14 Reasons to Repent
October 13, 2019 | Randy Smith
14 Reasons To Repent
Luke 13:3, 5
Sunday, October 13, 2019
Pastor Randy Smith
Last Sunday we covered one of the most definitive passages in the entire Bible on the need to repent. Twice Jesus said, “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:3, 5).
Often, I receive the question: “What do I say to someone who is not convinced on the mandate to repent?” I have had churchgoers argue with me that repentance is unnecessary. And if we are honest with ourselves, the failure to break with our own sin proves all of us (to some degree) do not value the need to repent.
So, I thought we should do a “part 2” from last week’s sermon. My aim is to present the definitive sermon on why all people should take repentance seriously. That is the one and only point I am seeking to make. This sermon is appropriately entitled, “14 Reasons to Repent.”
1. It's The Gospel
First and foremost, repentance is a necessary component of the gospel. John MacArthur said, “The gospel according to Jesus is as much a call to forsake sin as it is a summons to faith. From His first message to His last, the Savior's theme was calling sinners to repentance” (The Gospel According to Jesus, pg. 161-162.)
In order for salvation to be effective, individuals must see themselves as sinners who have fallen short of God's glory. They must entrust themselves to the One who "did not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mk. 2:17). They must emulate the spiritually bankrupt Tax Collector who beat on his breast and cried, "Be merciful to me, the sinner" (Lk. 18:13). Then, after acknowledging their guilt before a holy God, they are to commit to a life that seeks to turn from sin and pursue holiness. Apart from repentance, there is no salvation.
Listen to some of the gospel commands from the book of Acts. Acts 2:38, "Peter said to them, 'Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'" Acts 3:19, "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." Acts 8:22, "Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you." Acts 17:30, "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent." Acts 26:20, "(Paul) kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance."
Could our two verses from Luke 13 have been any clearer? "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish" (Lk. 13:3, 5). Or how about John 3:36, "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." Repentance through a heart of obedience is the gospel.
2. Christ Suffered For Your Sins
A second reason we should forsake our sins is because Christ suffered for them.
The next time your heart is indifferent toward sin, think for a moment of what sin cost your Savior on the cross. Think about His lacerated back ripped open to the bone from the Roman scourge. Think how He suffered for a breath of air as He extended His bloody body up the vertical beam of the rugged cross. Think about the splinters that dug deeper into His freshly cut wounds with every movement. Think about the large spikes that pierced His hands and His feet penetrating deeply into nerve endings. Think of the slow suffocation as Jesus hung there in the nude, mocked by the onlookers.
Jesus didn't die for His own sin; He died for ours. "[He was] pierced through for our transgressions… [He was] crushed for our iniquities" (Isa. 53:5). And after realizing the magnitude of suffering that our sin cost Jesus, how can we be apathetic and indifferent toward sin? How can cherish and love our sin? How can we be entertained by something that put our Savior on the cross?
Maybe you think sin is not serious. Maybe you think you can pick and choose which sins you desire to forsake or when you choose to forsake them. Well, you tell that to Jesus when you stand before His throne and see the Savior face-to-face for the first time and gaze upon His nail-scared hands. Does the love of Christ compel you to turn from that which brought Him unspeakable anguish?
3. God Commands Us To Be Holy
A third reason to pursue repentance is that God commands us to be holy.
What is the greatest goal for your life? A raise? A spouse? Children? Retirement? Bigger home? More free time? A recreational vehicle? Think about it? What is the greatest goal for your life? Maybe I should phrase it like this: What is God's greatest goal for your life? Naturally, as a redeemed child of God, your greatest goal should be in conjunction with your Creator's greatest goal for your life. What is His goal? In Romans 8:29 we read, "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren." What is God's greatest goal for you? Christlikeness, godliness, holiness. Therefore, what should be your greatest goal? Christlikeness, godliness, holiness. Is it?
2 Corinthians 7:1, "Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (c.f. 1 Pet. 1:15-16). 1 John 2:6 says, "The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” Even Jesus Himself logically stated, "Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say" (Lk. 6:46)?
The command is to be holy. Without repentance there is no holiness.
4. God Hates Sin
A fourth reason to turn from our sin is because God hates sin.
God demonstrated His intense hatred for sin in the wrath that He poured out on Jesus at Calvary. Habakkuk 1:13 declares, "Your eyes are too pure to approve evil." Colossians 3:6 states "that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience [because of their sin.]" The cross shows God’s love, but it also shows His hatred toward sin.
Why would we wish to see our sin provoke the anger of God? Why would we ever wish to grieve our heavenly Father? Why would we ever want to see our sin cause a breach in our spiritual relationship? Isaiah 59:2, "But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear" (c.f. Psm 66:18; 1 Pet. 3:7).
What does God want? What strengthens our intimate relationship with Him? It's not more sin! Rather it's a life that forsakes sin and pursues righteousness! "But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word" (Isa. 66:2). "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Mt. 5:8). If God is your greatest love, how can you not repent? How can you not forsake something that He hates?
5. Obedience Is Love For God
A fifth reason to pursue righteousness is based upon the inseparability between our obedience and our love for God.
When asked, most people, regardless of their religious preference and church affiliation will say that they love God. Loving God is natural because there is much about Him to love. Loving God is also required, since the Greatest Commandment is to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Mt. 22:37). Unfortunately, most who claim to love God base their love merely on an emotion. When these individuals are asked how one is to practically love God, a multitude of answers are often provided.
Biblically speaking, only one answer is acceptable; obedience! We demonstrate our love for God by our willingness to obey Him. Jesus clearly said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" (Jn. 14:15; c.f. Dt. 7:9; Jn. 14:21; 15:10; 1 Jn. 5:3). It's very simple. Do you love God? Then obey Him through repentance! If you love God, you will "Go [and]…sin no more" (Jn. 8:11) as He commanded.
6. Our Sin Affects Others
Up to this point we have focused on how our sin brings negative effects to ourselves. For point #6, let's examine how our sin brings negative effects to others, often others we love the most.
Have you ever considered how others are affected by your sin, by your complaining, gossip, anger, bitterness, selfishness, pride, etc.? Have you ever considered how your sin sets a negative example for a church or a family?
On the contrary, does your repentance motivate others to pursue their greatest goal of holiness? Can you echo with Paul, "Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1)? The aged apostle, John, a spiritual shepherd to many said, "I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth" (3 Jn. 4). D. L. Moody once said, "A holy life will make the deepest impression. Lighthouses blow no horns; they just shine." God wants His children to be more holy. Let me ask you, if people follow your example, are you helping or hindering God's goal?
7. Work Of The Holy Spirit
A seventh reason to pursue repentance is to give evidence of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.
All believers "in Christ" are indwelt with the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation. As it is hinted in His name, the role of the Holy Spirit is to make us holy. He accomplishes this by convicting us of sin, illuminating the Scriptures and empowering us to righteous behavior. He leaves His fingerprints on our life through the production of spiritual fruit, the fruit of righteousness (Gal. 5:22-23).
Now think about this. When we are indifferent toward repenting from sin or demonstrate no holiness or give no evidence of spiritual fruit, but still claim Christ, what does that say about the Holy Spirit? Simple, He's impotent. He's unable to overcome sin and give you a desire for God. He's unable to do what the Word claims is His responsibility. How that attitude must "grieve the Holy Spirit" (Eph. 4:30).
According to His Word, God has provided His children with everything they need to overcome sin and pursue godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). C.H. Spurgeon once said, "All the 'cannots' in the Bible about spiritual inability are tantamount to 'will nots.' When you say, 'I cannot repent,' you mean, 'I will not.'" To say, "I cannot repent" is theologically equivalent to saying, "I do not have the Holy Spirit," which is theologically equivalent to saying, "I am not a Christian."
8. Need For Assurance
Number 8 is an overflow from number 7. A righteous life committed to repentance is the only sure evidence of our salvation.
2 Peter 1:10 states, "Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble." Assurance of our salvation is not based on a prayer we made with our grandmother when we were 6. We all know that "faith without works is dead" (Jas. 2:26). Rather, personal assurance is achieved when the Holy Spirit gives evidence of His presence. It is only when we pursue holiness and bear spiritual fruit that we see ourselves different than the world. And when we witness these God-effected changes in our life, "the Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God" (Rom. 8:16).
On the other hand, the Scriptures offer no heavenly assurance for the one who continues in willful sin. On the contrary, it assures us of just the opposite. "For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries" (Heb. 10:26-27; c.f. 2 Pet. 2:20).
A child of God is defined by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit produces the fruit of repentance. His presence and our assurance are marked by repentance.
9. Delight In God
A ninth reason we are to flee from sin is because we are called to delight in God.
Psalm 1:2, "But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night." Psalm 40:8, "I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart." 1 John 5:3, "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome." These beautiful verses and a life that harbors unrepentant sin is diametrically opposed. It's very straightforward; failure to repent simply displays a heart greater in love with its sin than in love with its Savior.
10. Desire To Be Used By God
The tenth reason to pursue a life of holiness is a desire to be used by God
We all want to have purpose, meaning and joy in our life. All three of these come together when we observe God using us to accomplish His eternal purposes. What can be more rewarding and more honoring than that? What can be more purposeful, meaningful and joyful than to know that God is using us?
"Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work" (2 Tim. 2:20-21).
Even among His children, God uses those who have their minds fixed upon Him and are presently walking in the Spirit. It was Robert Murray McCheyne who said, "It is not great talents God blesses so much as likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God."
What if you went to a friend's house one day and wanted a glass of water. You go into the kitchen and see all across the counter numerous glasses. As you look closer, you see that everyone is dirty-lipstick, old cocoa, mold, food, etc. Yet you see one that is sparkling clean. What would you use to drink out of?
11. Subject To Discipline
An eleventh reason to put away sin is to avoid the discipline of the Lord.
If you are in Christ Jesus, God loves you too much to let you stray off into dangerous pastures. The Good Shepherd will do whatever it takes to bring you back to the safety of the sheepfold.
"You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, 'my son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by him; for those whom the Lord loves he disciplines, and he scourges every son whom he receives.' It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness" (Heb. 12:4-11).
The thought of God's discipline is not pleasant. It's even a more unpleasant thought to continue in sin and never receive His discipline because you are not His child. That's frightening!
12. Personal Consequences
A twelve reason to forsake sin is to avoid personal consequences.
You don't need much biblical intuitiveness to recall the disobedience of Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10:1) and Achan (Jos. 7:25) and Hophni and Phinehas (1 Sam. 2:34) and Ananias and Sapphira (Ac. 5:5, 10) and Herod (Ac. 12:23). These and countless others lost their lives as a direct result of their disobedience against God. Continually in the Old Testament we read about blessings for obedience and consequences or chastisement for disobedience. The proverb states, "Can a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned" (Pr. 6:27). Or the New Testament proverb, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap" (Gal. 6:7). If we choose to sow sin, we will always reap consequences.
Even our own testimony reveals that nothing good has ever been achieved through our sin. Sin like a deadly serpent, if you play with it, you will get stung. Sin is the number one culprit to destroy marriages and churches. Often, not always, those with the most interpersonal problems have the most sin. Sin sears our conscience. It hardens our heart. It steals our joy. And leaves in its deceptive wake a lifetime of regret and consequences.
13. Current And Future Blessings
A thirteenth reason to live a righteous life is for current and future blessings.
The Bible is clear: pursue sin and deal with the consequences; but on the positive side pursue righteousness and deal with the blessings. Is that a difficult decision to make?
The current blessing is mentioned in 1 Peter 3. "Not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For, 'the one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. He must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and his ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil" (1 Pet. 3:9-12). When we obey the Lord, He blesses us here and now with joy, peace and the assurance that we are walking in His will.
Repentance also leads to future blessing or rewards as well. "Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (2 Cor. 5:9-10; c.f. 1 Cor. 3:12-15). Eternal rewards are based upon our righteous actions done in God's strength for His glory. Moreover, which one of us who truly loves God does not long to hear Him say upon our entrance into heaven, "Well done (My) good and faithful (servant)" (Mt. 25:21)?
14. God's Glory
Finally, the fourteenth reason we are to repent of sin is for the sake of God's glory.
As you know, we were both created and redeemed for God's glory. We glorify God by forsaking our love for self and sin and pursuing Him as the greatest source of contentment and satisfaction. When we commit ourselves to a life of righteousness, we are upholding His transforming power, wonderful promises and magnificent character as our most desired treasures. To all who observe our conduct, we shine as a trophy of His remarkable and unfathomable grace.
People and angels are both taunting God and praising God based upon the conduct of His children. Matthew 5:16 admonishes us to "let [our] light shine before men in such a way that they may see [our] good works, and glorify [our] Father who is in heaven" (c.f. 1 Pet. 2:12).
Now please understand, I am not saying that we must claim to be without sin (1 Jn. 1:8, 10). I am not saying that God isn't willing to forgive His children. And I am not saying that complete repentance always happens overnight.
What I am saying is that we must humbly acknowledge and despise sin in our life. What I am saying is that we must make every effort to strive for holiness. What I am saying is that Christlikeness should be our greatest goal and therefore repentance by God’s grace is to be pursued.