Doug Batchelor - Real Repentance
You know Jesus said, in the message to the church of Laodicea, and matter of fact I might read that, and you find it in Revelation chapter 3, verse 17. "Because you say, 'I'm rich and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing', and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and blind and poor and naked, I counsel you to buy of me gold refined in the fire, that you might be rich; and white garments, that you might be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and your eyes anointed with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent."
And that's the theme of our message this morning, we're going to be talking about what real repentance looks like. You know, before God can wash away the stain of sin, first you need to be aware that there is a stain on the garment, and that happens as you approach the light of God. So you read in God's word, his word is a lamp and a light, you look at the goodness and the glory of Jesus on the cross. That then, by contrast, reflects on our lives and we recognize there's a problem.
I'll tell you a quick story. When I was a little boy, oh, I must have been four and a half, five years old, living with my father in Southern California and my dad had an interesting piece of equipment there in the hallway upstairs by his bedroom, it was a shoe shine machine. I still see them today, it was a chrome motor that basically had a pedestal that sat on the carpet, and it had a brush, a black brush that stuck out one side, big furry black brush, and a red brush, I didn't know why he had a red brush because he had no red shoes, that stuck out of the other side, and a big button on the top. And before my dad went to work, he'd walk out in the hall, he'd step on the button and all of a sudden the machine would begin to spin very fast, powerful motor, and it would go woosh. And he'd buff his feet under his shoe shine machine, he'd step on it and he'd go to work.
Once, I used to love to play with the shoe shine machine when I was that age, and I'd just sit there and I'd turn it on, I tried to stop it and it would make my hands hot because I could never quite stop the motor, it was too powerful. But it was fun, it gave me a sense of power, I could turn this thing off and on.
One morning, I woke up before anyone else, it was Sunday, they were sleeping in and everyone was asleep, I got bored, I walked out in the hall and so for a few minutes I played with the shoe shine machine, turned it off, turn it on, turn it off, turn it on. And then I thought well, this is not made for just turning it off and on, it's made for shining shoes, I'm going to make my dad very happy, I will shine his shoes.
So I quietly opened his bedroom door, I tiptoed into the bedroom, he used to always kick his shoes off by the wall, and I picked up his two black dress shoes and I brought them out in the hall. I quietly shut the door and I was going to shine his shoes, I thought, now wait a second, if I'm not mistaken, there is some shoe polish underneath the sink in the bathroom. So I went into the bathroom, I opened the cupboard, and sure enough there was that bottle of shoe polish. Now see, this was the liquid "Griffin Shoe Polish" that you apply with an applicator, I did not know that back then and so I'm trying to figure out how this all works, and I figured, well black shoe polish, it was clear the bottle was black, black shoe polish must go on the black brush. So I fought this applicator off the top and I poured a generous amount of black shoe polish on the black brush, and then I turned on the machine and something terrible happened.
First, the machine began to bounce because all of it had soaked on one side and it was out of balance, and so the machines hopping a little bit, and then it picks up speed and all this happens in a fraction of a second. Picks up speed and it goes whoosh and it just sprayed basically a black rainbow up the wall, through the face on the painting of a Spanish soldier, a conquistador my dad had on the wall, across the ceiling, down the other side, and through the carpet. And I saw that, almost instantly I hit the button and I turned it off because I knew that was not how I was supposed to shine his shoes. And I looked at that black rainbow and I thought, wow, I better go back to bed, I saw no way out of this one.
So I just left all the apparatus there in the hall and I went back into the bedroom and I acted like I was asleep. Now I shared a bedroom with my brother and I also had a step-brother down the hall. Eventually, it took forever, I heard my father, he was making the noise, I could hear he's waking up. And pretty soon I heard some bang in the bedroom and I heard the bedroom door open, and he walked out into the hall, and then I heard him make some noise that I'd never heard him make before, and he kinda, "What, who, ah", and then he call out my name. He said, "Dougie," and I thought, why is he calling my name? Nobody saw me, nobody will know, and I had, could have been my brother, could have been my stepbrother.
And he comes and he opens up the bedroom door, turns on the light, said, "Dougie," I didn't say anything. "Dougie," and I thought, oh, he's serious, I said, "Yeah?" You know, I'm acting like I'm waking up, he said, "Get in here." So I kinda crawl out of bed and I go off into the hall, and I must be looking pretty guilty, he points to this black mess in the hallway and he said, "You know anything about this?"
Well I'm thinking, you know I wanted to tell the truth but I thought, I'm going to be in big trouble, this is a big mess and I thought nobody saw me, there's no way in the world he's going to know that I was responsible, so I said, "No." He said, "I'm going to ask you again, do you know anything about how this happened?" And you know, once you start lying it gets easier to keep on, I said, "No," he said, "Okay." So he sits down on a bench that conveniently was right there in the hall and he said, "Well, I'm going to spank you until you tell me the truth," and he takes me and he puts me across his knee and he begins to paddle my posterior. And while he's spanking me, I'm starting out, I'm going, "I didn't do it, I didn't do it, I didn't do it," and somewhere along the way you know, you snap under the torture, and I go, "I did it, I did it."
And he sat me down and he said, "I'm not spanking you for making a mistake, I'm not spanking you for making a mess, I'm spanking you because you lied to me." He said, "Now stop crying and go in the bathroom wash your face." So I went whimpering off into the bathroom and I remember I had to stand on a little stool to get into the sink, and I stood on the stool and I looked in the mirror, I had black spots all over my face. I'm looking at my father and I'm going, "I didn't do it, I don't know who did it, someone probably broke in, a robber came and he played with the shoeshine machine." I don't know who I thought I was fooling but I looked in that mirror when the bathroom light was on and I said, "Busted." That's probably not what I said but that's what I thought, I said, "Woe is me, I am undone."
And this is what happens when a person comes into the blazing glory of God's goodness, his purity and his holiness, by contrast we see our sin and you've got one of two choices. Draw close to the Lord, and yes, you will have your sin exposed in the light but he will then cleanse you from your sin, or turn away back into the darkness and the ignorance. Don't be afraid to come into the light of God's glory.
So, that leads us to the next big step, which is what real repentance is all about. Now when we talk about the story of sin and repentance, so many people go to the great sin of David that you find, it's called "David's Great Transgression," and I'm not going to rehearse all the sordid details of this story, we all know that David committed a terrible sin with Bathsheba. Bathsheba was married to one of David's faithful soldiers by the name of Uriah, and David tempted Bathsheba, he saw her bathing from the roof, called for her, he enticed her, they had an affair together, she became pregnant, and then David doesn't want to be exposed and rather than repenting and confessing the sin, he tries to cover it up and hide it, tries to cover his tracks.
And so in order to do that, he's willing to sacrifice and murder, basically, through the sword of the children of Ammon, he sends Uriah on a suicide mission so he's killed in battle. And Bathsheba eventually has her baby and David thinks, "Okay, nobody knows," forgetting you can't hide from the Lord, God sees everything. And then Nathan the prophet comes to David and he tells David this parable about a shepherd who's got this one sheep that the family loves, it's the family pet. His neighbor's a rich rancher with thousands of sheep, someone comes to visit the rich rancher and the rancher takes this one man's only sheep, butchers it, and feeds it to his company. And David hears that and he's so outraged Nathan tells him the story, he says, "That man is going to die and he's going to pay fourfold," and before David even calms down Nathan says, "Thou art the man," and he goes on and explains what David had done.
You can read about this in 2 Samuel, it talks about the sin of David, and when David sinned, it says in 2 Samuel 11, and in verse 27, "The thing that David had done displeased the Lord," and he didn't repent. So finally, he had to be convicted and confronted with his sin. And after Nathan the prophet told this story, he said, "You are the man, you're the man. Uriah had one wife and you took his wife, and you had a whole harem of wives, and then you had him murdered."
And when you really think about it, what he did was extraordinarily despicable. He says, "You have killed," and this by the way is 2 Samuel 12, verse 9, "You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, you've taken his wife to be your wife, you've killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon," and there was a terrible penalty that came for David because of that. But finally, David, when he heard this, he says in verse 13, "I have sinned."
Now whatever David did he did with all of his heart, there's a lot of people in the church out there, they want to sin like David but they don't want to repent like David. When David was finally convicted of his sin, he said, "Woe is me, I have sinned," and he went and he laid on the ground and the baby of David and Bathsheba was stricken with illness, and he went and he laid on the ground and he prayed and he repented for seven days. Now, a lot of people I know, if they want to sin like David, they don't want to repent like David, and he confessed, he repented of his sin. And I told you that repentance is a difficult thing but it actually leads to a beautiful thing.
During this time, if you've got a Bible and you look in Psalm chapter 51, and a lot of folks are using "The Revival" now as their church service and hopefully you've got a Bible handy. You can look in Psalm 51, you'll notice that in the introduction it says, "To the chief musician. A psalm of David, when Nathan the Prophet went to him after he had gone into Bathsheba," and this is ostensibly after David said, "I have sinned." He says, "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to your lovingkindness, according to the multitude of your tender mercies, blot out my transgression, wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, cleanse me from my sin."
He calls it iniquity, wickedness, sin, he does not hide, he completely unfolds what he has done. "I acknowledge my transgression, my sin is always before me. Against you and you only, I've sinned." He says that because ultimately, all sin is against God, the creator of all people and all things, and it was his law he had broken, so now why is he praying this prayer? I'm not going to read it all, I hope you do that, it says, "Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones you have broken may rejoice."
The purpose of repentance is only to make you feel bad long enough so you can really enjoy a new life, God does not want us to live in misery forever but he wants us to truly humble ourselves that he might lift us up. "Hide your face from my sins and blot out my iniquities," I'm reading in verse 10, Psalm 51, verse 10, "Create in me a clean heart."
Now this is what we're after in this series, the new heart, it is a miracle of God's creation through His Spirit. You want the new heart, you must repent of and confess your sins, and I'll say more about repentance in a moment. "Create in me a clean heart, O God, renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence," what a terrible thing to grieve away the Holy Spirit. "Do not take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me," notice, "The joy," now don't you want the joy of the Lord? Repentance must come first. "Restore unto me the joy of your salvation," you go down to verse 14, "And my tongue will sing,"
Some people go to church and they don't sing because they haven't got anything to sing about because they're living in sin, they need to repent of their sins, they'll have the joy of the Lord, then they'll really sing the songs, they'll know what it means to sing the song "Redeemed." But the way a lot of people in church sing it, "Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it," they're not redeemed and so they can't really sing the song. But when we are forgiven and we know that he has cleansed us from our sins, "Then my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness, O Lord, my lips, my mouth shall show forth your praises." We will have joy, we will have song, we will have praise, Repentance is a heavy subject but it leads to a joyful life.
When we talk about repentance you don't hear a lot of sermons on this and I don't know why because the Bible really begins with repentance, New Testament in particular. You look in Matthew chapter 3, verse 1, "In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea," first thing John the Baptist says, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Notice, repentance is commanded, he said, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Not only John the Baptist but Jesus when he began preaching. Matthew chapter 4, verse 17, "From that time Jesus began to preach," saying the exact same words, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Now if the kingdom of heaven was at hand 2,000 years ago is the kingdom of heaven at hand now? Absolutely, that means eternal life is within your reach but it begins with repentance and that happens after we see the goodness of God. Acts chapter 17, verse 30: "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked," he winked at, "But now he commands all men and women everywhere to repent."
One of the most dangerous things is for people to not understand the true state before the Lord and so many Christians are content to go through the religious motions and they really don't have the new heart, but that's going to begin by repenting. Jesus said, "I command you therefore to repent," so repentance is not only a command, repentance is a calling. Luke chapter 5, verse 32, Jesus said, "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."
Why did Jesus come? "I've come to call sinners." Now if people think they're already righteous they're not going to listen, like the scribes and Pharisees and many Christians today that are lukewarm, we don't have a real knowledge of ourselves. When Nicodemus came to Jesus he was a teacher in Israel, everybody would want him to be on their church staff, to be an elder in their church, good man, a moral man, a generous man, but Jesus said to him, "You need to be born again." He represents so many people that go through the motions of Christianity but they're not born again, and Christ said, "I'm calling us to repentance, sorrow for our sins."
Repentance is not only your calling, it is a condition to salvation, it's something that must happen. You look in Luke chapter 13, Jesus is very clear, he said, "I tell you, no, but unless you repent you will all likewise perish." He said all, he means all, everybody needs to repent or they're going to perish, so repentance is a condition to salvation. 2 Peter 3, verse 9: "God is not willing that any should perish but that we should all come to repentance," he wants us to be saved, the Lord is calling us to this experience of being sorry for our sins and then turning.
And you can read in Acts chapter 2, verse 37, Peter preaches there at Pentecost and after he, see, what he does is he shows people the Lord. He shows people the goodness of God, they see what they've done to their savior, they're overwhelmed with conviction, the Bible says, "Their hearts were pricked," and they say, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" And he said, "Repent, therefore, every one of you and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sin," baptism is something that follows a repentance and a forsaking of sin, "And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
Now to have the new heart you need to be Spirit-filled, what comes before that? A repentance for sin, that's why David said, "Take not your Holy Spirit from me," what happens before that? He's repenting. So friends, it's a condition, not only that we don't perish but in order to be Spirit-filled we must be cleansed from our sin, God cannot cleanse us from our sin until we acknowledge our sin before him and repent of it.
So first comes repentance then comes the Holy Spirit. Something else about repentance, point number four, repentance is a conviction. Romans 2, verse 4: "Or do you despise the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long-suffering, not knowing it is the goodness of God that leads you to repentance?"
The more time, we spend with Jesus, and how do you do that? Well you do it in his Word as you look at His life, you do it in prayer as you commune with Him, He speaks to you through His Word. And the more time you spend with him, the more you'll be transformed into his image, and you'll find that repentance is not something that will just happen once. It may happen in a big way when you first come to the Lord, but many times, as we said during our question time, you'll have to die daily. And whenever you do sin, don't get discouraged if you fall again, you repent of that, pick yourself back up and you continue on with the Lord.
So it is a condition to our salvation and repentance brings conviction. Acts chapter 5, verse 31, the Bible tells us there, "Him, God has exalted to his right hand to be a Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sin." God will never ask you to do something without making it available, and the Lord, through the Holy Spirit, he will give you this conviction as a gift. The Holy Spirit comes to comfort, he also comes to convict, and it was the Holy Spirit that brought conviction to the people when they said, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" And you read also, in Acts 11, verse 18: "And they glorified God, saying, 'Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.'"
If you want everlasting life, there needs to be repentance that will precede that, and that comes through the Holy Spirit as a gift. "So, Pastor Doug, you're wanting us to feel bad about our sins?" Well, that's what God says, yes, you do not want to feel good about doing bad. You know, people say, "I can't quit sinning," Oh yes, you can, you just need to be motivated enough, all things are possible with God; God is never going to ask you to do something you cannot do. So much has been said about grace and people don't say enough about victory, we underestimate the power of God, and simply exercising the power of the will to give your heart to the Lord.
My grandfather, he smoked for 50 years, and he smoked the industrial strength cigarettes called "Lucky Strikes." And he tried and tried, he couldn't quit, he used to drive my grandmother crazy. He went to the hospital for a minor stomach problem and he was in a bed next to another man, and the man in the bed next to him had had his voice box removed from cancer from smoking, and my grandfather said he saw the man in the bed next to him smoking a cigarette through the hole in his throat, and the smoke coming out of this new hole that was made in his throat. My grandfather said that was all it took, he threw away his cigarettes, he never smoked again, and he lived to 93.
So it's amazing what you can do if you really want to; through love for God, which is the best motive, and the avoidance of eternal destruction and if you really believe.
You know, a person says, "You know I really believe, I believe." Well, if you believe then you're going to make a change, repentance is a choice. Acts 3:19: "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins might be blotted out," repentance is a criteria to our sins being blotted out, "When the times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord." A sign was in front of a Baptist Church, it said, "Repent now and avoid the rush."
Everybody's going to repent when Jesus comes but it'll be too late then, now is the time to repent and be filled with the Holy Spirit and saved. Mark 1:15: Jesus said, "The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand, repent, and believe the gospel."
See, repentance is something you can choose to do, God gives His Spirit to us to enable us but you must make a choice, He will not force you. Just like you choose to believe the gospel, He's saying, "Repent and believe," they go together.
If you say, "Brother Doug, I believe the gospel," but you don't do anything about turning from your sin, you wonder how much you believe. If I tell you right now lightning is going to strike right where you're standing in 15 seconds, say, "I believe you, Pastor Doug," and you don't move, you don't believe me. If you really believe the lightning is going to strike where you're sitting or standing in 15 seconds, you're going to relocate, you'll do something about it. If you believe the gospel, the good news, you're going to want to do something about it then.
A.W. Tozer made an interesting statement on this point, he said, "We must have our own free will repent towards God and believe Jesus Christ." The Bible plainly teaches this. This experience abundantly is supported. Repentance involves moral reformation, the wrong practices are on man's part and only man can correct them. Lying, for instance, is an act of man, and one which he must accept full responsibility for. When he repents, he will quit lying. God will not quit for him, he will quit for himself, God cannot do our repenting for us. It is our efforts, our desire, our choice to magnify grace.
So we have preached to convey the truth of the impression that repentance, many have preached to convey the impression repentance is an act or a work of God. This is a grave mistake, and the one is taking a frightful toll among Christians everywhere; that you don't have to do anything. Yes, you do, this is why it says, "Repent and bring forth fruits meet for repentance." And repentance is contrition. What I mean by that is repentance is sorrow for sin because it's a heart issue, we realize that we have hurt the Lord, He loved us so much He gave His son, Jesus suffered and died, that ought to move our hearts.
It's like that publican who went to the temple, he doesn't pray like the Pharisee, thanking God for His goodness, he's lukewarm. The publican, he smites on his breast, and he says, "Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner." Peter, when he saw Jesus being beaten, and he denies Christ with swearing and cursing, Peter goes out and he weeps bitterly. Martin Luther said, "God creates from nothing, so until we become nothing he can do nothing with us." We need to humble ourselves, take up our cross, and He will make you a new creature. I invite you, friends, to do what Jesus and John the Baptist said, "Repent, and believe."