I remember as a child taking long road trips with my family. And I remember getting in trouble a lot. It wasn’t my fault, of course.
You see, one of my two sisters would do something irritating, like not giving me one of their toys that I wanted to play with, and then I would poke them. I’d just quietly poke them in their side every few seconds until they screamed, “Stop it!” And then I would get in trouble and have to apologize.
As prompted by my exasperated parents, I would say, “I’m sorry,” but of course I didn’t mean it. After all, it was my sister’s fault for not letting me have her toy.
Was that true repentance? Obviously not. But what exactly does it mean to truly repent?
People seem to have more misconceptions about repentance than about anything else we do in worship – whether it’s our worship together in church or our private worship at home.
In this two-part devotional message, we will examine five of the most common misconceptions about repentance, along with what God’s Word teaches as the truth. Here are the first two:
- Repentance is not just mouthing words.
True repentance is sincere. In Jeremiah 3:10, God makes His case through the prophet, “Judah didn’t return to me with all her heart – only in pretense.”
When we speak the words of corporate confession in church, do I really mean what I am saying? Am I even thinking about what’s coming out of my mouth, or am I just repeating words I’ve said so many times before? True repentance must be sincere.
- Repentance is not regret for getting caught.
True repentance acknowledges my guilt. In Jeremiah 3:12-13, God pleads with us, “I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt.”
Why is it that I am often blind to my sin until something bad happens as a result? Then I am ready to repent and say how sorry I am so God will fix the situation and make things all better. But is that true repentance? Or is it more an attempt to manipulate God to give me what I want?
True repentance is not about getting what I want. True repentance is an acknowledgement of guilt.
Five Misconceptions about Repentance continues in Part Two.
Written by: Pastor Moser