Tag Archives: repentance

Soul-Winning For Jesus: Producing Repentance — Jon Mitchell

Have you ever wondered why David, “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22; 1 Sam. 13:14), never showed any sign of remorse over committing adultery with Bathsheba and his attempted deception and ultimate murder of her husband (2 Sam. 11)? After all, it was David’s faith that motivated him to face the giant Goliath (1 Sam. 17), and it was his love for God and compassion for others that kept him from killing Saul, his enemy, when he had the chance (1 Sam. 24, 26). This same man would later showed kindness to the crippled grandson of his slain enemy (2 Sam. 9), and yet a short time after that he would give in to his lustful temptations and sleep with the wife of one of his most loyal soldiers, all while giving no sign of feeling guilty about his sins.

Yet, this all changed – apparently in an abrupt manner – when the prophet Nathan called him out on the carpet for his sins with the forceful accusation, “You are the man!” (2 Sam. 12:1-15). One minute David, blind to the fact that Nathan’s story of the rich man who killed the poor man’s one prized lamb related to his own sin, was indignant over the perceived sins of others. The next minute, after being indicted for his adultery, deception, enticements to drunkenness (cf. Hab. 2:15), and murder, David was confessing his sin against God with the greatest of sorrow and remorse (Ps. 51:1-15). What brought the penitent change of heart?

First, Nathan forcefully brought David’s sins to his attention by directly attributing the sinful actions of the rich man in the parable to the king himself while also warning him of the consequences of his wrongdoing (2 Sam. 12:1-7a, 9-12). Too often, we see others commit sin and naively hope that they will repent without us having to inconvenience ourselves with the potential awkwardness of rebuking and warning them. This shows within us a lack of spirituality (Gal. 6:1) and concern for the well-being of their souls and our own (James 5:19-20; Ezek. 3:17-21). Repentance – and forgiveness itself – will never come without a direct acknowledgement of the wrong done (1 John 1:9) and fear of God’s wrathful punishment (Rom. 2:4-11; Heb. 12:28-29). If we want to bring about a change of heart within the sinner, we must rebuke and warn them lovingly and truthfully (Eph. 4:15; Acts 2:36-37), humbly and gently rather than argumentatively (2 Tim. 2:24-26), and yet sharply if need be (Tit. 1:13). We must also never forget that we ourselves will never truly repent of ourselves without first acknowledging our wrongs with honest and open hearts (Luke 8:15) while having that godly fear (2 Cor. 5:11).

Secondly, Nathan reminded David of God’s great love for him by listing all the blessings the Creator had bestowed upon the king (2 Sam. 12:7b-8). In Steven Spielberg’s epic World War II drama Saving Private Ryan, Private James Ryan (Matt Damon) is saved from death by the sacrifice of Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) and most of his platoon. Decades later, an elderly Ryan looks down at Miller’s grave at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial and tearfully confesses that he’s tried to live his life the best he could in order to atone for Miller giving his life for his. Many veterans whose friends have died in battle to save them feel the same way. Yet God gave a much greater sacrifice when he gave his Son up to die a horrendous death on a cross to save us, wretched sinners who were his enemies rather than friends (John 3:16; Rom. 5:6-11). Add to this all the wonderful blessings that God gives to us on a daily basis (Matt. 5:45; Jas. 1:17), just as he did with David. When we remember all that God does for us with unselfish and humble hearts, we will be motivated to detest the sin that offends our Savior and repent.

This is true because our humble and honest remembrance of God’s great love, mercy, and numerous blessings on our behalf will bring about godly sorrow, which leads to repentance (2 Cor. 7:9-10). In Spielberg’s movie, the older Ryan breaks down in tears as he approaches Captain Miller’s grave, no doubt due to remembering the great sacrifice that man and others made for him. Likewise, the psalm David wrote after Nathan rebuked him for his sins is filled with remorse and anguish as he remembers the salvation God offers to him (Ps. 51:8, 12, 14). Unlike worldly grief, which leads to spiritual death in hell (2 Cor. 7:10b; cf. Rom. 6:23; Rev. 21:8) and is selfishly based only on sorrow over the punishment one receives here on earth for one’s sins, godly grief is based on anguish that one committed the sin in the first place due to the great offense it gives to our Savior and King. Only this will truly lead us to repent and thus be saved (2 Cor. 7:10). Do we grieve over our sins, and if so, what kind of sorrow is it? We should examine ourselves (2 Cor. 13:5) so we will know if we need godly sorrow in our lives.

Furthermore, godly sorrow will motivate one to “bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Matt. 3:8; cf. Acts 26:20). The thief who has worldly sorrow only over the fact that he got caught and is now being punished will steal again at the first opportunity. However, the thief who has godly sorrow over the fact that he stole in the first place because it grieved his Creator and Savior will now detest the very idea of stealing and thus be motivated to never do it again. As a result of the repentance brought on by their godly sorrow, the Corinthians became very diligent in their strong desire to fearfully and zealously serve God and clear themselves of the guilt of their sins which they now indignantly detested (2 Cor. 7:10-11). Likewise, we never read of David committing adultery or murder again after his repentance over his wrongdoing with Bathsheba and Uriah. In other words, their actions proved that they had truly repented. When we commit to repentance, do our actions prove it? Or are we deceiving ourselves?

Too many in the church today have no idea what true repentance means, or how it is produced. This contributes to the lack of true conversion to Christ among many, the lack of zealous commitment to his cause among more, and the growing immorality and apostasy within the brotherhood. We must go out of our way to teach potential converts the true meaning of repentance and how it is produced before we baptize them, while reminding new converts and ourselves of how true repentance is manifested within our lives. With God’s help, doing so will have a highly positive impact on our own spiritual well-being and that of the church overall.

Jon preaches for the Calhoun Church of Christ in Calhoun, GA. He is the editor of the Carolina Messenger.

Keeping New Life In Christ Alive And Growing – Burl Curtis

It is firmly established that there is new life in Christ.  Jesus told Nicodemus, “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).  Paul wrote, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).  But whether it is plant or animal just beginning a new life is not the goal.  A farmer may plant a field of wheat; he will be glad when it comes up a good stand; but he will be very disappointed if it stands there and doesn’t grow and instead withers and dies.  He will have no grain to make bread.  The same is true of a dairy calf.  If it doesn’t stay alive and grow he will have no cow to produce milk.

The one who has new life in Christ must keep it alive and growing.  In fact Peter said, “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.  For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them” (2 Pet. 2:20-21).

Need to have a good start.  Are you truly sorry for the sins you have committed?  Do you strongly determine to never sin again and stay true to the new life you have received?  Whether you stay alive and grow will depend largely on how much you want to.  When people do not remain faithful, “they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame” (Heb. 6:6b).  If you have a great love for Jesus you certainly would not want to crucify Him again and put Him to open shame.

To keep the new life alive and growing we must keep the lines of communication open and in use.  We might have the latest communication device but if we don’t use it, we can’t stay in touch with our friends.  God keeps in touch with us through the Bible and we stay in touch with Him through prayer.  To keep the new life in Christ alive and growing we need to read the Bible and pray.  Paul told Timothy, “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:13).  He also told the Thessalonians, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17).

Choose a congregation that teaches the truth and become a member of it.  Attend faithfully and get involved in the work.  We need the encouragement of our brethren.  Barnabas was a great example of this.  When “Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5), stayed in Jerusalem longer than they had intended to, Joses (Barnabas) sold land and laid the money at the apostles’ feet to take care of them and the widows (Acts 4:36-37; 6:1).  After his shipwreck on his way to Rome, Paul received encouragement when he saw the brethren coming out to meet him and his companions “as far as Appii Forum and Three Inns.  When Paul saw them he thanked God and took courage” (Acts 28:15).  This is a strong reason we should not “forsake the assembling of ourselves together” for it is in the assembly that we “stir up love and good works” (Heb. 10:24-25).

Pick companions who will help you stay alive and grow.  Paul said, “Do not be deceived, ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’” (1 Cor. 15:33).  If you start running with a crowd who spends all their time playing video games, watching TV, talking on and watching smart phones, you will find you have no time to remember God or keep your new life in Christ alive.

Choose a husband or wife who will help you remain a faithful worker for the Lord.  Sometimes family members will not support your new life; this makes it much harder but you must love the Lord more.  Jesus commanded “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.  And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matt. 10:37).

Know your gifts.  God has given everyone gifts that may be used in service to Him.  Knowing your gifts is not enough.  You must use those gifts and become more skilled in using them (Matt. 25:14-30).

Keep good reading materials, DVDs, and tapes in your home.  These items are good if they teach the truth.  To keep the new life in Christ alive and growing you must have your “senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb. 5:14).  All sermons, Bible teaching materials, religious articles and TV programs must be checked by the Scriptures.  Gospel publications try to teach the truth, but the articles are written by men and are subject to error.  So check everything by the Holy Scriptures.

Keep your heart humble.  Over and over God’s people in the O.T. forgot God and were lifted up with pride.  They sinned and aroused God’s anger and suffered defeat.  Like Jesus, we must remain “meek (gentle) and lowly in heart” (Matt. 11:29).