|Friday, 22 May 2009 15:43|
What is true repentance? This morning I read Matthew 26 and as I reflected on it, I was struck by Matthew Henry's commentary on Peter's denial of Christ. Henry writes, "Peter wept bitterly. Sorrow for sin must not be slight, but great and deep. Peter, who wept so bitterly for denying Christ, never denied him again, but confessed him often in the face of danger. True repentance for any sin will be shown by the contrary grace and duty; that is a sign of our sorrowing not only bitterly, but sincerely."
The most helpful thing that a Christian believer can do to help a professing Chrisitian who does not appear to have repented is to kindly yet firmly talk with him, opening the Scriptures, and help him see the true state of his heart before God. The book of 1 John was written to help professing Christians have assurance that they are saved (cf. 1 John 5:13) and if we have doubts as to someone's conversion, some time in 1 John will hopefully help to either comfort or convict.
"And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly ethe love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him hought to walk in the same way in which he walked." 1 John 2:3-6 (ESV)
The Westminster Shorter Catechism also helpfully summarizes the Biblical doctrine of repentance so that, in a nutshell, we might know what it is that we it is that we should be looking for in the lives of those who profess Christ.
87. What is repentance unto life?
Repentance unto life is a saving grace,1 whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin,2 and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ,3 doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God,4 with full purpose of, and endeavour after, new obedience.5
1 Acts 11:18
2 Acts 2:37
3 Joel 2:13
4 Jeremiah 31:18-19
5 Psalm 119:59
True repentance is a beautiful thing, as illustrated by the life of Peter who, after being brought to the end of himself, was a new man: humble, yet bold and God-confident, not self confident. Profession of faith without true repentance, however, is an embarrassment to all who call themselves Christians and a defamation of the character of God.
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