Before we get into a discussion of the subject of repentance I would like to make some comments regarding the misconceptions that many have. Any who have read thus far in the book will realize that the foundation of Moral law is the highest good of God and of the universe and it also includes the fact of knowing God. No one would even consider a motive of the best end for God and the universe unless they had come to see the intrinsic value of knowing God. He is far above all comprehension and his compassions fail not. We are about do embark upon a discussion of what repentance is and of what it is not. We cannot, however, lose site of that which motivates us to repentance, namely the goodness of God.
“Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?“ (Romans 2:4)
Truly we could never go out and attempt to repent with no motivation. However, when we have truly seen Him, the Lover of our souls and responded to His love, the intrinsic value of knowing God makes all other loves and motives small by comparison. It is “after” we have come to know God and tasted to see that the Lord is good that we will now see the whole world through different eyes. The change that is discussed here regarding repentance cannot be removed from this basic premise. Knowing Him is surely the treasure that a man found in a field and because it had such great value, he sold all that he had to buy the field just so he could own that treasure. Jesus is that treasure. Unless a person truly sees the value of a relationship with God and how precious that relationship is transcending all other values, they will never even desire to repent. Repentance makes no logical sense without such a powerful motive. The motive to turn from the world and all that is of self is not something that man can do on his own without a powerful revelation of God that will cause him to desire nothing more than this relationship so that anything else that was once dear now seems to have little or no meaning when compared to the glorious joy and comfort that can only come from a true relationship with God through Jesus Christ. In our discussion of repentance, we will discuss the following:
- What is not considered to be repentance.
- Defining true repentance.
- The implications of repentance.
- What is not considered to be impenitence.
- Defining impenitence.
- The implications of impenitence.
- Characteristics and evidences of impenitence.
What is not considered repentance.
Since the Bible talks about repentance in the context of being a virtue where there is a definite change of moral character, it could not be claimed that repentance is merely an intellectual process. Repentance is not really even conviction of sin or the admitting that one is guilty and deserving of punishment. Any intellectual acknowledgment by way of passive states of the mind and are not really considered to be part of moral character.
It must also be said that repentance is not really an emotion or state of sensibility. When a person feels regret or remorse, sorrow for sin or sorrow at the consequences of sin, no matter what emotions are involved, it is still a passive state of the mind and as such has no real moral character.
Finally, anyone that views the definition of repentance cannot and will not assume that an involuntary state of mind constitutes repentance since moral character can only be ascribed to active motives and choices and not to passive states.
Two Greek words are used that are both translated into the word repentance. One is metamelomai and the other one is metanoeo. The first has to do with being concerned for self and as a result to change one’s course. This word mostly expresses emotion, regret, remorse, or sorrow for sinfulness. Sometimes there is a change of purpose but when one reads about Judas they can see just how weak the word really is.
“Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.” (Matthew 27:3-5)
We can see here that Judas was not turning to God although he was certainly sorrowful and under deep conviction that he had done the wrong thing. He had an intellectual repentance with enough emotion to commit suicide. There was no movement from self to God in the whole matter as in our illustration earlier in the discussion of regeneration. Judas certainly had remorse and despair but he did not have a turning to God because of the intrinsic value of knowing God and of the best end of God and of the universe. He chose the worst end both for Jesus and ultimately for himself when he committed suicide.
Spiros Zodhiates, in his Word Study Dictionary says that metamelomai is contrasted with metanoeo because it expresses the mere desire that what is done may be undone, accompanies with regrets and even remorse, but with no effective change of heart. Metamelomai on the part of man means little or nothing more than a selfish dread of the consequence of what one has done whereas metanoeo means regret and forsaking the evil by a change of heart brought about by God’s Spirit.
Metanoeo is from a root word meta which means a change of place or condition. As we have already presented, true repentance is moving from the life of self-gratification to a life of disinterested benevolence as one changes their heart toward God. True repentance implies a pious sorrow for unbelief and sin with a turning from sin and selfishness to God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Spiros Zodiates has this to say regarding the faith that is part of repentance: “Faith is the condition of entrance into the experience of salvation, the enjoyment of eternal life; but repentance is the psychological and moral condition of faith. As eternal life is unattainable without faith, faith is unattainable without repentance. If repentance means to change from the self-centered life to the God-centered life, then Jesus is the Author and Inspiration of repentance. No other was ever able to reach down deep enough into human nature to affect this change.”
There is a subtle meaning which Charles Finney refers to, “to take an after view,” and some say “to perceive afterwards.” There is no doubt about the fact that one will take a completely different view when they have made the ultimate goal change from one of self-gratification to that of disinterested benevolence, to actually turning toward God. We see this in the following verse:
“Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:21)
In this verse as in our earlier illustration regarding the Greek word eis which means into we see the same word used as where the Bible says to “Believe eis (into) in.” There is movement away from sin and toward God. When a person is actually placed “in Christ” as we have discussed, there is a looking back at the former life from a completely different point of view. That is what we mean when we talk about repentance. The ultimate result of this repentance is a change in the ultimate choice from one of self-gratification to one of disinterested benevolence. This disinterested benevolence is only experienced by knowing God and being indwelled by the Holy Spirit.. Thus we can see as Charles Finney so powerfully said in his ministry and in this book that there is a turning of the will from the ultimate intention of selfishness to one of disinterested benevolence. Only coming to know God could result in such a change. This also proves another fact, namely, false religions that have no such results prove that they are false since the “god” that they serve does not cause this same change of ultimate intention. Only the one true God will effect such a change. All false religions will only create more devious ways of performing selfishness under the guise of their religion and of their false “god.” This is why one sees false religions such as Islam seething with hatred and vowing to exterminate any race of people that is contrary to their sectarian selfishness expressed through a false religion. Even so-called Christianity that has a strange silence on the subject of repentance while expressing extreme militant ideas is showing in a graphic way that they are truly no better than every other false religion in the world. As we have said, repentance is not an intellectual understanding of truth, but an ultimate choice that has changed from one of self-gratification to true disinterested benevolence. It is what holiness is all about. Truly the statement from the Bible is true, “…..holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.”
“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:” (Hebrews 12:14)
The implications of repentance.
There is such a strong correlation between the will and the intellect that any consideration of repentance implies a strong afterthought. There is self-reflection, where a clear apprehension of one’s guilt produces self-condemnation before God. One now looks back at selfishness as awful sin. They now see that it is right and one’s duty to consecrate the whole being to God and His service, a first truth of reason. After seeing self-gratification as it really is, the shame and self-condemnation of the repentant soul also results in a hearty justification of God, his law, and of his moral and providential government of love, including all His works and ways. A repentant person knows the nature of sin, that it comes from the heart and often leads to outward conduct, though not always. Repentance knows that the sinner justly deserves the wrath of God and His everlasting curse.
Repentance would not think the commands of God to be unreasonable and that sinfulness is folly and madness. It implies a hearty surrender of all controversy between God and man upon every point, even taking God’s position against selfishness in a clear and convincing way, that God is totally right and that the sinner is completely wrong. Because of this view, the sinner comes to a place where he sees nothing blameworthy in God and makes himself the one who is guilty of all sin. When this happens, the sinner abandons himself in the dust and he cries out against himself and he heartily exalts God in the most hearty and sincere manner possible.
While just conviction of sin and sorrow for sin do not constitute repentance, yet there is a distinct correlation between sorrow and the change in the will during repentance. It may be that before one comes to the point of repentance they are somewhat hardened to sin and their position before God but at the same time the will is slain before God and yields to Him there is often a great gushing of emotion that accompanies the turning of the will to God. During this time the fountains of the heart are often broken up and the tides of emotion at viewing the awfulness of sin against a holy and loving God make the sinner burst out with a full demonstration of these emotions at the time of coming to know the true God in a personal way. As the soul is experiencing self-loathing there is the consequential result of loathing the sins of others, a deep and thorough opposition to sin—all sin, both in self and in others. Sin becomes to the penitent soul the very thing which the soul hates, the object of great opposition in heart and life.
Now we see repentance as implying a holy indignation toward all sin and all sinners, it becomes a manifest opposition to all forms of iniquity. What is the result? As the soul gains full confidence in the infinite wisdom and love of God, the atonement of Jesus Christ and the universal providential results of his death and resurrection, they cannot help butbegin to have a peace that grows with every passing day. Repentance is truly a phenomena of the heart that begins on the day of regeneration and continues during the rest of one’s life. It is the way that a saint keeps the life clean and stays at peace with God.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
I don’t think that we really comprehend just what our position is before God until we truly begin to confess our sins to him. In order to help the reader to make a full confession to God, I have compiled a list that was prepared through years of reading the works of Charles G. Finney and through my own personal prayers that you can use to help you in confessing sins before a holy God. Take this list and copy it completely. As you go through the various questions, write down every sin that you can think of for every one. Write them out completely and then after you have made a complete list, confess them to God. If there are any areas where you have wronged anyone or stolen something from them that needs to be returned, go to that person and return the thing or tell them that you have sinned that that you are trying to make it all right before God and them. You will be amazed at the results. Here is the list for you to follow:
Repentance Confession List
In any Revival there is repentance which consists of confession of sins and commitment to Christ. In the case of the lost sinner, there is a trust in Christ for Salvation. In the case of the Christian, there is confession of sins that have hindered the power of God in their lives. Repentance is not a one-time thing. Repentance starts the day one is saved but it continues every day thereafter until we are at home with Jesus in Heaven. Use this Repentance Confession List with the greatest of care. Get out a piece of paper and write down every sin that you can remember for each question on the list. Then confess it to God and after doing so, destroy the list because your sins are placed under the blood.
1 John 1:7-9 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (8) If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
James 5:14-16 “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: (15) And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. (16) Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
Many people think that when they get saved that they don’t have to confess sins or make restitution but that is not what repentance is all about. Repentance is “to perceive afterward.” That means if you never went through a list like this when you were saved, you need to do it after you get saved. Make a thorough cleansing of your life. Get out the dirt. Restore relationships of the past that are broken because of sin and break relationships up that are the results of sin. Then destroy the list because they have been placed under the blood.
Areas to confess:
I. Sins of the tongue.
A. Have I been gossiping about people?
1. Do I slander the character of others?
2. Am I a tale bearer and a busybody
B. Do I criticize unlovingly, harshly, and severely?
1. Am I always finding fault and looking for the flaws in others?
2. Do I get under their skin by constantly picking at them?
C. Am I true in my statements?
1. Or do I exaggerate and thus convey false impressions
2. Have I lied?
II. Sins of thought.
A. Am I guilty of immorality?
1. Do I allow my mind to harbor impure and unholy imaginations?
2. Do I look at things which cause these impure thoughts?
B. Am I guilty of the sin of unbelief?
1. In spite of all God has done for me, do I still refuse to believe His Word.
2. Do I live as if God does not exist, trying to solve problems in the flesh instead of depending upon Him?
III. Sins of treatment of others.
A. Have I forgiven everyone?
1. Is there any malice, spite, hatred, or envy in my heart?
2. Do I cherish grudges?
3. Have I refused to make it right?
B. Do I get angry?
1. Is there any uprising within?
2. Is it true that I still lose my temper?
3. Does wrath sometimes hold me in its grip?
C. Do I get impatient and irritated?
1. Do little things upset me?
2. Am I sweet, calm and unruffled under all circumstances?
D. Have I been dishonest?
1. Is my business open and above board?
2. Do I give a yard for a yard and a pound for a pound?
IV. Sins of worry and fretting.
A. Is my business open and above board?
B. Do I give a yard for a yard and a pound for a pound?
V. Sins of pride.
A. Am I worried and anxious?
B. Do I fail to trust God for my temporal and spiritual needs?
C. Am I continually crossing bridges before I come to them?
VI. Sins of omission.
A. Do I rob God?
1. Have I stolen time that belongs to Him? How about Tithe?
2. Have I withheld my tithe from the church?
B. Have I wronged anyone and failed to make restitution?
1. Has the spirit of Zaccheus possessed me?
2. Have I restored the many little things God has showed me?
C. Have I lost my first love?
1. Do I have conviction without love or love without conviction?
2. Am I no longer on fire for God?
D. Have I omitted the thirst for “fresh oil?”
1. Do I still long for God’s Power?
2. Do I live life without the Holy Spirit?
VII. Sins of neglect of spiritual exercise.
A. Have I committed the sin of prayerlessness?
1. Do I keep the “morning watch?”
2. Do I have family devotion or family altar?
3. Am I an intercessor, praying for others?
4. How much time do I spend in prayer?
5. Do I spend at least an hour?
6. Have I crowded prayer out of my life?
B. Am I neglecting God’s Word?
1. How many chapters do I read each day?
2. Am I a Bible student?
3. Do I draw my source of supply from the scriptures?
C. Have I failed to confess Christ openly?
1. Am I ashamed of Jesus?
2. Do I keep my mouth closed when I am surrounded by worldly people?
3. Am I witnessing daily?
VIII. Sins of pre-occupation.
A. Am I worldly?
1. Do I love the glitter, the pomp, and the show of this life?
2. Do I love rock-n-roll and other worldly styles of music?
3. Do I like to dress in the styles of the world?
4. Do I have worldly ways and tastes?
5. Do I love worldly T.V. programs and radio stations?
B. Have I stolen?
1. Do I have little things that do not belong to me?
2. Have I refused to return them and confess my sin?
C. Is my life filled with lightness and frivolity?
1. Is my conduct unchristian?
2. Do I engage in reckless and wild laughter and behavior?
3. Do I crack dirty jokes and think nothing of it?
4. Would the world by my actions consider me on its side?
IX. Sins of negative thoughts about others.
A. Is there any feeling of jealousy?
1. When another is preferred before me do I envy them?
2. Do I get jealous of those who can pray, speak, and do things better than me?
B. Am I offended easily?
1. When people fail to notice me and pass by without speaking does it hurt?
2. If others are made much of and I am neglected, how do I feel about it?
C. Do I see negative in every person and situation?
1. Is it true that I seem to find trouble everywhere?
2. Do I invariably see bad when I could just as well see good?
D. Do I try to get people to like me?
1. Am I genuinely interested in other people?
2. Do I smile genuinely at all times?
3. Do I remember names?
4. Am I a good listener?
5. Do I talk in terms of the other man’s interest?
6. Do I make others feel important sincerely?
E. How do I change thinking?
1. Do I argue or avoid it?
2. Do I show respect for the other person’s opinions?
3. Do I keep from saying that he is wrong?
4. If I am wrong do I admit it quickly, emphatically?
5. Do I begin in a friendly way?
6. Do I get the other person saying “Yes, yes!” immediately?
7. Do I let the other man do a great deal of the talking?
8. Do I try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view?
9. Am I sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires?
10. Do I appeal to his nobler motives?
11. Do I dramatize my ideas?
12. Do I throw down a challenge?
F. How do I correct?
1. Do I begin with praise and honest appreciation?
2. Do I call attention to mistakes indirectly?
3. Do I talk about my own mistakes before criticizing?
4. Do I ask questions instead of giving orders?
5. Do I let the other man save face?
6. Do I praise the slightest improvement?
7. Do I give the other person a fine reputation to live up to?
8. Do I use encouragement?
9. Do I make the fault easy to correct?
10. Do I make them happy to do what I suggest?
Repentance implies the crucified life. There is a whole teaching in the book of Romans about how the believer has been crucified with Christ. The truth is that until a person accepts their own death with Christ by faith they only know part of the Gospel. When Jesus died, He not only paid the penalty for our sins but he included us with Him in his death. Listen to what the Apostle says concerning our death with Christ:
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” (Romans 6:1-18)
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
This truth is arguably the greatest reason that after regeneration a person looks back at their life before coming to know God and sees things completely differently. We see certain facts here that are implied in repentance. First of all, Christ comes to live in our heart, literally. Although there is no physical change as we have discussed previously, there is a huge spiritual change. God has taken his abode in our spirits making our body the temple of the Holy Spirit. The second part of this truth that is implied as part of the overall teaching regarding repentance is the fact that when Jesus died on the cross, he carried us with him. Imagine, if you will, a dead man laying in the casket and various persons walking up to the dead corpse and offering various forms of temptation to the dead corpse. Which temptation will most overcome the dead man? None! He is dead. Watchman Nee describes the crucified life in his masterful works, The Normal Christian Life and The Spiritual Man. I would strongly recommend both of these books to anyone who truly wants to experience the power of the resurrection in your life. This is the life of repentance.
Another implication that follows the confession, the accepting of one’s death with Christ is the public testimony of such an occasion in the life of a new believer. When there is a death, there is usually a funeral where testimony is made concerning the deceased. In the case of the new Christian, the OLD MAN is now dead and buried with Christ. The perfect occasion for giving testimony to this fact is the ordinance of Baptist. Unfortunately, church history has watered down the original meaning of baptism. There is a teaching that Baptism is some form of right that results in one’s salvation but that is not the Bible intention at all. Then, there is the false teaching that Baptism is sprinkling but that misses the true meaning and purpose of Baptism. Picture, if you will, the dead man in the casket being taken to a spot of ground in the cemetery and then after certain words, songs and prayers there is only a small hand full of dirt thrown over the casket which sits on top of the ground. Well, you would say, that is hardly a burial at all. This is precisely why sprinkling does not picture what the Bible intended in regards to baptism. Let us read what the Apostle says:
“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.” (Romans 6:4-7)
Do you see the picture? Here is the dead man, your old man, your old life, the old you. That man is now dead and no longer has any power over you. When you come to the church offer yourself for baptism, you are arranging the funeral ceremony of the OLD MAN. When you step into the water, you are making a ceremonial burial when you go under the water. Then, when you come back up out of the water, you are symbolically raising from the dead. That is the testimony of a Christian. They are no longer the same, The OLD MAN is now dead and buried and there is a new man that walks not in the power of the flesh, but in the power of a resurrected life. We literally “put off” the old man and “put on” the new man in our lives. This, more than any other thing, is what makes the life after regeneration so different.
“That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)
Now it should be apparent why the Bible uses the word into when it says, “Whosoever believeth in (into) him…..” . The reason is that in repentance a person sees themselves as being placed in Christ and being dead, buried and raised again “in Christ.” This is what we have been speaking about throughout this whole book. This is what it means to come to “know God.” This is what it means to see the intrinsic value of the best end for God and the whole universe. The best end is for the OLD MAN to be crucified and for us to be risen to walk in newness of life. The thing that makes the life so different after regeneration as we described in our chart earlier in this book, is the fact that when we are “in Christ” we now have His resurrection power. The apostles experienced this power when they did many of the miracles that Jesus did while he was walking the earth. Many other Christians down through history have experienced the resurrection power in many other ways, answers to prayer, miraculous healings, gifts of discernment, unusual spiritual awareness of world issues and of the character of individuals, even certain instances of true speaking in tongues where the speaker was using his own language and the hearer understood in his own tongue. Who can compare the value of living the resurrected life when placed against a life lived for self-gratification and no Holy Spirit indwelling, not to mention the absence of resurrection power. The sad thing is that there are far too many so-called Christians that know nothing of repentance, of dying with Christ, or of being raised to a life of resurrection power.
This also explains why the various traits of disinterested benevolence become the mark of the true Christian and the traits of selfishness remain in the lives of all others, even in the lives of some who claim to be Christians but obviously have never experienced the repentance of which we speak. This is why the person who has repented wants nothing of the old life and why they are so anxious to confess their faults one to another and to pray for one another that they may be healed. This is why so many desire not to cover their sins but to confess and forsake them that they may find mercy and power. Resurrection power can never fill the life until the sin is removed completely. No one that is walking “in Christ” and in the power of the resurrection has any care for the former life. If any of the flesh does creep in for any reason, the confession list that we have put here in this chapter will be used over and over to keep the life clean and available for total control by God, unlimited power of the Holy Spirit, and resurrection life. The outward life cannot but be changed in a miraculous way when true repentance is made a reality in the life.
Lastly, repentance implies faith and confidence in God in all things. Having crucified the OLD MAN and risen to walk in newness of life, in resurrection power, there is a desire to know all that there is to know about God and experience all that God has for us. There can be no controversy with God on this side of the resurrection because He is the very source of life and any and all that God is or does only builds more confidence than ever in the life of the one who is raised to walk in newness of life “in Christ Jesus.” This state of mind creates the greatest confidence in God and his promises that there is in the world. Imagine, if you will, a person who has died, been to his own funeral, and then because of some miracle is able to walk away from his own lifeless body with a new-found life that will never die and provides the energy and direction for the new life. This person has a whole new lease on life. He doesn’t see things the same any more. He is not afraid of death because he has already died. He will face unbelievable heartache and misery as if it did not exist and he will die with a smile on his face as he sees Jesus Christ with open arms welcoming him to his new home up in heaven. What can possibly be compared to this life? Nothing! No wonder a truly repentant person has complete confidence in all that God is and says in the Word of God. God is his very life. Without God, he is laying back in the casket a lifeless body with no hope and no power over the power of sin.
I will never forget my experience with experiencing death with Christ. I had come to know God as a child but had never really had a repentance experience until later into my 20’s. I had been reading the writings of Watchman Nee, a great Chinese Christian whose book, “The Normal Christian Life” has given me more spiritual insight than any other book aside from the bible and the writings of Charles G. Finney. One day while standing on a street corner and waiting for my ride to work, I was overwhelmed with the love of God in such a remarkable way that I was overcome with tears and simultaneously wrote a short song entitled, “Thank God I Am Dead.” I believe that I experienced the death and resurrection that we are discussing here in such a real way that my life was transformed. Please understand that repentance is only the beginning. There is much that a new Christian needs to learn about the life of the cross and the walk with Christ after being buried and having raised from the dead. I am listing the teachings here that everyone who has truly repented needs to know as taught by Watchman Nee. To live the resurrection life will change you forever.
If you would like to find the online books for new Christians please visit the following link:
I have been putting these teachings on my new website IF YOU COULD KNOW THAT JESUS LOVES YOU.
The first lesson is for anyone who has never accepted Jesus as their personal Savior, turning their life over to him and placing it into the hands of their loving Savior from sin.
- http://ifyoucouldknow.info/born-again-lessons/our-life-lesson-16/ – The Greatest Lesson of All after Salvation
Every reader should see in these teachings that repentance only begins at the time of ones regeneration and it continues for the rest of life. Knowing God and walking in the Holy Spirit with the power of the resurrection is something that never dies and will be there when we die and open our eyes in heaven.
What is not considered to be impenitence.
A great mistake is made by some in merely looking at repentance without considering the goal and direction of repentance. There would be no repentance were it not for the intrinsic value of the atonement and of the value of living the resurrection life under the power of God by living that life “in Christ.” So when we come to define impenitence, we cannot just say that it is the absence of repentance since repentance has a greater goal and foundation in mind. There is not so much thought about the sins that one is forsaking as there is in the absolute joy of having a life free of sin and lived under the power of God which can only come through coming to know God in a personal way. Impenitence is not just a lack of emotions because one is not regenerated by emotions in the first place. Impenitence is neither the absence of conviction regarding sin in the life nor a careless disregard for the commandments of God. No sinner would see their sin or the commandments of God in the right light did they not come to know God as we have described in this book.
One cannot say that impenitence is merely intellectual self-justification or a failure to accept the truth of the claims of God. Impenitence is not excuse making which is a result of impenitence but does not constitute it. Impenitence is not loving sin for its own sake or even loving sin in any sense of the word. Impenitence is not a constitutional appetite for sin, a craving for sin or there would be no moral character since such a craving would be an involuntary state of the mind and not subject to the definition of moral choice and virtue. Impenitence is not making excuses, a result of impenitence. It must consist in a lack of virtue as we shall soon see.
The Bible describes impenitence as a most heinous sin. Look at what Jesus said to the cities that would not repent:
“Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.” (Matthew 11:20-24)
We can see in this and other passages in the Bible. Impenitence is not an emotion or part of the physical nature, but it is a phenomena of the will. It is something that one does by choice. When a person values self-indulgence more than the resurrection life in Christ Jesus as we have shown, they are making a conscious choice, not to love sin as an end, but to love self so strongly that nothing can dissuade them from their course of doom. The impenitent have seen, through preaching, the testimony of a Christian, or by some other means the light of the Gospel and the claims of Christ but they choose rather to cling to their selfish ways rather than surrender the will to God. When the claims of God are revealed to the soul of a sinner, he has a choice to make. Either he will yield and become a believer or become stronger in his desire for self-gratification. When this happens, the self-life is strengthened exponentially. This strengthening of self-life is called impenitence. Every sinner is guilty of impenitence because they all have some light. It is those with the most light that are far more guilty than others.
The implications of impenitence.
Since impenitence is the act of cleaving to self-indulgence when under the light of the truth, we can come to certain conclusions regarding this state of the will of a sinner. The first conclusion that is obvious about this state of mind is that the sinner obstinately prefers a petty life of self-gratification over the higher interests of serving a living God and experiencing the power of the resurrection. These impenitent sinners deliberately consider the interests of God to be of no value and the rights of other human beings as contemptible. Sinners completely reject the authority of God and they spurn the law of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They defy God so strongly that they almost challenge God to do His worst. A sinner cares not what is just and equal, especially when such knowledge comes to them through divine light. They turn completely against it on purpose.
The impenitent will justify their past sins and they will hold on to self-indulgence in the very presence of the light of God which proves more than anything else that they justify their own rebellion. When a person can remain impenitent while under the light of the Glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, they are taking sides against God and his salvation and endorsing all the sins of both earth and hell.
“Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.” (Matthew 23:34-36)
When a sinner takes this position he is showing the guilt of his past sins. The longer he holds on to his self-gratification memories, the more he is justifying his own actions in his mind. He is almost re-committing things that his heart says were wrong in the past and yet the sinner remains fast. This is self-justification, it is charging God with sin in direct controversy with God. It is denying God’s right to govern. The sinner thus shirks his own duty to obey.
Impenitence is deliberate rejecting of the mercy of God, almost making God a tyrant with no right to govern but who ought to be resisted. No sinner can manifest confidence in God while he is impenitent. He shows no confidence in God’s character or government, rejects His works and ways. Impenitence practically charges God with usurping authority that is not His. This is moral enmity against God, the same type that was manifest against Jesus as He shined the light of truth upon the sinners of his day and it resulted in them having no conscience while they murdered the Prince of Life. It is guilt of mortal enmity against God.
Characteristics and evidences of impenitence.
There is a definite indifference to the sins of men where impenitence is evident. It is a sin-justifying state of mind. The sinner is complacent toward sin and sinners. He is the friend of sinners and the enemy of God. Anyone who is impenitent will manifest it by a lack of zeal in opposing sin or in the promoting of reformation. He has no real interest in expelling sin out of the world or in establishing righteousness in the earth. Impenitence has no visible sympathy with God, his providential and moral government, and has no desire to justify God’s ways. It complains at the strictness of God’s commandments and even blames God for the circumstances that are present in life. This shows a rebellious state of mind, a lack of confidence in God’s character, faithfulness and promises, a real distrust of God at heart.
There is no peace of mind in impenitence. The very lack of such peace shows that the heart is in a state of impenitence and rebellion. Selfishness controls the life of the impenitent with a spirit of self-indulgence, a desire to satisfy the appetites and passions. This can be seen in the use of tobacco, alcohol, drugs, or of any other appetite that is against the law of reason since it will destroy the life of the impenitent. It is self-justification in the face of obvious harm to the body or soul. It makes excuses for neglecting duty, for not being what God requires a person to be. The impenitent mind is at war with God.
Impenitence has more fear than confidence in God. It has no desire to know or embrace truth. It is prejudiced and not candid in its view of truth. Impenitence has no desire to be searched, to have the words and ways brought to light by the truth or to be reproved.
“For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (John 3:20-21)
Impenitence does not result in reformation of life and if there is any reformation it is only partial and not complete. There is no dying to self or to the OLD MAN . Impenitence says, “Why should the Devil have all the good music.” It still loves the things of the world and seeks only to put a little show of religion on that which the heart loves. It is totally unwilling to be sold out to God. Impenitence feels that such a state would be cruel and it thus charges God with being overbearing and legalistic. “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10) The impenitent by showing that they disobey God in one point show that they obey Him in nothing. They have no respect for God’s authority and think that they can obey in one or two areas and then disobey God in some other area. They have never died and their self-indulgence will come out to show that they are, “in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.”
When a person takes a look at the repentance confession list above and takes a position that this is going too far, then it is obvious that they do not have a penitent state of mind. A heart that is filled with the Love of God and a desire to crucify the OLD MAN will stop at nothing to make a clean sweep of his confession and restitution. The impenitent think that doing such is going too far. He is grasping after the world with “covetousness which is idolatry.” Any man that is in love with the world has not the love of God dwelling in them.
An impenitent person cares not for sinners, to make them free. Had he become free from sin in his own life, he would want the same for others. As long as there is a sympathy for the sinner in his sin there is evidence of impenitence in the life of the sinner merely from a lack of zeal for rescuing other sinners from damnation. There are many who claim to be Christians who will fall into this class of individuals. They care not for their dying souls, they are hypocrites. Instead, they make apologies for sin and take part with sinners in their own sins. They see no need for separation from the world or the things of the world.
A person who is impenitent gives strong evidence of impenitence by the very spiritual blindness that keeps them from seeing the justice of God and the awfulness of sin. When issues that require moral integrity present themselves to the impenitent, they take a weak position at best and show a distinct lack of conscience as if their conscience was seared. Their heart is hard and impenitent. They have a certain spiritual sloth and indolence. This is not the case in one who has died to the OLD MAN. They are not spiritually idle like the impenitent who lounge in indolence and have no interest in pursuing spiritual purity and holiness without which no man shall see the Lord. One may find many who will make a show of turning to God but they stop short of repentance, confession, and crucifying the OLD MAN in their lives. Their heart is showing by the evidence of their life that they are not really Christians after all but impenitent sinners.
We live in a day and time where salvation is preached without much mention of repentance. We have people who have intellectual belief in the facts concerning the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ but they have never experienced the life of the cross in their practical experience. They don’t have any idea of what we have discussed here mostly because such truth is not preached or taught in most pulpits in our time. We should, however, realize that repentance and faith are almost like the uniting of a husband and wife. “What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” We have a lack of repentance because so many think that the state of the mind and the evidence of the life are not connected for some reason.
Yet, the Bible teaches that there is no salvation without repentance, a condition of salvation. This is one of those self-evident truths that cannot be avoided. A sinner cannot be saved unless he repents for without repentance God cannot forgive and even if he could forgive the sinner, such forgiveness would not be unto salvation. The only faith which saves is as the Bible describes so well:
“Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward (into) God, and faith toward (into) our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:21)
The only way to repent into God is to accept the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ as being all inclusive and believing that we were there when Christ died, was buried and rose again. It is a practical death of the OLD MAN and being risen to walk in newness of life. Baptism has no meaning at all unless the OLD MAN has actually died and needs a burial service. Most baptisms have no meaning at all in the life of a professing Christian.
Until this happens, the sinner cannot be at peace with God and he is at war with himself and with God at the same time. His conscience cannot be satisfied, he has mutiny in his heart and controversy against every command of God. He tries to control his will but cannot and until he repents he will continue to carry elements of Hell with him throughout life. Sooner or later these elements of hell will burst aflame and consume the soul with unquenchable fire. Oh, sinner, don’t miss this all important truth. Repent before it is too late. Take the list, confess your sins to God and man, and then accept the complete death of the OLD MAN. Live in the power of the resurrection and you will see miracles happening in your life. You will have the gifts of the spirit. It is one or the other, life or death. Choose life and you will never be the same.