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)
Sorrow is not repentance. Nor is sorrow equivalent to salvation. “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Cor. 7:10). Judas was remorseful upon seeing Jesus condemned as a result of his betrayal. Instead of turning back to God, his despair led him to suicide. Clearly, his sorrow did not save him. The Lord is ready to forgive every soul (including you) whose sorrow over sin leads them to repent and follow Him. For the soul who is not a Christian, godly sorrow for sin leads to repenting and being baptized to be saved (Acts 2:37-38). For the disciple of Christ who falls into sin, godly sorrow produces repentance and prayer (Acts 8:20-24; 1 Jno. 1:9). The path out of sin’s sorrow is not despair and death; it is forgiveness through godly sorrow and repentance.
4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God (Romans 2:4–5, NKJV)
God is the Giver of good gifts (Jas. 1:17). But one’s heart must be open to seeing and appreciating His gifts. When sin hardens the heart its eyes are closed to seeing God’s goodness, forbearance and longsuffering, much less allowing these good things to stimulate repentance. Instead of laying up treasures in heaven, this hard, unthankful and unholy heart lays up treasures that will be repaid with wrath in the day of God’s righteous judgment. There will be no satisfaction on the day of judgment that “I did it my way,” when “your way” results in your eternal death. Today is the day to soften your heart toward God and be thankful for the many good gifts He gives you. Let these lead you to repentance so you can live in His blessings instead of being under His brooding wrath. May we never look with disgust upon the rich blessings of God.
21 “And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.” (Luke 15:21–24, NKJV)
God’s mercy and joy over one sinner who repents is on clear display in the parable of the prodigal son. What is equally observed is the wasteful son’s repentance that prompted him to return to his father and humbly confess his sins. God is ready to show mercy and forgive every sin; of that there is no doubt. When we sin against God, the probing question is whether we will recognize our terrible spiritual condition, humble ourselves before God and repent (Lk. 15:14-19). We must take personal responsibility for our sins. We cannot blame our sins on others. When personal accountability for our sin is coupled with godly sorrow, we can move forward to repent and receive the merciful forgiveness of God (2 Cor. 7:10).
The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here. (Luke 11:32, NKJV)
God warned Nineveh through the preaching of Jonah, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:4) Jesus validates Jonah and his work, as well as the repentance of Nineveh. He said “they repented at the preaching of Jonah”. This incident teaches us what the Son of God regards as genuine repentance. The people of Nineveh “believed God” when they heard God’s word and proclaimed a fast, indicative of contrite hearts over their sins (Jonah 3:5). Their king led them in acts of remorse over their sins, commanding them to “cry mightily to God” and to “let everyone turn from his evil”, thereby appealing to God’s mercy to relent and spare the city (Jonah 3:6-9). “Then God saw their works, that they turned form their evil way; and God relented…” (Jonah 3:10). Repenting of sin is not reporting one’s sin. Repentance is an action of faith, produced by godly sorrow. It is the change of heart that leads one to change his or her life conform to the will of God. The pertinent question is, will you repent at the preaching of the apostles and prophets of Jesus? If you will not repent, wrath is certain (Rom. 2:5). If you will repent, forgiveness is given (Acts 2:38). Will you be condemned by the men of Nineveh in the judgment, or will you stand with them?
1 There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1–3, NKJV)
It is false to conclude that a horrific death of suffering signifies that person was particularly evil. The Galileans murdered by Pilate were no worse sinners than others. Death comes to us all, and sometimes, in very tragic ways. A worse fate awaits every sinner who refuses to repent. Do not fall into the trap of comparing yourself with others and comforting yourself in their suffering. All of us have sinned, and unless we repent we face a fate worse than physical suffering. Jesus described hell as a place where “their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mk. 9:47-48). Only with a change of heart (repentance) are we equipped to serve Christ. Without repentance, we perish.
30 And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34 Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household. (Acts 16:30-34)
Too many people stop at verse 31 when telling the lost how to be saved. Clearly, one must “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” to be saved. But since “even demons believe–and tremble”, there must be something more to believing than mental assent (James 2:19). Verse 34 says the jailer and his house “rejoiced, having believed in God”. So, how to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” is found in verses 32-33. Faith was produced by hearing the word of God (v. 32; Romans 10:17). Repentance is implied in the washing of the stripes that were faithlessly applied and ignored (vss. 33, 23). With believing repentance they were immediately baptized (v. 33). After hearing, believing, repenting and being baptized came the rejoicing of salvation; now they “believed in God” (v. 34).
9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:9-10)
Being sorry for sin and repenting of sin are two different things. This passage not only distinguishes between sorrow and repentance (which is a change of heart), it also identifies two types of sorrow. Sorrow for sin that is directed toward God produces repentance, while the sorrow of the world produces death. You may be sorry you got caught in your sin. You may be sorry for the effects your sin had on others. But only when you sorrow because you have sinned against God will you be driven to repent – change your heart – leading to salvation. Judas was remorseful over the outcome of his betrayal of Jesus. He even admitted his sin. But Judas did not have godly sorrow. He killed himself instead of repenting of his sin (Matt. 27:3-5). If you are struggling with sin you need to be sorry “in a godly manner”. This type of sorrow toward God will generate the decision of faith to “repent, turn to God and do works befitting repentance” (Acts 26:20).
24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:24–26)
One ought not engage in raucous quarrels when attempting to teach the truth. Angry agitation is sinful and consequently, it does not produce a righteous outcome (Col. 3:8; Jas. 1:19-20). But, gentleness does not mean weakness. Nor does it mean one cannot “reprove” and “rebuke” as well as “exhort” when trying to persuade the lost (2 Tim. 4:2). The truth of the gospel corrects error, but only if we will use it to point out sin and its remedy. Repentance is needed where there is error, for error opposes the truth of God. Teaching the truth to those who are lost is not an “either, or” proposition; either be gentle and do not confront their error, or expose their error and thereby fail to be gentle. Without quarreling, the Lord’s servant must teach the truth plainly so that lost souls can “know the truth…come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil”.
30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead. (Acts 17:30–31)
God is longsuffering and just. His character demands that He righteously judge and punish sin – God does not ignore sin. His character compels Him to offer merciful forgiveness by commanding all sinners everywhere to repent and thereby escape His wrath against sinners. So, rather than immediately intercede with punishment against sin, God commands repentance while assuring us there will be a day of judgment, and the Man God raised from the dead will be that judge; Jesus. If you want to escape divine punishment for your sins then you must obey God and repent. Do it now. One day God’s longsuffering will end and His judgment will begin (2 Pet. 3:9-10).