“Is It Repentance or Only Regret?” January 3

 

Is It Repentance or Only Regret? - Life can get messy. Much of that messiness is the result of our own choices. Those messes, the consequences, are often what God uses to get our attention. As a result, we experience sorrow and regret. But not all our responses are what God requires. What does God expect in the midst of our messes? God calls us to repentance, but what exactly is repentance? Is it a feeling of sorrow or something more? #regret #repentance #sorrow #totaldepravityLife can get messy. Much of that messiness is the result of our own choices. Those messes, the consequences, are often what God uses to get our attention. As a result, we experience sorrow and regret. But not all our responses are what God requires.

What does God expect in the midst of our messes? God calls us to repentance, but what exactly is repentance? Is it a feeling of sorrow or something more? 

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 5 & 6
Psalm 2.7-12
Proverbs 1.10-19
Matthew 3.1-17

 

Is It Repentance or Only Regret?

 

Matthew 3.1-17:

Genuine Repentance

 

Thirty years have passed since the night Jesus was born in a humble stable. He has grown up, probably working in His stepfather’s carpentry business. Now He’s about to burst unto the scene in a more public way.

He cousin John is already preaching and preparing the hearts of the people for Jesus’ message. Chapter 3:

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make His paths straight.’”

Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.

But when some of the religious leaders came to be baptized, he questioned the genuineness of their repentance. He called them a “brood of vipers,” and told them, “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance” (v. 8).

When we sin we are to repent and go to God and anyone else we have sinned against and seek forgiveness. When we do 1 John 1.9 says:

“He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

But what is repentance?

Genuine biblical repentance includes sorrow over our sin and a willingness to admit and take responsibility for our actions. While we don’t earn forgiveness by good behavior or somehow atoning for our sins, genuine repentance will produce a change in our behavior. At times, that should include making restitution for wrongs done.

 

Sorry Because of Consequences

 

Too often we are only sorry about the consequences of our sin (broken relationships, punishment, or losses of different kinds). This is worldly sorrow and not godly sorrow.

Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death (2 Cor. 7.9-10).

Godly sorrow is a brokenness over our sin. Like David in Psalm 51, it’s a realization that we have sinned, first against God.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.

For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight (Ps. 51.2-4a).

Sin is a failure to trust and obey God and a sign of rebellion against Him. We’re going our own way, trusting in ourselves, determined to have life on our own terms. Repentance is a change of heart that leads to a change in our thinking and behavior. We turn 180° from going our way to going His way. So while change does not earn us forgiveness, it is the fruit of genuine repentance.

 

Is It Repentance or Only Regret? - Life can get messy. Much of that messiness is the result of our own choices. Those messes, the consequences, are often what God uses to get our attention. As a result, we experience sorrow and regret. But not all our responses are what God requires. What does God expect in the midst of our messes? God calls us to repentance, but what exactly is repentance? Is it a feeling of sorrow or something more? #regret #repentance #sorrow #totaldepravity

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Genesis 5 & 6:

Total Depravity

 

It didn’t take long for sin to take its toll, did it? Chapter 6.5-6 says:

“Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.”

This is sometimes called “total depravity.” Even though sin doesn’t make us all as bad as we could be, it makes us all as bad as we need to be to deserve an eternity separated from Him.

God is still grieved over sin today. All too often we mistakenly believe that when we sin, we are only hurting ourselves, or, at worst, another person. But as I said earlier, sin is always against our Heavenly Father!

Backing up to chapter 5 we see the genealogy of Adam. Satan had told Eve in the garden, “You will not surely die.” (Gen. 3.4) Yet as each generation is recounted, it is followed by the words, “… and he died.” One more proof that Satan is a liar.

Death means “separation from something.” Spiritual death (separation from God) took place instantly. And though physical death (separation of the spirit from the body) took longer, the process of physical death began as a result of sin’s entrance into the world.

 

Psalm 2.7-12:

Trusting Him

 

Verse 12, “… Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.”

This theme permeates all of Scripture.

 

Proverbs 1.10-19:

Sowing & Reaping

10 My son, if sinners entice you,
Do not consent.
11 If they say, “Come with us,
Let us lie in wait to shed blood;
Let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause;
12 Let us swallow them alive like Sheol,
And whole, like those who go down to the Pit;
13 We shall find all kinds of precious possessions,
We shall fill our houses with spoil;
14 Cast in your lot among us,
Let us all have one purse”—
15 My son, do not walk in the way with them,
Keep your foot from their path;
16 For their feet run to evil,
And they make haste to shed blood.
17 Surely, in vain the net is spread
In the sight of any bird;
18 But they lie in wait for their own blood,
They lurk secretly for their own lives.
19 So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain;
It takes away the life of its owners.

Here is the law of sowing and reaping in action. Those who sow violence and wickedness will ultimately reap the same.

 

Closing Thoughts:

Thoughtful man hurt depression guilt sadnessIs there an area in your life where God has shown you that you need to change? Go to God and seek His forgiveness and help. Then humble yourself and seek forgiveness from any others you have sinned against. Then the real work begins.

It’s not enough to express sorrow and see the need to change. If that’s all we do, we run the risk of becoming the forgetful hearers James talked about:

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does (Jas. 1:22-25).

We can look into the mirror of Scripture and then go away and forget what manner of man or woman we are. We must keep looking daily into His law. We must renew our minds on an ongoing basis. Then we must become doers of His Word. The scary part is that if we do not, James says we are deceived or deluded. We actually think we are alright and can even become very self-righteous about it! That’s what happened to the religious leaders in Jesus’ day.

Becoming a doer of the Word involves two things. In counseling, we call it “the put-off put-on process” (Eph. 4.22-24). We must put-off the habits of the old man—our sinful nature. Then we must put-on new godly habits. Without both, we will not truly change.

While we are to do our part to obey God, both by putting off the habits of the old man and by putting on the habits of the new man, we aren’t to do so out of a legalistic attempt to earn God’s favor or get our tickets punched for heaven.

Instead, we must first come to Him as sinners in need of a Savior and accept His forgiveness. When we do, He gives us a new heart and begins to change us from the inside out. Our obedience should be a response to His love and grace. It’s the fruit of a changed life. And even then, can only be done in dependence on Him.

 

Praying through the Bible:

Based on:

Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance (Matt. 3.8).

Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death (2 Cor. 7.9-10).

Father, I pray that you would search my heart and show me any area where I have sinned against you. If so, please help me to recognize worldly sorrow and, instead, grant me godly sorrow that leads to genuine repentance. Give me the humility to confess and seek forgiveness from those I’ve sinned against. And give me the wisdom and understanding to walk in obedience so I can produce the fruit that comes from repentance. In Jesus name. Amen.

 

Coming Up:

As we continue through Genesis, one of my favorite books of the Bible, we’ll meet real people with real stories like yours and mine. In the coming weeks, we will read Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob, Esau, and Joseph, just to name a few. We’ll witness more sibling rivalry, favoritism, idolatry, deception, manipulation, and revenge. But through it all, we’ll see God’s sovereignty and grace and find hope for the messes we make of our lives.

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope (Rom. 15.4).

In the New Testament, we’ll talk about fighting temptation with the sword of the Spirit, radical surgery and look at Jesus’ outline for prayer.

Be sure to sign up here so you won’t miss any of these upcoming daily posts. If you sign up now you will have a chance to win one of the best books on prayer that I’ve read in a long time: Praying the Bible by Donald Whitney (sign up by January 31). You can read more about it below.

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Blessings,
Donna

 

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Today’s Featured Resources:

 

Praying the Bible by Donald Whitney

“This little book is explosive and powerful.”
R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

When you pray, does it ever feel like you’re just saying the same old things about the same old things?

Offering us the encouragement and the practical advice we’re all looking for, Donald S. Whitney, best-selling author of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, outlines an easy-to-grasp method that has the power to transform our prayer life: praying the words of Scripture. Simple, yet profound, Praying the Bible will prove invaluable as you seek to commune with your heavenly Father in prayer each and every day.

 

The MacArthur Daily Bible

The MacArthur Daily Bible takes a portion of the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs for each day of the year, with daily comments that guide and inform you as you read through the Bible in a year. John MacArthur’s insight maximizes the benefit of each day’s reading. If a commitment to daily Bible reading never worked for you before, this is the answer. With John at your side, there’ll be no such thing as a tough portion of Scripture.

2 thoughts on ““Is It Repentance or Only Regret?” January 3

  1. Love your insight on the difference between repentance and simply regret for the consequences of our words, actions, or lack of actions. Thanks for shining a light into this darkness!

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