2nd Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
True repentance has within itself an integral element of relinquishing one's sins in favor of doing what is good and acceptable in the sight of God. It stems from a conviction of sin, initiated by the Holy Ghost, and the word of God acting upon the conscience. This repentance that the Bible speaks of differs widely from the pseudo confession and repentance we often hear of on the news. Godly sorrow does not deny wrong doing up to the point when one is caught, only to say those famous words "I'm sorry and I take full responsibility for my actions". True repentance is not based on embarrassment, nor regret of the baleful results of a wrong course of action, but is rooted in the fact that our sins violated God's law and thus caused the death of Jesus Christ.
This is what David was alluding to when he penned the next verses, following his sin with Bathsheba and the crime against her husband. Let's read:
Psalms 51:1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
There are several instances in the Bible that clearly show the two types of repentance, and it is necessary for us to know the difference.Let's first take a brief look at pseudo repentance, so that we may understand it's underlying motivations. Let's read:
Matthew 27:3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. 5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
Those words, "when he saw that he was condemned", tell us that Judas was "sorry" for being caught, and also for the negative results of his wrong course of action. He obviously was not sorry for the sin of betraying Jesus to a shameful death, for the Bible tells us that he went out and hanged himself, and as a rule, true repentance never ever leads to suicide. Never!
The true repentance therefore that the Lord acknowledges is that which results in a turning away from sin. This is what Zacchaeus did after being convinced by the Holy Ghost and the word of God, that his actions had violated the rights of others, and that He had sinned against God. Let's read:
Luke 19:8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. 9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
Jesus recognized his sincerity and the accompanying actions which signaled a decided change in the way Zacchaeus was henceforth going to do business with his fellow men. The same kind of repentance is what was encouraged by Christ when the woman taken in adultery, was brought before Him for a decision. Let's read:
John 8:3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. 10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
Jesus freely forgave the woman, but also counseled her to refrain from a life of sin. In other words, her repentance and His forgiveness should result in a positive change for the better, coupled with a steadfast purpose not to repeat the mistakes of the past. This is the kind of repentance that is needed today and it's the only one that God recognizes as being genuine. That's why the promise is made to every member of the human family, that if we truly confess our sins, God will forgive and cleanse us and grant us his grace so that we would not revert back to the errors of the past. Let's read:
1st John1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
We hope and trust that this brief presentation will inspire and encourage confidence in the Living God, when we turn to Him for true repentance and grace to enable us to live better lives. We therefore end with an important promise made by God Himself to every truly repentant person.
Ezekiel 33:15 If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. 16 None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.
May we remember this promise as long as we live. "Good night' and God bless!