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In 2005, I wrote blog post on repentance. I thought it is worth reposting as a reminder of what it actually means to repent.

Heb. 6:1 (KJV) Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works,

The literal definition of the word repent is “to perceive afterwards.” I may have developed a sinful habit before I came to Christ. The opportunity to repent came once I understood that the habit was sinful. If, however, I commit that act again, now knowing that it is wrong, there is no further opportunity for repentance, for I knew that it was wrong before I committed the act. At that point, I must ask for forgiveness. Consider the author’s statement: “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” The process of renewing is not repetitive. The need is not for the Lord to have to renew us again and again; the need is for us to live a renewed life once He has touched us. Each time I knowingly transgress, I make His crucifixion of no effect. So, then, I must ask a question each time I must choose between satisfying God or satisfying myself: Which is more important – to satisfy myself, or to prevent Christ from being put to an open shame? The key to living a Spirit-filled life lies in the answer to this question.

good samaritanRom. 2:Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

This is a hard truth – it isn’t the threat of the wrath of God that leads to repentance; rather, it is God’s kindness that is intended to lead us to repentance.  Now, the war begins.  Many were taught to believe that people must be made aware of how sinful they are before they can accept Christ.  They were taught that it is fear that leads others to repentance, not kindness.  Some believe that a person can’t even receive the good news unless they first hear the bad news.  Shall we believe the traditions and teachings of man, or of God?  Consider the parable of the good Samaritan:

Luke 10:29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

Notice that when the Samaritan saw the man, Christ said the Samaritan had compassion.  Imagine if the person lying on the road was you, and the Samaritan came by and saw you.  Would you prefer the Samaritan approach you with compassion, or by first telling you that you deserve to die, but he is instead going to help you?  It wasn’t necessary to inform the injured man that he was half dead.  What was necessary was to show him mercy.  Does this mean that we are to never mention sin to a person when we are ministering the gospel?  The rule we are to follow as saints is to yield to the Spirit of God.  We are not to speak our own words; rather, we are to speak the words that the Spirit gives us.  Those are the words that will bring healing to the hearer.   We must speak words of life if we desire to see the life of God in others.