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God’s Call to Genuine Repentance - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
February 13, 2024 12:00 am

God’s Call to Genuine Repentance - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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February 13, 2024 12:00 am

Discover the definition of true repentance and how it affects the believer's life.

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Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Tuesday, February thirteenth. How would you define repentance? Today's podcast helps you see that living righteously depends on a right understanding of this key part of the Christian life. Well, your friend says that he's a Christian. And you say, Well, tell me about it. He said, Well, I had this feeling and I made a profession of my Christian life and I joined the church. And so, I'm a Christian. So, you watch this person, not to be critical, but what you observe is there is absolutely no change in their life whatsoever.

Still tells those shady jokes, still their conduct is just nothing about its change. So you say, Well, what's the problem? Then of course, here's the believer that they know they've been saved, no doubt in their mind about it, but they're struggling with sin. And if you ask them, they say, Well, I confess it and I ask God to forgive me and I'm just absolutely deadly sincere, and yet here I go doing the same old thing again. And you may be one of those persons who says, Yes, yes, yes, you know this thing of confessing and being very sincere and the same old problem, that's my problem.

What is the answer? So, I want you to turn, if you will, to the twenty-fourth chapter of Luke. And what I want us to talk about is this, and that is God's call to genuine repentance. God's call to genuine repentance.

And somebody says, Well now, what in the world does that mean? That's what I want to talk about in this passage because it is extremely important. And I want to take the time to give you enough verses to understand God's message about repentance is absolutely essential and it's found throughout the Scripture. In this twenty-fourth chapter of Luke, Jesus is saying to His disciples some of the most important things He said in those days were said, for example, in those latter days, right before He was crucified in the thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen chapters of John in the upper room after He was resurrected, the things that He said. And so, listen to what He's saying here beginning in verse forty-five of this twenty-fourth chapter of Luke. He says, Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And He said to them, Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things, and behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you, but you to stay in this city until you are clothed with power from on high. Now here's what I want you to notice, He said, Repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations beginning from Jerusalem. Now I want us to think for just a moment about how important repentance is before I explain exactly what that word means.

And somebody says, Well, what does it mean and how important is it in my life? Well, one of the ways that we know something is important is because of what Jesus said. And if Jesus said it and all the apostles said it and they said it over and over and over again, it must be that God intends for us to get the message. So if you think about it for a moment, when Jesus began His ministry, right before He shows up on the scene, here's John the Baptist in this third chapter of Matthew.

And listen to what the Scripture says about what happens when He comes upon the scene. The Bible says in the third chapter and the first verse, Now in those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. And then of course, when Jesus began His ministry in the fourth chapter of Matthew in the seventeenth verse, He says, From that time Jesus began to preach and say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. So He began His ministry doing what? Preaching and speaking on the whole subject of repentance.

So the question is, What does it mean? And then I want to distinguish between what genuine repentance is about and then what repentance that's not so genuine. So if you look in the New Testament and look at the two Greek words that refer to repentance, there are two ideas in the Scripture that refer, that are included here. One of them is heartfelt sorrow. That is, genuine sorrow is a part of what repentance is all about.

The second part of that is change. So when you have genuine repentance, you have a heartfelt sorrow, listen, for sin against God and you have a change that's about to take place. So what is genuine repentance? It's a heartfelt sorrow for sin. At the same time, it's a commitment to forsake it and to walk in obedience to Christ. It isn't just enough to have a sorrow for sin, regret and remorse for what you've done because you feel guilty and so forth, but there's a commitment to walk away from it, to forsake it.

Here's what I want you to see. You can be teary-eyed. You can cry. You can be ashamed.

You can be embarrassed. You can fear being caught, whatever it is, none of that is repentance. Because it is a heartfelt sorrow toward God for your sin and a commitment to do what?

To forsake it, to walk away from it. So one of the deceptions is this, because you get upset and because you're ashamed of what you've done and you come to God and say, Lord, I shouldn't have done this and I'm really sorry and I feel terrible about it, please forgive me. Is that repentance?

No. You may be sorry, but what are you sorrowful about? Are you sorrowful that you sinned against holy God? And we live in a time when God's not even reverenced. He's not even respected, let alone recognizing that He's holy. God is a holy God, and holy God cannot tolerate sin.

Holy God does not overlook sin. And somebody says, well, my God is such and such. If your God isn't the God of this book, then you are believing in idolatry. You listen, you are believing in a God that does not exist except man-made.

Men can fall down and worship anything, all kind of things. I mean, they can be handmade things, they can be people, whatever it might be, but there's only one God. His name is Jehovah and His Son is Jesus Christ. He is the one true God. Therefore, whatever God calls sinful is sinful. Why does He not want sin in our life? Because He loves us.

Because He loves every single one of us unconditionally. But His unconditional love does not mean He overlooks my deliberate, willful sin against Him. And so there are people who get all upset about their sin and they come to God and they weep and cry and carry on and so forth. But that doesn't mean it's repentance. Repentance, listen, is not only a godly sorrow, genuine repentance means to change. For example, the Hebrew word in the Bible, for repent means to change. That's what the word means.

And so, for example, let's take a passage that you know real well. Second Chronicles seven fourteen about the nation of Israel. He says, If My people who are called by My name shall humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked ways, then will I heal their land. It isn't just humble themselves and pray, but humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked ways. We live in a society, we live in a church age wherein we tolerate.

And listen, the message that goes out oftentimes is a message of tolerance. You can't tolerate sin. God hates sin. He hates all sin, every type of sin, for the simple reason He loves us. He loves us too much to let us get by with it. He loves us so much that, listen, that He judges sin because He knows what sin does in the life of His children. He sees what it's doing in the life of the unbeliever. He sees what it does in the life of the believer.

Therefore, He hates it. And so, God does not want sin in your life and in my life. And therefore, He says there needs to be a change in our life. And if you'll think about it, in the Old Testament there are many, many Scriptures that we could turn to. But listen to what He says. He says, Seek the Lord while He may be found.

Call upon Him while He's near. Let the wicked forsake His way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return to the Lord. There is no such thing as repenting of sin without a heartfelt sorrow toward God for the fact that we've sinned against Him and broken His law. And secondly, there's no genuine repentance unless there is a turning around and heading in the opposite direction. Somebody says, Okay, all right, I understand that.

There's got to be a change. But now, what about all of these verses that the Bible gives us where the word repentance is not mentioned? For example, there is John three sixteen, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life. So somebody says, I've always believed in Jesus.

How many times have I heard that? I've always believed in Jesus. That is not the belief the Bible is talking about.

For example, the Bible says, For by grace you say through faith that not of yourselves is the gift of God, not of works, lest any one should boast. It doesn't say anything about repentance, but what's included? Does He not say in Romans chapter ten, He says, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Well, I've called upon Him, but there's still no change. And we could go through all these verses that have to do with believing.

Now here's the problem here. The very word to believe in Jesus when it comes to salvation involves and includes repentance. It's two sides of the same coin. Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin. The reason, for example, that the word repentance isn't always mentioned every single time is because they understood that. They understood that to place your faith in Jesus Christ, there must, listen, there will be a change in your life when that happens.

Because before, you've been living at your own way, doing your own thing. And listen, the sin that separates men from God is the sin of unbelief. We say, Oh, I believe, I believe in Jesus. Listen, the New Testament word believe, and this used to bother me because in my first church I'd listen to all these people who said they believe in Jesus and living like the devil and never going to church and paying God no mind.

And I knew a bunch of them and it really bothered me. I just, but on a seminary I thought, God, I've got to understand something. So I took my Greek New Testament, went through the whole New Testament and recorded every single time the word believe is mentioned.

And here's what I discovered. The very word, the Greek word I believe, pistuo, has a certain ending and that ending is a word of action. Every single time anybody is believing something in the New Testament, there is an action that goes on.

Something happens. You say, I believe in Jesus Christ. If you believe in Jesus Christ on the basis of New Testament belief, something, listen, not only is this just some, what you're really saying is I have this intellectual assent to the fact that yes, that's who He is. But to place my faith in Him, I cannot separate a repentant spirit and faith because the two go hand in hand. You don't repent and then believe and you don't believe and then repent.

It's both. If I'm turning to the Lord Jesus Christ, I'm turning from something. I'm turning from my life of sin to Him. And therefore, there's going to be a change in my behavior, there's going to be a change in my conduct, my conversation, my character.

Why? Because when that takes place, here's what Paul said. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, that if you've trusted Him as your Savior, old things have passed away, behold all things have become new. Now what in the world did Jesus mean when He said, except a man be born again, if he's not born again, he can't see the kingdom of God. Why would Jesus use such a strong term? In fact, it was so awesome that Nicodemus himself said, well, what do you mean by that? How can a man be born, go back into his mother's womb a second time?

Of course, he didn't understand what Jesus was saying. To be born again means what? When a woman gives birth to a baby, it is a new what? It's a new life.

Something happened. It's a whole change. That baby was at first what curled up in the mother's womb, and now this baby is born. It's a brand new life. When a person becomes a Christian, genuine, listen, when you place your faith in Jesus Christ and the spirit of genuine repentance, trusting Him as your Savior, that means you've turned from your old life to a new life, you've got a new beginning.

That's what the Christian life's all about. It's a new start. It's a new beginning. It's a new life. If any man's in Christ, he's a new creation.

And so when you look at the Scriptures everywhere you turn, it's something new that happens. Therefore, when a person receives Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, they, listen, repentance is a part of that. Repentance means what? I have a sorrow and regret for the life that I've lived, and I'm committed to a different kind of life. Now watch this, which does not mean now I'm going to clean up my life.

You can't clean up your life. Listen, salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit. When you say, I receive Jesus Christ as my personal Savior, and you really and truly mean that, the Spirit of God at that moment does what?

Deposits within you. Listen, and in essence, the Holy Spirit comes within you. Listen, your Spirit is renewed.

You have a new Spirit. The Holy Spirit is living within you to enable you now to live out this life that you have received because salvation is a life we receive. It isn't some gift that God gives apart from Himself. It is the life that He comes to live within us. Therefore, it's inconsistent.

Think about this. It's inconsistent for me to claim that I'm a Christian and live the same old life that I used to live. How could I do that when the Spirit of God is living within me? Repentance means what?

A godless sorrow has taken place in my life. And like the prodigal son slopping hogs, he said, I will. He made a decision. And what did he do? By faith, he turned to go back to his father. And what did he say? He said, I'm going to tell him I know I'm not fit to be here. But he went in faith that his father would accept him. He didn't say, oh my goodness, here's what I got to do.

I got to get myself a bath and clean myself up and change clothes, get my hair straightened out and really look good because I'm going to see my father. You know what he did? He got up with slop all over him or whatever they were feeding him in those days. He headed up the road. He must have looked like a hag when his father saw him. But the Bible says the only time in the Bible to where God is pictured running.

And in those days, dignified people didn't run. His father went running toward him and put his arms around him and hugged him and here he is trying to confess and repent and whatever it might be. He'd already settled that in the hog bin. I'm going back to my father where I belong, no matter what happens. And the father forgave him. It couldn't be a more perfect example of genuine repentance and genuine salvation than is found in that chapter. So, for the person who is not a Christian, if you're going to be saved, here's what you've got to do.

Listen carefully. You must be willing to acknowledge your sinfulness before God. There must be, listen, a genuine heartfelt sorrow over the fact that you have sinned against your Heavenly Father. This idea of flippantly saying, Well, I'm going to, you know, yeah, I'm going to trust Jesus.

You don't know Him. You know, I was saved when I was only twelve. But I can remember being under deep conviction and getting on my knees at the altar and weeping because I had sinned against God.

Well, at twelve, I didn't even know what a lot of sins were. And I think about people today who just live all kind of wickedness in their life and they say, Well, what I'm going to do is I'm going to join the church. I'm going to tell you, you can go to church. You can join every church, every denomination, die and go to hell for the simple reason that isn't church joining. Well, I've been baptized, sprinkled, and poured on that.

I'm going to do you a bit of good. Well, I go to, I teach Sunday school, I sing in the choir, in fact, I've even preached a few times, that will not do you any good. You say, Well now wait a minute, you mean to tell me that if I'm willing to get up and preach and teach and help people to understand the truth that I won't go to heaven? Absolutely not, because listen to what Jesus said, Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say unto Me that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many wonderful works? And what is the response of Jesus at the judgment?

And then I will declare to them, I never knew you, depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness. That is, a man can preach the gospel all of his life. And if he's never been saved by the grace of God, you know what? When he dies, he's not going to heaven. Listen, salvation has nothing to do with good works. You can't clean up your life. Repentance, watch this, repentance is not cleaning up my past. Repentance is acknowledging my past as wicked and as sinful against God, acknowledging my helplessness and turning to Him, asking for His mercy, placing my trust in Him because He said if I would come to Him, He would forgive me and cleanse me and change my life.

It's what He does in us. So somebody says, Well now, but don't you have to clean up something to get saved? No, you can't clean it up.

If you could clean it up, there'd be no cross. Listen, we're desperately lost from God apart from the grace and mercy and the work of the Holy Spirit to bring us to the realization we need to be saved. Listen, by faith in Jesus Christ with a repentant spirit, when you come to Him with that Spirit, your sins will be forgiven, your name written in the Lamb's Book of Life.

And what happened? You just had an eternal change in your life. Because salvation is an eternal change, an eternal change of your destiny. Therefore our walk following that eternal destiny change is to be like a godly man or woman. Thank you for listening to God's Call to Genuine Repentance. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by InTouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-13 02:57:41 / 2024-02-13 03:06:09 / 8

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