Derek Prince - The Full Meaning Of Repentance
And we’re going to look now at the first one, repentance from dead works. First of all, what are dead works? Most of the modern translations say: works or deeds which lead to death. I don’t believe that’s correct. I believe dead works are anything we do when it’s not done in faith to God. Anything not done in faith is a dead work. The only thing that brings life into our activity is faith. So, you may have been a very good churchgoer, you may have given money to the poor, you may have said prayers, but if it wasn’t done in faith it was all dead works. We have to turn away from everything not done in faith. Faith alone gives life to what we believe and what we do. That doesn’t mean that you’ve necessarily been living a sinful life but you just haven’t been alive to God, because faith hasn’t come into your heart and brought the life of God.
Now, it’s very important that we understand what repentance is. Repentance is not an emotion. I’ve seen many times preachers will seek to work people up into an emotional attitude and then call them to faith in Christ. And very, very often that leads to a let down because the emotion runs out and they’re left with nothing. So bear in mind repentance, as defined in the Bible, is not an emotion. It is a decision. It doesn’t spring from the emotions, it springs from the will. If we can reach people’s will, and turn their will, we will see permanent conversions. Many of the so-called conversions in the church today are impermanent because they have never really changed the will of the person. They’ve had an emotional experience, they got excited, maybe they felt wonderful for a few weeks, or months or even years. But, in the end they don’t have what it takes to go through because their will has not been touched.
Now, you know there are two main languages of the Bible, Greek of the New Testament, and Hebrew of the Old. And each of those languages has a specific word for repent. But only if we put the two languages together do we get the full meaning of repentance. The Greek word, in secular language, is always translated to change your mind to change the way you think. So first of all, repentance is changing your mind about the way you’ve been living. I’ve been living to please myself, to do my own thing. From now on I’m going to live to please Jesus, my Savior. It’s a decision. As I said before, it is not an emotion. You can repent without any obvious emotion, but you cannot repent without a change of your will.
And then the Hebrew word, and this is so typical of the Jewish people because they’re a very down-to-earth people. They want to know, Well, what does it work out as? And the Hebrew word for repent means literally to turn around. You’ve been facing one way, the wrong way with your back to God, you turn 180 degrees, face toward God and say, God, here I am. Tell me what to do and I’ll do it. So you put the two together and you have have a complete picture of repentance. Faith comes only after repentance. The whole message of the Bible is in this order: repent and believe. There are lots of people, and some of them are here this morning, who are struggling for faith. The truth is you’re not struggling for faith, you’ve never met the condition of repentance.
You see, it’s the first of the six foundation doctrines. And if you don’t have that foundation stone in place, your building will always be wobbly. I have counseled over the years hundreds of people, hundreds of Christians who’ve come with their personal problems. After a lot of experience I came to this conclusion: At least fifty percent of the problems of professing (or real) Christians are due to one fact: They have never truly repented. They have never really changed their mind. They’ve never really made a decision. They’ve never really surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus in their lives. They’re still thinking about decisions from this point of view, Now, if I do this, what will it do for me? And if I do that, what will it do for me?
When you’ve repented, that’s not the way you think. You think, If I do this, will it glorify Jesus? If I do that, will it glorify Jesus? And so we have multitudes of people, I think especially young people but not only young people, who are double minded. The Bible says a double minded man is unstable in all his ways. He doesn’t have a solid foundation, he can’t produce a stable building. So I invite you just where you are right now, quietly to reflect for a few moments and ask yourself, Have I ever really truly repented? Or, am I still double minded? On Monday my aim is to please Jesus, on Tuesday my aim is to please myself. You see, you’ve got the worst of both worlds, actually. You’d be better off just living in the world, living for yourself because you’re a double minded person, you’re a split personality.