There are two parts to repentance. First, there is a turning away from sin and sinful ways. Then, secondly, there is a turning towards God. Often repentance is incomplete in that the sinner may have turned away form his sin or sinful ways but he has fallen short of turning towards God. In other words, he has not turned a full 180 degrees. Nothing short of that is acceptable. Even if he has turn 179 degrees, He is still going his own way.
Repentance is usually incomplete when it is motivated by a guilty conscience. A guilty conscience may cause a person to confess his sins to God. But once the sin has confessed, the sense of guilt diminishes. What then will move him to repent of that sin he has just confessed to?
Without the conviction of the Holy Spirit, we would likely end up in a “witch hunt” – fanatically seeking out sins in our lives and confessing every one that we think is a sin but may not necessarily be. This reminds me to the times that we have conducted “house cleansing”. Usually, Christians would go around the house to identify objects that are occultic in nature: anything with a dragon on it, a horoscope, a talisman, etc. Some times, out of our zeal, we end up destroying antic furniture worth a lot of money.
Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin, judgment and righteousness (John 16:8). He will first convict you of your sin. And if that’s not enough, he will also convict you of judgment – the just judgment that you deserve for your sin. This will move you to confess your sins to God. Finally, he will convict you of righteousness; that is, the need to walk right with God. This is repentance: turning away from sin and towards God.
What is worse than incomplete repentance is no repentance at all. A sinner may have said the Sinner’s Prayer but never repented. He continues on his own way and merely attaches to himself, what I call, Christian ornaments – like those found on a Christmas tree. A tree is a just a tree. But when Christmas ornaments are hung on it, you would immediately say “Its a Christmas tree!”. Likewise, when we see someone who does what a Christian typically does, we conclude that he is a Christian. But is he? Is he born again?
This article is part of my teaching The Normal Christian Birth. Contact me if you wish to receive the full teaching.
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