Faithlife Sermons

True Repentance

Strength in Weakness  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Canadians are known for being extremely kind people. So kind, that they are known for apologizing for, well everything. I read one article that said this. “Only in Canada will someone be rear-ended while driving, get out of their car, and say ‘Sorry’ to the person who hit them for being in their way.” In fact, saying ‘Sorry’ became so widespread, that the province of Ontario passed the Apologies Act in 2009 that been adopted by most of other provinces as well. This act established that when one apologized it was not an admission of fault or liability. Canadians were so used to saying sorry they were unintentionally admitting guilt. You see prior to this act, people were being found at fault in courts because they apologized at the time of an incident. You see we think, “They said they were sorry, so it must have been their fault. “But not for the Canadians, saying sorry was not an admission that they had done something wrong and needed forgiveness, but more of a sympathy passed from one person to another.
Now us rude Americans, we’re usually a little bit more clear. But we can still be deceptive. Perhaps you’ve made an apology like this before. It’s one of those “I’m sorry you feel that way” apologies. Now do you feel like that is a real apology? What if someone says they are sorry, but the keep doing the same thing over again. Do you think that person is really sorry? Or is that person really sorry about what they did, or are they just being sympathetic it caused a negative reaction? That’s not a true apology! It’s just saying I wish that what I did not make you feel bad. It’s not an admission of guilt or fault and it shows no intention to change. Now we have a newer phrase that expresses this same sentiment of sympathy without the intent to change. We can say say, “Sorry, not sorry.”
Scripture differentiates between an apology that is a sympathetic acknowledgement and a true apology. One that is an admission of guilt with the intent to make a change. The term often used in Scripture for the true apology is the word repentance.
Repentance is one of the Christianese words that we use a lot in church, but no so much in our daily conversations, so I want to be sure that we have a clearly define what repentance is. The word repent means to turn around or to change one’s mind leading to a change of action. It’s more than just a mental acknowledgement that you’ve done something wrong. It’s a mental acknowledgement that is accompanied by a change in direction. I’ve heard this illustration. Say you’ve prepared yourself to go skydiving. You’ve taken the safety courses, you’ve learned how to use the parachute, you know how to land. So the day finally comes, you’re in the air, the open up the door, you walk to the door, look at the ground 7000 feet below you, and you decide....Naaaah I’m good I don’t really want to do this. And you don’t. You immediately back away and go back to your seat. That’s a picture of repentance. You changed your mind (I’m not going to jump) and it led to a change in action. (Instead of jumping, you turn around and sit back down. So repentance is not just being sorry about your sin because it got you into some trouble or made you feel bad. Ray Pritchard worded it this way “Repentance is a decisive change in direction. It’s a change of mind that leads to a change of thinking that leads to a change of attitude that leads to a change of feeling that leads to a change of values that leads to a change in the way you live.”
We’re back to our series in Judges strength in weakness. And in Judges 10, we’re going to see the difference between one of these pseudo-apologies and true repentance. This is one those passages in Scripture that is easy to look over because there are no major characters or Sunday school story, but there are some major Biblical themes at play here Let’s start reading together in Judges 10:6-9
Judges 10:6–9 ESV
The people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites, and the gods of the Philistines. And they forsook the Lord and did not serve him. So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of the Philistines and into the hand of the Ammonites, and they crushed and oppressed the people of Israel that year. For eighteen years they oppressed all the people of Israel who were beyond the Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead. And the Ammonites crossed the Jordan to fight also against Judah and against Benjamin and against the house of Ephraim, so that Israel was severely distressed.
So this a familiar scene, Israel has left serving the Lord and turned to idols. But this time we get a picture of how far Israel had gone. They were basically serving everybody’s God except the God that had delivered them time after time. As a matter fact, they were serving the God’s of the people that God had delivered them from. God always made it clear when they were under oppression by another nation it was because of their choice to worship their false gods. You would think that once God had delivered them out of the hands of one of their oppressors it would cause them to hate that false god and cling closer to the God had delivered them. But that was not the case. They were truly trapped, they were enslaved to worshipping these false gods. And while at times they included the Lord in the pantheon of their worship, they never totally put away the false gods that were causing them so much trouble.
But before we point our finger at how dumb it sounds for them to do that. Realize that the human heart has not changed. When we allow things to become idols in our life, we find ourselves continually going back to them. Even when they cause us pain, even when we feel enslaved by them, our answers is often not to put that false god away, but to chase after it more. For example, the person who has made money their god. Their passion to get more money overtakes their passion to pursue the Lord. They start neglecting a personal time with God. Then all of a sudden, they have some unexpected expense that empties their bank account. The human tendency is not to pursue God, and realize the error of pursuing after worldly treasure, but to pursue money even more, to work even harder and try to make all that money back. Now not just skipping devotional time, but skipping church too trying to chase the paper. That’s no different from Israel chasing these gods that had caused them so much trouble, pain, and disappointment before.
Well in verse 7, the Bible says that they were sold into the hands of Ammonites and the Philistines. That word sold would be the opposite of redeemed. Instead of purchasing them to be his own, he is turning them over to another master to whom they will enslaved. They way it pictured is pretty vivid. It says Israel was crushed and oppressed in verse 8, and 9 pictures Israel as severely distressed, and the Bible says this went on for 18 years.
Eventually, as they always did, Israel cried out to God for deliverance. But God gave them a reply that they weren’t expecting. Let’s read Judges 10:10-14
Judges 10:10–14 ESV
And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord, saying, “We have sinned against you, because we have forsaken our God and have served the Baals.” And the Lord said to the people of Israel, “Did I not save you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites, from the Ammonites and from the Philistines? The Sidonians also, and the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you, and you cried out to me, and I saved you out of their hand. Yet you have forsaken me and served other gods; therefore I will save you no more. Go and cry out to the gods whom you have chosen; let them save you in the time of your distress.”
Here is Israel’s false apology. “We have sinned, we forsook our God and served the Baals.” God we’re sorry! God had seen and heard that before. Been there, done that. We’ve said that Israel wanted to God to change their circumstances, but not to change their hearts. And here it’s the same thing. They just wanted God to get them out of this situation. They might as well have said, “God we’re sorry that it hurt your feelings that we worshipped Baal, please help us! But we’re not really sorry because as soon as you deliver us, we’re going right back to those gods. They were sorry about the consequences of their sin, but not really sorry about their sin.
And God gave a very harsh answer to this continual cycle of foolishness. He goes all the way back to the time of Moses and lists the peoples that he had delivered them from. The Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, the Sidonians, the Amalekites, the Maonites. God had given them the victory over all of these nations, yet the still served their gods, so God was no longer going to deliver them. God’s like, why are you calling on me now? Why don’t you just call on the gods that you’ve been worshipping! If they’re so great, they should be able to deliver you right? They had pushed God to the edge. He was tired of hearing sorry with no change in attitude or behavior. And here’s the first thing I want you to see this morning.

I. The Need for True Repentance

God didn’t need another I’m sorry. God needed repentance. And maybe you have been in this spot too. Where you realize that you have done wrong, and you do the little “God I’m sorry that I did that prayer.” And then a few days, a few hours, a few minutes later. You’re right back doing the same things. “Ooops God. I’m sorry again, I know that’s wrong.”
Now I’m saying that we can’t have real struggles with sin. But I’m saying that we should struggle with our sin! It shouldn’t be that our flesh wins every single time. We should be taking steps like memorizing Scripture, fasting and prayer, getting accountability, getting counseling things like that indicate that we have changed direction, that we have made the decision to walk away from our sin. It shouldn’t be that we have the attitude that well, this sin is part of my life, and it it always will be. Sorry God. I can’t change it. That’s not repentance.
Here’s the first subpoint under the need for repentance

A. Sin is serious

Repentance is a vital part of the Christian life, because repentance is how we deal with our sin. Often we don’t have a true heart of repentance because we don’t truly understand the gravity of our sin. It wasn’t until God completely shut Israel down that they understood that this was serious. God meant business.
If you didn’t know, sin is serious in the eyes of God! The Bible tells us in Hebrews 1:9 that God loves righteousness and hates wickedness.
Hebrews 1:9 ESV
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”
Sin is so serious in the eyes of God that He says in Romans 6:23 that the proper payment for sin is death. Not just physical death, but eternal separation from God. Revelation 21:8 says this
Revelation 21:8 ESV
But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
Sin is so serious in the eyes of God that Jesus had to leave His throne to in heaven to live on this earth and suffer a brutal death on the cross in order to pay the debt that is owed for our sins! He took our sins upon himself, that we may obtain righteousness and everlasting life and be relieved of the wrath due for our sins. Romans 5:8-9.
Romans 5:8–9 ESV
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
Sin is not a joke, it’s no laughing matter, it’s not something to toy around with. God takes it seriously, and so should we.
Why then does God not just crush us all at once. Why did God rescue Israel all the times before knowing that they were still holding on to their false gods? Why now, all of a sudden though did God give this response? Why now was he refusing to help them? It’s because God is patient and merciful.
Sorry in advance, but this is the illustration that came to my mind. When a baby is born, the parents are willing to clean those dirty diapers. Aaaw, the baby had an oopsie! It’s not fun, but they do it because they love their baby and that baby doesn’t know better. But as that child grows, the expectation is that the “oopsies” will stop and the child will learn to take care of that for themselves. If the kid is 5,6,7 years old and you’re still having to do that for your child on a regular basis it becomes a serious strain on you the parent. You start thinking “Is there something wrong? Do I need to take you to the doctor? What is the problem? It doesn’t make sense for you to still be doing this.”
God is longsuffering, He is kind, He is loving, and He is willing to “Change some dirty diapers” But there comes a point when God is like, “Bro, Sis, are we really still dealing with this?
As we read a few weeks ago in Romans 1, there comes a time when God will give you over, he will sell you to those things that you worship more than him. If you want to worship money, fine I’ll let money be your God and see where it gets you. Sex, go right ahead. We’ll see how long it satisfies you. Fame? cool, you go for it, but all the love you get from others will not replace favor with me.
Hey don’t wait till you are in a time of trouble when God has turned you over to your gods before and it seems that you are so far gone that God God no longer come to your rescue. Repent now, turn to God today.
Transition: Here’s the second subpoint under the need for repentance

B. Repentance is necessary for salvation and sanctification

Repentance is vital for both the person who does not yet Christ and for those that are His followers.
Without repentance, we cannot begin our relationship with Christ. Jesus’s message when He walked on earth was Repent and believe the gospel for the kingdom of God is at hand. Salvation, following Jesus, starting a relationship with Christ comes from the decision to change our mind about the way we are living our life, to change our mind and seek to wholly follow the words of Scripture, to change our mind from trying to be good enough to earn our way to heaven, to turn away from our sinfulness . And believe in, trust in, place our faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must trust that His death and resurrection were all that is needed to receive salvation. In Acts 2:38, Peter said this
Acts 2:38 ESV
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Peter emphasized repent. Turning from sin and turning to Christ. And be baptized. Now the act of baptism doesn’t save you, but it is an outward illustration of your commitment to follow Christ. Turn from your sin and follow Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. You see Praying a nice prayer with no change in your mind, with no change in your heart is not salvation. That is false conversion. Without repentance, there is no salvation. That doesn’t mean you instantly become a perfect saint, but that you have committed yourself to doing things God’s way.
Which leads us to the fact that repentance is vital to the life of the believer as well. It’s through repentance that we are able to maintain our fellowship with God and puts us on the path of sanctification or becoming more like Christ. No doubt, sin creates a barrier between us and God. While it does not sever our relationship with God. When we have unconfessed , unrepented of sin in our lives it can cause there to be a distance between us an God. 1 John 1:6 says
1 John 1:6 ESV
If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
So if we say that we have a relationship with God where he hears from us and we hear from him, but we are walking in darkness or sin, then we are not telling the truth. Then verses 1 John 1:7-9
1 John 1:7–9 ESV
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
As God reveals sin in our life, we should respond with an attitude of repentance. We should turn from that sin and seek to do or think God’s way. This displays the genuineness of our faith as we continually seek to follow after Christ and his way. We should constantly be in a state of repentance. Repentance is a vital rhythm of the Christian life.
Repentance is a central theme in Christianity that is often overlooked and not mentioned, but it is certainly a need if we are going to follow Christ.
Well it seems that Israel may have finally got the message. Judges 10:15-16
Judges 10:15–16 ESV
And the people of Israel said to the Lord, “We have sinned; do to us whatever seems good to you. Only please deliver us this day.” So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord, and he became impatient over the misery of Israel.
Transitions : Here’s point #2

II. The Picture of True Repentance

Israel had other periods in this book where it seems that they served the Lord, but here are a few things that make this time different.
Here is the first thing.

A. They put away their gods

This is the first time in the book that the Bible mentions that Israel actually put the foreign gods away from them and served the Lord. I think that is significant. It makes it seem that at other times they may have tucked their false gods to the side, but were never fully committed to getting rid of them. If we are truly repentant, we will not just put our false gods away till we get what we need from the Lord. True repentance says the we are getting rid of these things once and for all.
Second thing is this.

B. They followed God not man

We’ve seen periods of times when Israel served the Lord when a judge was present, but this is the first time that we see Israel choose to serve God without being led by a judge. Back in chapter 6 when God sent a prophet to warn them about their idolatry, the Bible records absolutely no response. It was not until Gideon was empowered by the Spirit that they included the Lord in their worship. But as Gideon began to falter to so did their worship of God. While others can encourage us and keep accountable, ultimately true repentance is turning toward God.
And here is the third thing

C. They changed their attitude

In the past, they said God we were bad, get us out of trouble. This time, they opened their response by saying, “Do to us whatever seems good to you.” It seems that they understood that they were getting what they deserved. This time it wasn’t just a cry for God to get them out of their situation. It was a cry out for God. Even if God still punished them, they still wanted God. They still requested “Only please deliver us this day.” But this time this was a plea for God’s mercy, not just a request for the Lord to use His magic delivery powers.
I can’t stress it enough that repentance requires a change in our heart, mind, and actions. If we are truly repentant, we will understand that our sin has consequences, and we will be willing to accept those consequences while we follow God and plead for His mercy.
In verse 16 we see the result of their repentance. The Bible says that God became impatient over their misery. Some versions use the word grieved their. It saying that God got tired of seeing His people suffer. It hurt His heart to see them suffer. God was under no obligation to deliver them after their continual rejection of Him, but His heart was moved to compassion and mercy by their heart of repentance. Israel would still deal with these enemies, especially the Philistines for years to come. They would still have their struggles with sin and idolatry, but God once again began to move among His people.
Transition: There’s one more thing I’d like to point out here and that is

III. The Source of True Repentance

The source of true repentance is God’s grace. The simple definition of grace is this. God giving us something that we don’t deserve. Now where do you see God’s grace in this passage?
Our mind immediately goes to verse 16 where it says that God was now going to help them in their misery. And that is true, God is going to extend His grace towards Israel as a result of their repentance. But God’s grace shows up in this passage before that.
God was showing His grace by answering them so harshly when they made their false apology. It wasn’t until God said He would save them nor more that they truly understood the depth and severity of their sin against God which moved them to repentance. Consider these Scriptures
Romans 2:4
Romans 2:4 ESV
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?
Titus 2:11-12
Titus 2:11–12 ESV
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,
You see God, in his grace. Reveals the sin in our lives and points us towards repentance. If you only take one thing with you this week it’s this. Repentance is the proper response to God’s grace.
In our culture, people often put grace and repentance at odds with each other. We live in an age of grace where many people feel that we should be able continue to do say, live, however we want to, but that is not what the Bible says about grace. God’s grace is not Him being soft on sin! God’s grace is Him revealing your sin to you, so that you can turn from it in repentance.
To illustrate. If you never instructed your child not to touch the stove, would that be grace? If you didn’t discipline your child when they continually went near the stove when you told them not to, is that grace? No! Grace says, “You are in danger!” and if have to give you a couple swats or put you in time out to keep you of a worse danger. I will do it. But that child has to learn to stay away from the stove.
The Bible says in Romans 5:20
Romans 5:20 ESV
Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
Yes praise the Lord that God’s grace abounds where our sins abounds. But the beginning of Romans 6:1-2 says this
Romans 6:1–2 ESV
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
God’s grace isn’t just freedom to live however we want. God’s grace is when God reveals to us through His Word or through circumstances in our life that we need to turn back to God before we end up in place that we don’t want to be. Israel’s idolatry was spiraling out of control, and God in His grace revealed to them that this cycle had to stop before it became even worse.
If our repentance was the source of God’s grace, then that would mean that we did something to earn God’s grace.That would mean we could earn our own salvation. But understanding that it’s God’s grace the reveals to us our sin, it makes verses like Ephesians 2:8-9 make sense.
Ephesians 2:8–9 ESV
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Repentance is the proper response to God’s grace. And God responds to repentance with compassion, mercy, and even more grace.
There’s a big different between an apology and repentance. Keep in mind. God not only hears our words, but sees our hearts.It’s not enough for us to just say the right things. Israel said the right thing at the beginning. They acknowledged that they had sinned by worshipping Baal and the other false gods, but God saw that there was no change in their hearts. It was a a pseudo-apology, not repentance. We can fool other people, but we cannot fool God. God sees whether or not your heart is genuinely repentant.
My question for you this morning is what does it take to move you from an apology to true repentance. Will it take God turning you over to your own gods? Will it take tragedy? Or will you respond to God’s grace revealed to you in His Word with repentance.
If you a Christian this morning. Remember that repentance needs to be a consistent rhythm in your life. We should constantly seeking to look more life Christ daily. If there is known sin in your life repent! If there is no known sin in your life, ask God for His grace to reveal in you areas where you need to change your heart. Let’s not be a people that are afraid of repentance in this age of grace. These two should work together to make us look more like Jesus. I challenge you to make Psalm 139:23-24 a daily prayer
Psalm 139:23–24a ESV
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
If you are listening this morning and you don’t know Christ. Scripture tells us the God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. God is extending His grace towards you. He has let you know that sin is a serious problem. He has revealed to you that is only the Death and Resurrection of Jesus that cleanse us from our sin and keep us from God’s coming wrath. This message could be God’s final warning to you. I urge you to come to Christ today. Turn from your life of sin, turn from just trying to be a good person and choose to follow Jesus.
If you would like to know more about a relationship with Christ, if you need someone to talk to or pray with about things going on in your life. Please drop us a message on the facebook page, and we would love to connect with you and help you with your relationship with Christ.
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