The Wesleyan Methodist Church

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Works meet for Repentance

“It is being said that the chief need of the Church today is to repent because of its ‘lack of unity’…
we would suggest that before she repents of her disunity, she must repent of her apostasy.
She must repent of her perversion of, and substitutes for, ‘the faith once delivered to the saints.’
She must repent of setting up her own thinking and methods over against the divine revelation in Holy Scripture.
Here lies the reason for her lack of spiritual power and inability to deliver a living message in the power of the Holy Ghost
to a world ready to perish.” Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones given at the annual meeting of the Inter-Varsity Fellowship in 1954

C. H. SPURGEON: Ezekiel 9:8 THE PERSONS WHO ESCAPED, who could each say, “And I was left.” We are told that those were marked for mercy who did “sigh and cry for the abominations that were done in the midst thereof.” Now, we must be very particular about this. It is no word of mine, remember: it is God's word, and therefore I beg you to hear and weigh it for yourselves.

We do not read that the devouring sword passed by those quiet people who never did anybody any harm: no mention is made of such an exemption. Neither does the record say that the Lord saved those professors who were judicious, and maintained a fair name and repute until death. No; the only people that were saved were those who were exercised in heart, and that heart-work was of a painful kind: they sighed and cried because of abounding sin. They saw it, protested against it, avoided it, and, last of .all, wept over it continually. Where testimony failed, it remained for them to mourn; retiring from public labors, they sat them down and sighed their hearts away because of the evils which they could not cure; and when they felt that sighing alone would do no good, they took to crying in prayer to God that he would come and put an end to the dreadful ills which brooded over the land.

Works Worthy of Repentance:

Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: Matthew 3:8

1. In many conflicts I've frequently heard that the person who sinned has only begun to understand their sin and it's consequences and that forgiveness should be given to encourage the sinner in their spiritual growth...Forgiveness is based upon the claer evidence of Godly Sorrow-the first fruit worthy of Biblical repentance: This fruit worthy of repentance must be quickly observable-maybe in days, but not many weeks, certainly not months and not years. It fruit worthy of repentance has not shown it's self-then the repentance was false and deceitful and the false repentance added to the original sins not truly repented from.

Charles Spurgeon of Matthew 3:8. Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance. Act as a change of mind would lead you to do: above all, quit the pride in which you enwrap yourselves, and leave the serpent motives which now actuate you. Lord, save us from a fruitless repentance, which would be only an aggravation of our previous sins.

Barnes Commentary: "Matthew 3:8. Bring forth therefore fruits ... That is, the proper fruits of reformation; the proper evidence that you are sincere. Do not bring your cunning and dissimulation to this work; do not carry your hypocrisy into your professed repentance, but evince your sincerity by forsaking sin, and thus give evidence that this coming to Jordan to be baptized is not an act of dissimulation. No discourse could have been more appropriate or more cutting.

Meet for repentance Fit for repentance; appropriate to it the proper expression of repentance."

Matthew Henry:

2. Here is a word of exhortation and direction (v. 8); “Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance. Therefore, because you are warned to flee from the wrath to come, let the terrors of the Lord persuade you to a holy life.” Or, “Therefore, because you profess repentance, and attend upon the doctrine and baptism of repentance, evidence that you are true penitents.” Repentance is seated in the heart. There it is as a root; but in vain do we pretend to have it there, if we do not bring forth the fruits of it
in a universal reformation, forsaking all sin, and cleaving to that which is good; these are fruits, axious tes metanoias — worthy of repentance. Note, Those are not worthy the name of penitents, or their privileges, who say they are sorry for their sins, and yet persist in them. They that profess repentance, as all that are baptized do, must be and act as becomes penitents, and never do any thing unbecoming a penitent sinner. It becomes penitents to be humble and low in their own eyes, to be thankful
for the least mercy, patient under the greatest affliction, to be watchful against all appearances of sin, and approaches towards it, to abound in every duty, and to be charitable in judging others.

John Wesley

3. Repentance is of two sorts; that which is termed legal, and that which is styled evangelical repentance. The former (which is the same that is spoken of here) is a thorough conviction of sin. The latter is a change of heart (and consequently of life) from all sin to all holiness.

Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to {our} father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. Luke 3:8

Matthew Henry: Luke 3:8

4. Those that profess repentance are highly concerned to live like penitents (v. 8): “Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance, else, notwithstanding your professions of repentance, you cannot escape the wrath to come.” By the fruits of repentance it will be known whether it be sincere or no. By the change of our way must be evidenced the change of
our mind.

5. If we be not really holy, both in heart and life, our profession of religion and relation to God and his church will stand us in no stead at all: Begin not now to frame excuses from this great duty of repentance, by saying within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father. What will it avail us to be the children of godly parents if we be not godly, to be within the pale of the Church if we be not brought into the bond of the covenant

How Not to Repent

One of the first steps is that you are going to have to do is re-train your heart about how you should not try to repent.

The Bible says, "...the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death." (2 Corinthians 7:10).

We should feel sorrow because of sin, but God's will is a repentance that is "without regret."

Biblical repentance is not to improve yourself by making yourself feel "bad" because of what you have done wrong. Even though you may not know how to change by any other means, it must be a repentance without regret.

Making yourself feel bad about what you have done wrong may punish you into a temporary appearance of outward conformity, but it does nothing to help change your behavior long term.

The Bible says, "...the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement...are of no value against fleshly indulgence." (Col. 2:23). Repentance by regret is self-abasement and is of "no value against fleshly indulgence."

Greater severity in your self-condemnation may feel religious, but it is not God's will for you to grow that way. Making yourself feel bad for what you do wrong is "self-made religion" because the pain we feel seems to justify our wrong doing.

But no amount of feeling bad will ever make the payment or justify what you have done wrong. Self-inflicted pain from guilt doesn’t justify you before God because, "God is the one who justifies;" (Rom. 8:33b).

Condemning ourselves after we have done something wrong gives us a false sense of being "good" again. Self-condemnation keeps us bent on earning a sense of right standing before God and prevents us from putting our faith in suffering of Christ and the pain He felt on our behalf.

Self-condemnation gives us a false sense of goodness before God, "for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God" (James 1:20).

Repent of Closing Yourself Off From God!

Motivating improvement by condemnation makes you want to hide from God—not draw near to Him. It closes you inside.

Jesus told the religious leaders of His day, "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people..." (Matthew 23:13; see also 2 Cor 3:17). When you try to motivate repentance and change by condemnation you are being pharisaical and are shutting yourself—and others—from the freedom necessary for experiencing closeness to God.

Underlying any philosophy of ministry is a belief about how to best help people grow. It is true toward other people—it is also true toward ourselves. The Bible refers to the old covenant of the law as a, "ministry of condemnation" (2 Cor. 3:9). It also says that, "the ministry of condemnation has glory" (2 Cor. 3:9a).

Trying to help ourselves grow by a ministry of condemnation seems religious because it has an appearance of glory. But, in contrast, it also says, "For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it." (2 Cor. 3:10). Paul asks, "how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory?" (2 Cor. 3:8).

If you are demanding that you repent by self-condemnation you are trying to change in a way that is according to the law and "works of the flesh." In contrast the Bible tells us, "and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses" (Acts 13:39).

If there is only one "rule" I could give you about changing according to grace it would be this: You have to learn to delight to die to a "ministry of condemnation" toward yourself. Directing your heart away from self-condemnation should be ruthless, strongly assertive, and unbending.

Don’t miss these two things. Repentance requires that you retrain your heart to stop trusting self-inflicted guilt and that you start trusting Christ's payment for your sin. Repenting also requires that you retrain your heart about what your heart believes is the best way to correct yourself and do better next time.

Observe your reaction to when you do something wrong. Do you stay away from God? What gives you freedom to draw near to God again? Are you trusting the forgiveness of God because you made yourself feel bad for long enough? You should be trusting the forgiveness of God because of power of the cross and the cleansing of God.

It won't ever be "righteous living" if it is motivated by self-condemnation! Consider it sin to feel any sense of justification or righteousness because of how much pain you feel from self-condemnation. The security you need is not from how well you protect yourself from God. Hate any sense of "righteousness" you feel because of self-inflicted pain from condemnation.

Teach Your Heart

Discipline motivated by fear, self-condemnation, and guilt won’t change you at the levels that are needed. Earthly pursuits are too many to be dealt with by these means.

You have to repent from the heart about how you have been trying to repent.

It isn't enough for you to know in your head that self-condemnation is an ineffective and sinful way to repent. Your heart has to learn a more effective way to correct unwanted behaviors and turn to God.

Use thanks and praise to help your heart hear how good and safe it is to trust the cross of Christ. Listen to what you are thanking God about! React with thanks and praise at the slightest indication of self-condemnation or self-based righteousness. Get your heart to hear that it is far more effective to change by hearing thanks and praise for the truth.

The cross is more powerful than your sin. Thank the Lord with great joy that you don't have to put your faith in the severity of your self-condemnation.

Delight your heart by praise toward God that you don’t have to wait to trust the forgiveness of God until you are "done feeling bad."

Biblical repentance is a more effective way to grow—a way of delight toward God—not of contempt toward yourself. You have to get to the heart of the matter—without self-condemnation. Delighting in the Lord can help you change.




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