At first glance, it is difficult to imagine how repentance can be “false” in any sense of the word. Are we implying that the hundreds or thousands that come forward during an altar call may not really have repented after all? Could a church member who has been serving faithfully for the last thirty years be unsaved? The answer to these questions is “YES AND MORE!”.....more in that, EVEN some pastors and christian leaders may themselves be unregenerate. Let us turn to the Word of God for some answers....
LIFE OF KING SAUL
of all, I would like to use the life of King Saul to illustrate this “principle”
of false repentance. Take a look at the figure below....
The first recorded “sin” of King Saul was when he offered up the burnt offering instead of waiting for Samuel to do so (1 Sam 13:9, 13). There was no record of any “repentance” even after Samuel’s rebuke in 1 Samuel 13:13,14. The second time King Saul sinned was when he spared King Agag and the best of the latter’s sheep and flocks against God’s explicit command (1 Samuel 15:3, 9). Now, the most interesting and important point in this study of King Saul’s life is in his own confession of the three words-“I have sinned”. You will notice that he said this not only once but TWICE! (1 Sam 15:24; 1 Sam 15:30). Any right-thinking person would interpret this as REPENTANCE but read on and you will see that King Saul did not actually truly repent at all. Remember as the WORD OF GOD says, repentance must be accompanied by deeds (not words only)....
8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
“...also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.”
(NIV) Emphasis Mine
continue on the story of King Saul’s Life, take note that the Holy Spirit
left him as recorded in 1
Samuel 16:14 (primarily because he did not truly repent) and immediately an evil spirit afflicted him (there is no such thing as a spiritual vacuum- see also Matt 12:45). His life after this followed a downhill path- he tried to kill young David, killed eighty-five of the Lord’s priests through the hands of Doug the Edomite (1 Sam 22:18), consulted the witch of Endor (1 Sam 28:8) and finally committed suicide. To sum it up, the saga of King Saul is one of a man who did not truly repent but showed outward signs of “apparent" or "false” repentance. He even “wept aloud” (1 Sam 24:16) when told of how David spared his life. King Saul's life is in sharp contrast to the life of King David who after he had sinned, showed true and lasting signs of repentance (2 Samuel 12:13 and also see later part of David’s life and writings in the Psalms).
LIFE OF JUDAS ISCARIOT
The life of Judas Iscariot shows a fairly similar trend as that of King Saul. John Chapter 12 verse 6 tells us that Judas was the treasurer of the group and at the same time stole from the money bag (thus betraying the trust given to him). It is quite an amazing fact that Judas, who havingpersonally sat under the teaching of our Lord for three years and having witnessed countless miracles done by Jesus, still did not find room in his heart to repent from this “love of money”.
10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have
wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
(NIV) Emphasis mine.
There are two points to emphasize from the Scriptures above. Firstly that “the love of money” causes some to wander from the faith and in the case of Judas Iscariot to totally abandon his faith. Secondly TAKE NOTE that Verse 11 above COMMANDS (NOT REQUESTS) us to FLEE FROM THE LOVE OF MONEY. Money by itself is inanimate but the “Love of Money” stems from a spiritual source and pursues us (hence the admonition to flee from it).
Continuing on the story of Judas, we find that his failure to repent finally caused SATAN to enter him and he went on to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver (thirty pieces of silver was’nt much money even in those days and the sad fact is that he (Judas) betrayed the Son of God and no ordinary man for this amount). Matthew Chapter 27 verses 3 and 4 goes on to say that Judas was “seized with remorse (not repentance)” and even returned the money (a counterfeit form of restitution). Like King Saul, he said those three words “I HAVE SINNED” (CONFESSION WITHOUT TRUE REPENTANCE-an extremely subtle form of deception). Some hard-core criminals may also say the same words in prison but when released, continue on to pursue their life of crime. That Judas did not truly repent (and turn to God) is evidenced by the fact that he finally “hung himself”. Suicide is a terrible crime to oneself and it is the process of one destroying God’s temple (1 Cor 3:16,17) without any recourse at all to repentance. No suicide victim can enter heaven and a pastor or minister should bear this in mind when asked to conduct the funeral service of a suicide victim. Contrast the story of Judas Iscariot with that of Peter. Peter denied Jesus three times (he did it out of fear and not for pecuniary gain) but he truly repented and God restored him. In fact, Jesus had already prophesied that Peter would be restored....
32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."
(NIV) Emphasis mine
Notice from the above verse that Jesus told Peter “When you have turned back.....”. The New King James version translates it as “When you have returned to me...” True repentance always turns one away from sin back to God. It is interesting to note that there was no record of Jesus praying for Judas Iscariot personally.
Lastly, in summary let us turn to one New Testament Scripture....
10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
(KJV) Emphasis Mine
above verse clearly shows that there are two kinds of sorrow- Godly sorrow
and Worldly sorrow. The former leads one to repentance and then to a SALVATION
THAT NEED NOT BE REPENTED OF (See the KJV version). In other words, there
is such a thing as a false salvation which needs repentance again. Worldly
sorrow with all its crying and tears and “I have sinned” declarations can
only lead to spiritual death. Worldly sorrow emanates from the soul and
is primarily an emotional response whereas the Godly sorrow which leads
to TRUE repentance is an act of will. Since the Holy Spirit is instrumental
in the process of True Repentance, it follows that False Repentance (essentially
a deceptive process), draws its inspiration
from the demonic realm.
I trust that you will be able to see now that there are many so-called christians (and also pastors and christian leaders) whose lives do not bear the fruits of true repentance. If they do not bear the fruits of true repentance, then they can only bear the fruits of FALSE REPENTANCE and its ultimate consequence- spiritual and very likely, eternal death. Pray that this would not be the end-result.
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