3 Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!” 5 Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself. (Matthew 27:3–5, NKJV)
Judas did several things that often pass for repentance today. Each one falls short of “repentance from dead works” that is an elementary principle of Christ and must not be confused with genuine repentance (Heb. 6:1). 1) Remorse is not repentance. Judas regretted that Jesus had been condemned. Regretting the outcome of our sin is not repentance (2 Cor. 7:10). Regretting unforeseen consequences caused by our sin does not mean we have changed our minds toward our sin. 2) Recompense is not repentance. Judas expressed his regret by returning the silver. Maybe he thought that would change the situation. Of course, it did not. We should, to the best of our ability, correct sinful wrongs we have committed. Repayment may salve the conscience but never address the intent and motives that led to sin in the first place. Repentance will do that (2 Cor. 7:11). 3) Reporting is not repentance. We can say, “I have sinned,” yet fail to have a contrite heart that changes before God and others (like Peter, whose bitter weeping led him to change his heart and life, Matt. 26:75). 4) Reciprocity is not repentance. Judas’ suicide was an act of despair. Repentance moves forward with faith and hope in Christ (1 Tim. 1:12-16).