By Greg Robbins ( e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )
What is repentance? Today the modern meaning of repentance has degenerated to mean simply feeling sorry for your sins. But what does the Bible have to say about repentance? By looking at what the Bible both says and depicts, we can see the true definition of what the word means.
Matthew 4:17 “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Here we see the reason FOR repentance. It is because the kingdom of heaven is at hand. So we can deduce from this passage that repentance is the required preparation for entrance into the kingdom of heaven. Simply put, without repentance someone can neither be prepared for the kingdom of heaven when it comes, nor enter therein.
Luke 3:7-14 “Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which brings not forth good fruit is chopped down, and cast into the fire. And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answered and said unto them, He that has two coats, let him impart to him that has none; and he that has meat, let him do likewise. Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.”
Repentance is fleeing the wrath to come. God is very angry at sinners for their rebellion against his laws. One day in the not too distant future, God will pour out the cup of his wrath upon this world. You can read all about it in the book of Revelation. There is only one way to escape God’s wrath. Acts 20:21 “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” We are to repent, which is to give something up, and to have faith in Jesus Christ, which is to add something that we didn’t have before.
John the Baptist told us how to repent in a practical way. It is to cease living in sin, and to replace this behavior with good works of righteousness. “Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance.” Many people claim to have repented, but their fruits are not worthy of repentance. They still do the things that dishonor and anger God. This is not repentance at all. This is hypocrisy and deception.
John said, “Let him that has two coats, let him impart to him that has none; and he that has meat, let him do likewise.” Repentance involves sharing what we have with needy people. To take the text literally, we are to give away what we have until we have only enough left for one. This is not agreeable to the flesh. However I have discovered that the more that I give away, the more God gives back to me. I have on many occasions given away all that I have. God always gives these things back to me. I have now given away many, many tons of food. I presently feed 40-50 people on a regular basis. Food comes to me by the car loads. I simply cannot give it away fast enough. It just keeps coming in.
John said to the publicans, “Exact no more than that which is appointed you.” Simply put, do not steal or take advantage of anyone. There is more to this than meets the eye. I used to be very dishonest. It kept coming back to me by my being cheated and ripped off. For many years now I have been honest in my dealings with my fellow men. Now nothing is ever stolen from me, nor am I cheated or ripped off any longer. Once in a great while something small might come up missing, but that is extremely rare. The Bible is very clear that we reap what we sow. If we sow dishonesty, we will receive dishonesty.
John said to the soldiers, “Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.” Again there is much more to this than what is seen on the surface. I traveled as a street preacher for many years. My life was threatened thirteen times, I was threatened with broken arms, broken legs, and many other violent acts. Not once has anyone ever laid a finger on me to do me harm. But when I used to be a brawler, hurt was done to me on many occasions.
I have been accused falsely on many, many occasions; but that is part of the persecution that Jesus promised. However in false accusations like John spoke to the soldiers about, it does not ever happen to me. I’m never accused of doing evil deeds. I’m only accused of being wicked for my Christian lifestyle.
To be content with your own wages. I have discovered that being discontented about wages is it’s own curse and punishment. When I always sought for more money and possessions, I was never happy. How could I be? I always focused on what I didn’t have. One of the greatest blessings in my entire life was to learn to be content with what I have. This has brought happiness, peace, and many contented feelings. 1 Timothy 6:6-8 “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”
In every area of life, repentance brings corresponding blessings. We have simply been blinded to what the true facts are. God isn’t trying to take away all of our fun, possessions, and position in life. He is attempting to take away what is harmful and to replace it with his blessings.