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How to tell if someone is truly repentant

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How to tell if someone is truly repentant:

Seven Identifying Marks of the truly repentant

2 Cor. 7:8-12

Intro:

Do Christians need to repent? Jesus said that we do (Luke 17:3–4), and Paul agreed with Him (2 Cor. 12:21). Four of the seven churches of Asia Minor, listed in Revelation 2–3, were commanded to repent. To repent simply means “to change one’s mind,” and disobedient Christians need to repent, not in order to be saved, but in order to restore their close fellowship with God. (Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. (2 Co 7:2). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.)

But another question is, “How do you tell if someone is truly repentant?” In Matt. 18 Jesus tells us to forgive seven times seventy when the offender repents. Most of us will read that and think the offender has not really repented. So what do we look for in ourselves and in others regarding the marks of true repentance?

However, before we can get to those marks we have to address some preliminary issues.

First of all, we need to have an understanding of the word repent in our passage. Paul uses two different words that are here translated repent by the KJV.

metamelomai - regret, really means to repent, on the part of man, means little or nothing more than a selfish dread of the consequence of what one has done

metanoew - to change one's mind, not referring to being sorry at all.it means regret and forsaking the evil by a change of heart brought about by God’s Spirit.

Thus, when Paul says that he does not repent for writing the letter he sent by Titus to them he is using the word metamelomai. He states he did not repent or change his mind for the letter, though it grieved them at that time. Instead, he is rejoicing because of what their repentance produced in them.

Secondly, we notice that godly sorrow has led them to repent/metanoew of their sin. v.9

The greek word lupe means grief or sorrow. It is the idea of making sad, like the rich man who after Jesus tells him what he must do to inherit eternal life by selling all of his possessions goes away sorrowing, Mark 10:22. Or grief over the death of a loved one, 1 Thess. 4:13 or trials in 1 Peter 1:6.

Thus, it speaks of a sadness over ones own sin that leads them to a change in mind/repentance. The grief itself is not repentance, but it is the precursor of it.

The prodigal son of Luke 15 is an example of grief/sorrow for sin that leads to repentance.

He came to himself, realized he had sinned against heaven and his father, and changed his mind about his life and dad and decided to go home and ask for mercy.

Third, note that their sorrow led them to see that Paul was not out to injure them by his letter of confrontation to them. Rather, the truly repentent see that you were out to help them not hurt them.

Fourth, we need to understand the difference between godly sorrow that leads to repentance and worldly sorrow that leads to regret, v.10

Grief from God/according to God's standard leads /works to repentance from sin unto salvation without regret. But the grief from the world works death.

            1. Godly grief leads to repentance/a change of mind and life in a person that leads to salvation for that person. It produces reformation in the heart of the repentant person. Worldly grief does not produce salvation or reformation, just regret for being caught.

cf. 2 Sam. 12:13 -David repents after being confronted by Nathan the prophet.

            2. Godly grief differs from worldly grief in what causes the grief, Godly grief is caused by recognizing that one’s sin has injured God and others. Worldly grief is caused by the loss or denial of something we want for ourselves. It is self-centered. It laments such worldly things as failing to receive the recognition one thinks one deserves, not having as much money as one wants, not getting something one covets. (Garland, D. E. (2001, c1999). Vol. 29: 2 Corinthians (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (355). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers)

An example of worldly grief - Rev. 18:9-13 the kings grieved over the loss of their ability to sell their cargo.

John Newton is an example of Godly grief a converted slave trader who penned the word to "Amazing Grace".

            3. Godly grief differs from Worldly grief in its its results. The selfishness of worldly grief gives rise only to despair, bitterness, and paralysis. It causes our souls to drown in self pity or turns the sorrow into a cankerous sore. But godly grief does lead to repentance and hope. (Garland, D. E. (2001, c1999). Vol. 29: 2 Corinthians (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (355). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers. )

A worldly sorrow is not really sorrow at all in one sense but it is not sorrow for its sin or for the hurt it may have caused others; it is only resentment that it has been found out. If it got the chance to do the same thing again and thought it could escape the consequences, it would do it.

4978 Murderer’s Planned Revenge

 If there is no repentance, there can be no pardon. Some years ago a murderer was sentenced to death. The murderer’s brother, to whom the State was deeply indebted for former services, besought the governor of the State for his brother’s pardon. The pardon was granted, and the man visited his brother with the pardon in his pocket. “What would you do,” he said to him, “if you received a pardon?”

 “The first thing I would do,” he answered, “is to track down the judge who sentenced me, and murder him; and the next thing I would do is to track down the chief witness, and murder him.”

 The brother rose, and left the prison with the pardon in his pocket.

On the other hand, a godly sorrow is a sorrow which has come to see the wrongness of the thing it did. It is not just the consequences of the thing it regrets; it hates the thing itself. We must be very careful that our sorrow for sin is not merely sorrow that we have been found out, but sorrow which, seeing the evil of the sinful thing is determined never to do it again and has dedicated the rest of its life to atone, by God’s grace, for what it has done. (The letters to the Corinthians. 2000, c1975 (W. Barclay, lecturer in the University of Glasgow, Ed.). The Daily study Bible series, Rev. ed. (227). Philadelphia: The Westminster Press. )

Judas is an example of one who repented (according to the world), he was full of regret, but not true repentence, instead he killed himself. So also is Esau an example, he shed tears but produced no godly change in life. A good example- the prodigal son, Luke 15.

Now that we understand that repentance implies remorse for sins that wound and anger God and the desire to make amends and to desist from sinning again we are ready to look at the identifying marks of one who is truly repentant.

Seven identifying marks of the truly repentant, v.11

These were ways in which their repentance was demonstrated. Godly sorrow, true repentance always produces corresponding deeds.

Behold, this very thing, the being made to be sorry according to God works out:

A. An earnestness to make amends,

The word in the KJV is carefulness. It means to take much diligence/earnest care, fervency, it refers to a haste or urgency at making amends in this case. Thus, the truly repentant are concerned to deal with their sin as soon as possible. There is no hesitancy to deal with it. No excuses of inconvenience, like “I need to think about it.” or “I’ll deal with it later.” No, this person wants to deal with it now.

Like David, when confronted with his sin, he repented right then and started the process immediately.

B. An eagerness to vindicate themselves.

what clearing of yourselves, it is the word apologian from which we get our word apology or apologetics, which simply means to defend. The idea is that this person wants to clear his name, not expunge his guilt, but restore his reputation, rebuild his trust.

4962 When Al Johnson Confessed

 At nineteen, Al Johnson had joined two other men in robbing a Kansas bank. The case was closed by police after two other convicts were killed in an auto crash and mistakenly identified by bank officials as the robbers. Al felt sure he would never be caught.

 He married a Christian girl and pretended to be a Christian before her. She knew nothing of his past crime. Then someone sent him a tract in the mail, titled “God’s Plan of Salvation.” Reading it, he noticed that one of the Bible verses said, “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

 The realization struck that salvation was for him. He could be forgiven and his conscience set free. He knelt in prayer and accepted Christ.

 His life changed. He stopped a lifelong habit of lying. And after much thought and prayer he confessed his crime. His confession made television newscasts and newspaper headlines even in Canada.

 Under a Kansas statute of limitations, he was set free, although he chose to repay his share of the stolen funds to the bank. Today, Al Johnson is the manager of a service station, the father of three admiring children, and an outstanding Christian layman.

C. Indignation-against the offender?

In this case it would probably be that they were rightly angry with Paul’s opponents, 2 Cor. 2:5-11, who had been attacking Paul. In other words it is anger with ones sin. There is the idea of hating one’s sin. We must learn to hate it, because of its offense to God; of its destructiveness to our relationships with our loved ones and friends; of its destructiveness to our selves. Like drug abuse like meth users. It destroys one’s life. Learn to hate your sin.

D. Alarm at your own tendency to sin and its effects

fear/phobos-after realizing what had happened.

In other words, there is a fear of injury to others. It is like this, I don’t want to fall into immorality because of what it would do to my family. My wife, children, and grandchildren would be devastated. Their respect for me would evaporate. My brothers and other family members and friends who are unbelievers who know I have been a Christian for over two decades would call my christianity a shame. And would probably use my sin as an excuse to not become a believer.

Thus, my fear of failure in sin is a good thing because it keeps me living right, just as the fear of falling over a cliff keeps me away from the edge of it or the way the fear of crashing headon into another car keeps me driving in my lane.

E. A longing and concern to restore the relationship broken by your sin.

what vehement desire

The Corinthians longed to have their relationship with Paul restored. That is what comforted Paul. He wanted it restored too. So one who is truly repentant will do whatever it takes to restore their broken relationship.

A husband or wife who has sinned against their spouse will give themselves over to full disclosure of thier sin, as well as agree to counseling to get help to assure it doesn’t happen again. They will be willing to have a close and tight accountability of use of money or time, of disclosing their whereabouts at any time. It is when they refuse to do these sorts of things that I question whether they are truly repentant.

It speaks of a willingness to do whatever is required to restore the relationship.

F. Zealous effort to ensure that it doesn’t happen again,

zeal-It seems to me this refers to their earnest effort and diligence in getting their sin dealt with and putting forth a great deal of effort to not have it happen again.

G. A readiness to see justice done

vengeance- to do justice, avenge, desire to see justice done in their discipline of the offender? In other words the person who is truly repentant wants justice in his own life done. In this case it may refer to the discipline of the offender, but in one’s personal situation, restitution would be desired.

I am reminded of a man named John who wrote me telling me of how God was working in his life. He was led to write a church he had wronged by driving a car they allowed him to use when he knew he had a suspended license. He later wrecked the car and didn’t take responsibility for it. He now wrote them a letter confessing to them what he had done and that he wanted to pay for the damages when he earns the money. He was accepting full responsibility fully acknowledging that they might not accept him. But He wanted justice done in his case. The truly repentant are not looking for a way to escape justice, they are looking for a way to deal with their sin justly.

In demonstrating these seven marks of true repentance Paul commends them when he states, ‘You have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.”

Conclusion;

We now have a better understanding that repentance means to change one’s mind that leads to a change of lifestyle and a grieving over one’s sin. We also know the difference between godly sorrow that leads to repentance and worldly sorrow that simply leads to regret. Finally, we now have a clearer understanding of what true repentance looks like,

            A. An earnestness to make amends,

            B. An eagerness to vindicate themselves.

            C. Indignation-against the offender?

            D. Alarm at your own tendency to sin and its effects

            E. A longing and concern to restore the relationship broken by your sin.

            F. Zealous effort to ensure that it doesn’t happen again,

            G. A readiness to see justice done

True repentance has a double aspect; it looks upon things past with a weeping eye, and upon the future with a watchful eye.

—Robert Smith

Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

What about you? Do have some sin you need to repent of? Are you in need of salvation. Your life is a mess, it is a disaster right now and you are looking for a way to get it cleaned up?

You say, “I have had enough. I need to change my life.”

Well, God is calling you to repent of your sin right now.

come as we sing.

How to tell if someone is truly repentant:

Seven Identifying Marks of the truly repentant

2 Cor. 7:8-12

Two Greek words translated repent:

metamelomai

metanoew

Seven marks of the truly repentant:

A. An ____________ to make amends

B. An __________ to vindicate themselves.

C. ___________-against the offender?

D. _____ at your own tendency to sin and its effects

E. A _______ and concern to restore the relationship broken by your sin.

F. _______ effort to ensure that it doesn’t happen again,

G. A _________ to see justice done

readiness, earnestness, indignation, zealous, longing, alarm, eargerness


How to tell if someone is truly repentant:

Seven Identifying Marks of the truly repentant

2 Cor. 7:8-12

Two Greek words translated repent:

metamelomai

metanoew

Seven marks of the truly repentant:

A. An ____________ to make amends

B. An __________ to vindicate themselves.

C. ___________-against the offender?

D. _____ at your own tendency to sin and its effects

E. A _______ and concern to restore the relationship broken by your sin.

F. _______ effort to ensure that it doesn’t happen again,

G. A _________ to see justice done

readiness, earnestness, indignation, zealous, longing, alarm, eargerness

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