Weekly Devotional / 8-26-19 Sincere Repentance
Recently I was talking with a friend about repentance. As we chatted, he cited a prayer that many of his faith recite ritually believing that such a recital brings forgiveness of sin and restoration to a right standing before God. We talked about this for some time and concluded that prayers, recited no matter how many times when prayed without sincerity, may bring a sense of relief from guilt but does little to bring actual forgiveness or restoration of right standing before God. Sincere repentance is qualified by recognizing that one has sinned against God having a desire to cleansed of it.
Jesus’ parable about the Pharisee and the publican is a great illustration of what it truly means two repent. Jesus said: “10 Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men–extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:10-14 NKJB). The publican who prayed from the heart was sorrowful over his sin, was sincere, and sought forgiveness. A change had previously been wrought in this man’s heart; not so the Pharisee. That the publican went to his house, justified is proof of sincere repentance. Of the two men, the publican was genuinely repentant of his sin and sought forgiveness.
Repentance that is of the saving nature brings recognition of sin and a desire to be forgiven. One who continually recites a prayer but then goes out and sins habitually, in the same way, is not sincere. Repentance, after all, is one of the things that the Holy Spirit brings about in the life of the one who has come to Jesus in faith.
Transforming Power; The Work of God on Behalf of Man