, they're sorry. They're sorry they got caught. That's what they're sorry about. That's a worldly sorrow.
Oh, I'm just so sorry. You see, that's not repentance. That's not repentance at all. That's not what he is saying. Let me ask you this. When somebody rebukes you because of sin or in some way, when you have to make an apology for sin in your life, how do you respond?
How do you like a lot of people say the generic? I'm sorry. I said, I'm sorry.
Well, isn't that all about you? You see what? I don't think that's nearly enough. Here's something even worse. If I hurt you, I'm sorry. If I hurt you, I'm sorry.
Wow. I didn't know if was on the table. You see, I mean, it's that's kind of up to you. I mean, if it didn't hurt you, then I'm not sorry. But if I did.
I'm sorry. I hurt you. But that was not my intention. Now, sometimes that can happen.
If it's not a nondescript issue, just a miscommunication. I get it there. But if you sin. What are you saying when I'm sorry, I hurt you, but it wasn't my intention? You know, I have such noble intentions.
I have these really noble. I'm a noble person with noble intentions. Now I did something horrible to you, but I have noble intentions. And you hear that all the time. Hey, I'm sorry that you got hurt.
What's that mean? Well, if you weren't so sensitive, there'd be nothing to apologize for. I'm sorry you got hurt. That's not repentance. You see, that's not repentance at all. Repentance is I'm sorry. It's totally my fault. I was completely wrong. I have no excuses.
Will you forgive me? Yeah, it sounds a lot different, doesn't it? Boy, that's hard for us. We're always trying in some way to rationalize our action. So let's go to the three questions we started with. What are the marks of a genuine or what is the mark of genuine repentance?
The simple answer is this. A changed heart. Because when your heart changes, your thoughts change. And when your heart and thoughts change, your life changes. It's a changed heart when you repent. Now, again, when we're confronted with sin, the responses we often give when it comes to a changed heart is sometimes we just go into denial.
That's what Cain did. Remember? Hey, where's your brother?
I don't know. Am I my brother's keeper? Well, you buried him. You ought to know where he's at. See, he just denies it. That's him.
That's that's Cain. I'm just denying it. Secondly, another response evasion. Someone confronts your sin and you start evasion. That's what I call word games.
You make up excuses. By the way, this is usually the teenage mantra. Hey, I was really not even known they were going to do that. We were just all in the car and they all went there and all everybody was there and I was just going along. Well, that's not new, by the way. And if you're a parent and you buy that, you have another issue. You see, there's some kind of word game, some kind of excuses. I'm a victim.
That happens a lot in our culture. I did something terrible. We have to understand I'm a victim. I just couldn't help it. I'm just a victim of what the circumstances were. And I was victimized by the whole thing. Sometimes evasion, sometimes denial. Remember what President Clinton did?
You remember this? This is evasion. It all depends on what the meaning of the word is. Is. That's what he said before it came to repentance. He said it all depends on what the meaning of the word is. Is. That's evasion. Third way.
And this is what he talks about here. The sorrow that the world produces. Worldly regret. Worldly regret. If I could summarize it, I'm so sorry. But not sorry enough to quit.
That's worldly regret. Gary Ingrid, who is a pastor and an author writing a book on forgiveness, says that there was a man close to him in his church in the context seems to imply a lay leader in their church. And he decided to have an adulterous affair. And so Ingrid told him he'd like to come into his office so he could speak to him.
And so the man came in and assuring Ingrid as he comes in that he's repentant. And he said to him, he said, you know, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry for what I did to you and our friendship. I'm so sorry what I did to the reputation of our church. I'm so sorry what I did to my wife. I'm so sorry what I did to my daughter. I'm so sorry. And Gary said, OK, good.
Here's the phone. Call the other woman and tell her it's over now. He looked at Gary and said, I don't think I can do that.
Ingrid writes right afterwards. You may be sorry, but that's not repentance. You see, that's not repentance at all.
That's worldly regret. That's all that that is. Show you an example of in scripture. Turn with me to Hebrews, chapter 12.
In Esau. Now, you know, Esau is a twin and he was the firstborn. And in their world, that meant he got the blessing. But somehow he gave up the blessing, if you remember, for some oatmeal.
I mean, that's pretty much it. He gave up the blessing to Jacob. Now, watch. In verse 16 of Hebrews 12. I'll pick it on verse 15.
Excuse me. He said, see to it that no one comes short of the grace of God, that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble. And by it, many are defiled and that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau. Who sold his own birthright for a single meal, he says, for, you know, that even afterwards when he desired to inherit the blessing. Notice he wants to be blessed.
He desires it. He said he was rejected for he found no place for repentance. Though he sought it with tears. Wait a minute, he sought repentance and he cried about it. Worldly sorrow. You see, he wasn't sorrowful about sin. He was sorrowful. He didn't get the blessing. That's a completely different thing than repentance. So you can have denial, evasion, worldly regret or genuine repentance.
What's that look like? Well, turn to meet with me to Psalm 51. Psalm 51. Psalm 51.
David. Here's his prayer. He says, Be gracious to me, O God, according to your loving kindness.
The Hebrew word is Hasid. It means mercy, long suffering, grace, love, loyal love, all those kind of things. Be gracious to me, O God, according to your loving kindness, according to the greatness of your compassion. Blot out, he says, my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
Notice the ownership. He then says, For I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me against you. You only I have sinned and done what is evil in your sight so that you are justified when you speak.
And blameless, he says, when you judge me. Down in verse 10, he says, Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Verse 12. Why repentance is so important. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. And then I will teach transgressions your way and sinners will be converted to you. There's purpose and meaning. He says, Deliver me from blood guiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation.
And 14, then my tongue will joyfully sing to your righteousness. Now, what does this all come out of? He's going to say, I want my joy back. I want purpose back.
I want meaning back. Verse 17. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart. O God, you will not despise.
Change his heart. That's repentance. Notice it centers on God, not on him. It centers on sin, not the consequences. And it centers on change, not the shame of the sin, but real change. So what is the mark of genuine repentance? To change the heart.
President Clinton was right. I need a humble and contrite heart to be the man that I want to be. Second question. Does repentance happen in a moment or is it a process? It starts in a moment, but it's a process. First step of the process, I will call it reality check. You take a reality check.
In other words, what you do is you see things as they really are without rationalization or excuse. Do you remember the prodigal son? How he left his father and his brother, took his inheritance and squandered it in another land. And he's there and things are not going well for him.
And then Luke writes this. And he came to his senses. He came to his senses.
What's that mean? He had a reality check. The reality check is what am I doing? By the way, that's happened to many of you. Many of you got yourself in a state of sin. And I know that there was a moment in your life because you told me and you said, what am I doing? Why did I do this?
How did this happen? The most consistent thing I hear from people, especially in areas of infidelity. I don't know who that was. That wasn't me.
I don't know who that was. That's a reality check coming to your senses. The second step, reversal of behavior and renouncing the sin. You just say, I'm going to change. I renounce the sin. Thirdly, requesting forgiveness.
Oh, God, that's exactly what David does in here. Lord bought out my transgression, created me a clean heart. Proverbs twenty eight thirteen says he who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces their sins finds mercy. God is extremely merciful. The fourth step reality check.
Reversible behavior. Requesting forgiveness is restitution. Turn with me to Luke Chapter 19 in the New Testament. Luke Chapter 19 in the New Testament.
You know the story, but there's something remarkable here. Chapter 19 of Luke, Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through, and there was a man called by the name of Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector. He was rich. Now, when I've taught on that before, I know you realize that there are tax gatherers like Matthew that are chief tax gatherers. Like Zacchaeus, they had several tax collectors who work for them, and they got a slice of all the excess that those tax collectors collected. You see, the way Rome would do taxes is this. They would find tax collectors and they'd say, this is how much money Rome wants. Let's just say Rome wants 10 percent. OK, so if you can collect 20 percent, Rome will get 10 and you can keep 10. If you collect 30 percent, Rome will take 10.
You can keep 20. Notice it's easy to find people motivated to be tax gatherers if they're greedy. Zacchaeus was really good at it. And so he was rich. Zacchaeus was trying to see who Jesus was, and he was unable because of the crowd. And he was small in stature. And so he ran on ahead and he climbed up a sycamore tree in order to see him. And he was about to pass through that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and he said to him, Zacchaeus, hurry, come down for the day.
I must stay at your house. Now, let me read something between the lines here. Zacchaeus had already put his faith in Christ. That's why he wanted to see him. And Jesus knew it because he kind of knew everything, but he knew it. And so he looks up there and says, I want to stay at your house.
Notice the response. And he hurried and he came down and he received him gladly. That probably meant embrace them. And it says, and when they saw it, they all began to grumble and said, he is he's gone to be the guest of a man who's a sinner. By the way, that's what Jesus does.
He becomes a guest to people who are sinners like you and me. Zacchaeus stopped and he said this to the Lord. He said, behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much. That's called restitution. You see, not just that, hey, my sins are forgiven.
This is great. I'll make restitution. He says, and Jesus said him today, salvation has come to this house because he, too, is a son of Abraham.
For the son of man has come to seek and to save that which is lost. That's restitution. That's a biblical principle in Numbers Chapter five. Moses writes that we are to make reg retribution, he says, and restitution for any wrong in full. Leviticus six.
The general idea of Leviticus six is you've got to make restitution. You've got to put your money back in the trust bank. You have to make deposits.
I said that last time. Whenever you betray someone or betray a trust, you remove it all at once. And so the vault is empty. Now, once you've repented, it's your job to make deposits of trust back into the vault. And eventually trust will be there. That's why when a relationship is restored, there is restoration. It is not immediate that you trust at the same level you did before. It takes time. But it will come in time. There has to be restitution.
So you have reality check. You have reversible behavior, renouncing of the sin, requesting forgiveness and restitution. And the last one is what I'll call rehabilitation.
And the reason I call it that is it starts with R. So. Rehabilitation, the rebuilding of your character. That means now that I have repented, received forgiveness both from God and from others, I need to spend time in prayer. I need to spend time in the word of God. I need to spend time in a discipling atmosphere or mentoring. I need to spend time.
I need to continue to grow. You see, it is a process. Cern Kierkegaard, the great intellectual, said this sudden quick repentance wants only to down the bitterness of sorrow in a single gulp and then hurry on. It wants to get away from guilt, away from every reminder of it.
What a delusion. Repentance is a process. So what is repentance?
Change start. Is it a single action or a process? It's a process.
It begins with a single action. And if you truly repent. Does that eliminate the consequences? Rarely. Rarely.
Sometimes maybe, but rarely. Turn with me to Numbers Chapter 14. Numbers Chapter 14. Beginning in verse three, we see what their sin is. Numbers 14 and verse three. Here's the people of Israel after being delivered out of 400 years of slavery.
Here's the prevailing attitude of the people. Why is the Lord bringing us into this land to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder. Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt and be slaves again? And so they said to one another, let's appoint a leader and return to Egypt.
Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces in the presence of all the assembly in the congregation of the sons of Israel. Verse 17. But now I pray, let the power of the Lord be great. Just as you have declared the Lord slow to anger and abundant loving kindness, forgiving, iniquity and transgression.
But he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers of the children, the third and fourth generation. Pardon, I pray the iniquities of this people, according to the greatness of your loving kindness. Just as you, he says, have forgiven this people from Egypt even until now, they're begging forgive. Now watch, the Lord said, I have pardoned them according to your word.
There's the forgiveness. But indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord. Surely all the men who have seen my glory and my signs, which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness.
Yet he said, put me to the test. These 10 times have not listened to my voice. They shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned me see it. Forty years they spent should have taken six weeks to go from Egypt to the Promised Land.
Took 40 years. Why? Consequences. Think of David. We saw his confessional. He's confessing because he committed adultery with Bathsheba. And he ordered the murder of her husband, Uriah the Hittite. And so David confesses and he does repent, but it takes some time. But Bathsheba became pregnant because of the infidelity. And God told David the baby will die. David prayed his heart out that it wouldn't be the baby. David would have prayed, give me the punishment.
Baby died. Sometimes and most of the time, there are consequences. You can't escape the consequences of sin. And I think often one of the reasons we confess is we think if I can confess it, I can escape the consequences.
One thing for sure. If you confess it early, you can certainly stop the compounding of the consequences because you fall deeper and deeper into sin. And so true repentance usually does not eliminate the consequences. So what is repentance? Repentance is a change start.
You see, that's all that he's saying. Is it an act, just a point action, or is it a process? It's a process. Well, when I repent, does it eliminate the consequences?
Rarely. But repentance is one of the most important things we can do. You see, repentance is absolutely important when you come to Christ. Repentance is absolutely necessary once we're Christians. Because without repentance, we stay languishing in our own sin. And then there's no joy, no peace, no hope, no meaning, no purpose. Just the scars and consequences of sin in our life.
But boy, when there is repentance, there's hope. That's what I love so much about the Lord. Steadfast love of the Lord never changes. His mercy's never come to an end. They're new every morning. New every morning. Great is thy faithfulness.
Boy, do I love that. No matter how bad I messed up my life. You see, no matter how many people I hurt or how deeply I hurt them. No matter what I've done against God, if I'm honest with God and I truly repent, there's restoration.
You see, there's restoration. The grace of God shines in a repentant heart. Let's pray. Father, this morning my prayer is this. If there's somebody here today, a believer in Jesus Christ, who knows that they are in a state of sin, who has tried every way they can to rationalize it and excuse it, that they would come clean with you, that they would repent of their sin.
And by repenting of their sin, they would experience the renewal of the forgiveness and the power of the Spirit of God in their lives. Father, repentance is on us. It's an act of our mind. It's an act of our emotions. It's an act of our will. And Father, I pray that none of us underestimate the power of sin in our lives and how devastating it can be to our relationship with you, to our relationship with others, and even the qualities of peace and joy within ourselves. Father, when we are the ones who violate, when we are the ones who sin, when we are the ones who need forgiveness, may we truly be repentant.
In Christ's name, amen. That's oneplace.com, and you can listen to Fellowship in the Word online. At that website, you will find not only today's broadcast, but also many of our previous audio programs as well. At Fellowship in the Word, we are thankful for those who financially support our ministry and make this broadcast possible. We ask all of our listeners to prayerfully consider how you might help this radio ministry continue its broadcast on this radio station by supporting us monthly or with just a one-time gift. Support for our ministry can be sent to Fellowship in the Word 4600 Clearview Parkway, Metairie, Louisiana 7006. If you would be interested in hearing today's message in its original format, that is as a sermon that Pastor Bill delivered during a Sunday morning service at Fellowship Bible Church, then you should visit our website, fbcnola.org. That's F-B-C-N-O-L-A dot O-R-G. At our website, you will find hundreds of Pastor Bill's sermons. You can browse through our sermon archives to find the sermon series you are looking for, or you can search by title. Once you find the message you are looking for, you can listen online, or if you prefer, you can download the sermon and listen at your own convenience. And remember, you can do all of this absolutely free of charge. Once again, our website is fbcnola.org. For Pastor Bill Gebhardt, I'm Jason Gebhardt, thanking you for listening to Fellowship in the Word.
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