Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: March 2019

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

III. False Repentance

III. False Repentance

The pattern in Scripture is that Biblical repentance always results in turning away from sin.  Biblical repentance is not merely a change of mind, but also results in a change of direction.  If a person’s life has no change of direction, repentance is not genuine, and conversion has not taken place (Ephesians 2:10).  Change as a reality should continue after the event of salvation into a life of sanctification, which is abiding in Christ.  Salvation is not the end of Biblical repentance, but merely the beginning of something continual throughout the Christian’s lifetime.  Without the continual attitude of repentance, the saved sinner will not be engaged in the battle of the Spirit against the flesh (Galatians 5:17), and he will not abide in Christ (John 15:1-8).  Therefore, he will fail the Great Commission in that he will fail to bring forth fruit (John 15:4-5) because he fails to abide in the Vine.  

To understand the Bible’s teaching on repentance, we must understand that there are portions of Scripture teaching repentance UNTO salvation (an EVENT) AND there are portions of Scripture teaching repentance AFTER salvation UNTO sanctification (a PROCESS).  These two levels of repentance should never be confused.  Repentance is a change of attitude that always results in a turning from the things of this world and a turning to the things of the New Genesis in Christ. 

11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation {as an event} hath appeared to all men {in the Person of Jesus Christ; grace manifested in the flesh}, 12 Teaching us that {repentance now exemplified}, denying {disavow, reject, refuse} ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly {right-mindedly; self-controlled} , righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for {in confident expectation} that blessed hope {the believer’s glorification}, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar {beyond the usual} people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:11-14).

CHANGE, as an OUTCOME, is a key word to understanding genuine Biblical repentance. 

Before salvation, repentance is a radical change of attitude about turning from sin and “dead works.”  After salvation, repentance is a radical change of life in how we think, feel, and act regarding sin, “dead works,” and the commandments of God.  After salvation, repentance is a radical change of life unto sanctification.  Repentance unto sanctification is a change in attitudes that result in a complete, radical change in the direction of the goals and pursuits of one’s life beginning with full surrender to the known truths about God’s expectations.  Spiritual growth in sanctification is measured by growing through increased knowledge of God’s expectations by studying the Word of God and fully yielding (the amen attitude) to every truth learned.  All of this is what is involved in “perfecting the saints for the work of the ministry” (Ephesians 4:12). 

          If repentance is merely a change of mind, then repentance is merely intellectual.  However, repentance is better defined as a change of thinking, attitudes, and emotions.  This latter definition is the way repentance is exemplified throughout Scripture.  I John 2:15-17 presents a juxtaposition between loving God and loving “the world” and “the things that are in the world.”  Juxtaposition is “the act or an instance of placing two or more things side by side often to compare or contrast.”[1] 

Love is an emotion that moves a person to act in a sacrificial way towards the persons or things loved.  This is exemplified in John 3:16; ‘for God so loved . . . that He gave.”  God’s love for lost sinners moved Him to sacrifice His Son for the redemption and justification of sinners.  Love without sacrificial giving is like repentance without change.
Therefore, I John 2:15-17 defines repentance as a change of thinking, attitudes, and emotions that stops a person sacrificing for the things of this world and begins to sacrifice for the evangelical and sanctificational purposes of God in the unfolding New Genesis “in Christ.”  If a person is “born again” into the New Creation, he will begin to stop sacrificing his life for the “things that are in the world” (the cursed creation of which Satan is the “prince and power of the air” and the “god of this world”).  If a person is “born again” into the New Creation, he will begin to start sacrificing his life for the things of the New Creation.  This juxtaposition manifests genuine repentance that culminated in an event of salvation and having been “born again” into “the regeneration.”  This is the juxtaposition presented to believers in I John 2:15-17 as a manifestation of genuine repentance that led to an event called salvation; being “born again” out from the cursed creation into the New Creation (II Corinthians 5:17).  When the heart is converted in Biblical repentance, that person’s emotions and attitudes are radically changed to want what God’s heart wants. 

15 Love {agapáō} not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:15-17).

          Worldliness is an emotional and sensual preoccupation with the things of the cursed creation.  Worldliness is being defined subjectively and narrowly within Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism in present day Christianity.  When John says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world,” what exactly does he mean?  It is an important question to answer because to “love the world” reveals that God’s love “is not in” that person.  There is godly love and worldly love.  Worldly love is any emotion or motivation that is fed by the corruption of the “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (I John 2:16).  

“The world,” that we are commanded not to love, is a very broad and encompassing term.  The word “world” is translated from the Greek word kosmos (kos’-mos).  The context defines “the world” as all the satanic influences within the corruptions of religion, politics, and economics.  These influences have varied through the millennia while maintaining certain consistencies within the variations.  Religions have evolved and thousands of false religions have developed over the millennia.  Within all these false religions, there is a commonality varying by degrees in paganism, syncretism, and idolatry.  A repentant person, who loves “not the world, neither the things that are in the world,” will not allow his soul and mind to be fed by any of these corruptions of “the world.” 

1. Paganism is the corruption of human sexuality in numerous ways and in varying degrees.  Modern day paganism has corrupted human sexuality in degrees equal to the worst that has ever been known in the world through the corruption of our children and the inculcation of a culture that is practically given over to the pornographic.  Inculcation is the constant barrage and instruction that corrupts children regarding human sexuality at the earliest ages possible.  Neopaganism through public education is corrupting godly human sexuality at a level not seen in the world since God judged the world with the Great Flood. 
2. Syncretism is the merging, blending, and integrating of false beliefs about God into religious practices.  Syncretism is the corruption of Bible doctrine by degree through integrating false notions about God and what is acceptable and unacceptable to Him.  Syncretism begins with the corruption of the Gospel and what defines a Biblical faith response to the Gospel to be saved.  The span of this corruption has extended to new degrees one would have thought impossible.  Yet, the span of corruption continues to expand daily.  Syncretism results in Ecumenicism and Pluralism.  Toleration is the banner under which Syncretism thrives and grows like a field of weeds strangling truth with its very contact.
3. Idolatry is exalting anything above the one true God in worship or in worship practices.  Idolatry does not need the presence of a stone, wood, or metal god to exist in the hearts of humans.  Idolatry is any form of corruption of the sanctity of worship.  Idolatry steals worship from God to put it upon man or something men want.  Idolatry puts other things than God at the focus of ministry.  Idolatry accepts any form of worship and thereby extricates God from worship because God’s presence is always separate from worldliness in holiness.  This world and all that is in it is corrupted by sin and cursed of God.  Therefore, God accepts only that which is purified of worldliness to be used in worshiping Him.  A perfect example of this is how quickly Christian icons become idols; i.e., bowing before a cross hung in a church building to pray. 

What are some of the “things” (I John 2:15) that the world offers that promise us fulfillment in our lives?  How many have spent years chasing after something they thought would fulfill their lives to ultimate discover it to be nothing more than a handful of sand.  Those wasted years can never be regained.  These “things” that we waste years pursuing are diverse and all encompassing.  Parents spend years pleading with children and grandchildren not to waste their lives chasing the same winds the parents chased.  We certainly find three main categories of “things” that the world offers to entice our pursuits in the account of the temptation of our Lord Jesus.  

1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred {the fleshly necessities of life}. 3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. 5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down {testing God to prove Him rather than just living by faith}: for it is written {the devil quotes Scripture to Jesus}, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me {the pride of life in wanting/worshiping self- exaltation and power}. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him” (Matthew 4:1-11).

Satan is but one being.  He is neither omnipresent nor omniscient.  Although he is a much more powerful being than are human beings, he comes nowhere near to the power of God.  Satan rules and influences through millions of minions.  These minions are deceived people promoted to positions of power and influence in world politics, world religions, and world economics.  They are at every level of cultures and societies all over the world.  These minions are antichrist in all their objectives while promoting their ideas and philosophies as the solutions to all the world’s problems.  However, Satan himself came to meet with Jesus to tempt Him.

“The lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (I John 2:16) are the three central avenues through which we allow worldliness to enter our lives.  These three avenues must be carefully and meticulously guarded.  Certainly, when a believer fails in guarding any one of these avenues of sin into his life, repentance and confession are necessary to restore him to power and “fellowship” with God (I John 1:9). 

In the tempting of Jesus, the world “tempted” in Matthew 4:1 is from the Greek word peirazo (pi-rad’-zo).  The word means to test, try, or prove through enticements.  Although Jesus is impeccable, He was tested and proven sinless in three main arenas of life.  

Sinners are susceptible to Paganism in the form of Hedonism.  Paganism and Hedonism tempt us through the “lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes.”  Secondly, all people want to be lord of their own lives in varying degrees.  This temptation comes to us in the form of the “pride of life.”  This happens when we rebel against God’s divinely appointed chain-of-command (Ephesians 5:21-6:9).  Every person struggles with the “pride of life.”  We all want to be looked-up to.  We all want to be the go-to person in power or authority. 

The three areas of the temptation of Jesus are common to all of us.  Every believer should be aware of these three avenues of temptation to sin in our lives.  Repentance begins by understanding these three avenues of temptation to sin and becomes aware before the fact.  In other words, we KNOW that we will be tempted with these three avenues of sin into our lives throughout every moment of the day in varying degrees.  Repentance as a change of mind, attitude, and emotions then is also a guarding of the heart regarding these avenues of temptation. 

The point of temptation is that sin will constantly confront you.  Repentance understands that when sin confronts the sinner’s heart with temptation, that temptation must be confronted with a heart surrendered to will of God (“it is written,” Matthew 4:4, 6, and 10).  

1. Satan tempts regarding what sustains us (Matthew 4:3-4).  The objective of the testing is to discover to where we first turn regarding the material needs of life.  The failure is being preoccupied with what sustains us rather than with Who sustains us.  At the point of starvation, Jesus turns the sinner’s attention to the Word of God and the God of the Word for his sustenance.  When we become preoccupied with what sustains us, this is “the lust of the flesh” (I John 2:15). 
2. Satan tempts regarding the contradiction of faith in testing or proving God (Matthew 5:5-6).  Faith does not seek to prove God’s faithfulness.  Faith trusts in and rests in God’s faithfulness.  Although God does on occasion tell the disobedient to prove Him (Malachi 3:10), and God tolerated Gideon’s putting out the fleece (Judges 6:37), true faith should not need to test God.  Testing God certainly should not be needed once God has proven Himself over many occasions.  We have many such occasions revealed through the Scripture.  To reject those proofs and ask for your own experiential proofs is in fact unbelief.  This is an act of the “lust of the eyes” for it walks by sight, not by faith. 
3. Satan tempts regarding what fulfills us (Matthew 5:7-10).  There is within every human being an innate desire to be both loved and appreciated.  These things fulfill us as human beings.  We can live through all types of difficulties if we understand we have a God Who loves us and appreciates our willingness to endure life as we serve Him.  A very large part of life is the curse and living our lives through the difficulties of the curse.  Sickness and death ought to be expected aspects of our lives.  It helps us endure life’s trials and difficulties when we know we have others willing to encourage us and walk with us through the fires.  However, there is also a temptation to seek our own gratification through wrong motivations. 

To want do well solely to gain the praise of others is to steal the glory that belongs only to God.  Dr. Harold B. Sightler once said, “Many a man has not given in to the lust of the flesh, and has passed up the lust of the eye with flying colors; only to give in to the pride of life.”  “The pride of life” is the worship of one’s self for the purpose of one’s own successes and exaltation in the eyes and hearts of others.  Every sinner is susceptible to this temptation!  Self-righteousness is a major manifestation of “the pride of life.”  

A sinner cannot even imagine the many facets of worldliness.  Most godly people can recognize worldliness as easily as one might see a person with a painted red face in a crowd.  Worldliness is apparent in one’s mannerisms.  Worldliness is apparent in conversations, occupations, and even one’s recreation.  Worldliness is apparent in the way we dress and even in our countenance.  Worldliness is apparent by what we love and what we do not love.  Worldliness is apparent by what we do and what we do not do.  In most cases, there is very little difference between professing Christians and the lost in these things.  A Christian cannot love the world and love God at the same time.  Yet many worldly Christians have deceived themselves about their worldliness and about their love of God.  

Repentance, as a change of mind, attitudes, and emotions, UNDERSTANDS that the “born again” sinner enters into spiritual warfare with his own “flesh” (sin nature).  The sinner’s “old man” is still part of the cursed creation and continues to be enticed to by the “things” of that cursed creation.  The repentant “born again” believer also understands he has a New Nature in the Person of the indwelling/enabling Holy Spirit that is a part of the New Creation.  

God added the Mosaic Covenant (the Law) to the Abrahamic Covenant as an external control mechanism to restrain sin in the lives of believing Jews.  The Mosaic Covenant was sanctificational in scope and purpose; never salvational.  The corrupt priesthood of Israel had made keeping the Mosaic Covenant necessary to keeping one’s salvation.  Therefore, justification became a process that included sanctification, rather than an event with sanctification as an outcome of surrender.  The Judaizers brought this corruption into Christianity and it has continued throughout the history of the Church in Catholicism and almost all Reformed churches in innumerable variations – salvation by grace plus works.    

1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. . . 13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. 16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law” (Galatians 5:1-4 and 13-18).

Galatians chapter five is certainly dealing with repentance unto sanctification as an outcome of genuine salvation.  The context is establishing that sanctification cannot be had by trying to obey the moral Laws of the Mosaic Covenant by the willpower of the “flesh.”  The word “liberty” is translated from the Greek word eleuthería (el-yoo-ther-ee’-ah), which means to be freed from slavery.  

“The Law” (Mosaic Covenant) simply restrained the believing sinner without empowering the sinner to obey.  In Galatians chapter five, the Apostle Paul addresses the issue of the Law as a “yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1), even for believers within the cursed creation.  Paul then introduces “liberty” from that “yoke of bondage” through God’s enabling “grace” through the indwelling Holy Spirit of God that accompanies salvation under the New Covenant “in Christ.” 

Therefore, genuine repentance is an understanding that the “flesh” is powerless to win the battle of temptation to sin.  Repentance is a change of mind and heart regarding from and unto.  Since a sinner’s “flesh” is powerless over temptation, a main emphasis of repentance in that repentance-understanding is turning away from trying to obey the Law in the power of the “flesh,” i.e. WILLPOWER SANCTIFICATION. 

1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh” (Galatians 3:1-3)?

Salvation cannot be acquired or kept by keeping the Mosaic Covenant (Galatians chapters one and two).  Neither can sanctification be acquired or kept by keeping the Mosaic Covenant (Galatians chapters three through six).  Genuine repentance then is understanding the word “liberty” to mean yielding to the empowering of the indwelling Spirit of God as the only way any sinner can deal with the lusts and desires of the heart in temptation.  This repentance transition of yielding the will to the Holy Spirit results in the inward transformational change of heart and mind as a manifestation of genuine repentance.  THE WANT TO IS CHANGED!  

Without this transition of the will to the Holy Spirit, by yielding to the empowering of the indwelling Spirit of God, repentance is false repentance resulting in mere reformational and external change that is without the empowering of God.  This is willpower sanctification is sanctificational externalism and spiritual legalism.

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Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.