Godly Repentance?

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Introduction

Recently I saw a bumper sticker on a car which read “Eden was vegan”. The thought which came to my mind which I will share with you is ‘yes, and so were the “carnal” Corinthians’.

1Co 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
1Co 3:2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

Spiritual “babes in Christ… are yet carnal [and] cannot receive… the things of the spirit”.

1Co 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

While we naturally want to get back to Eden and what we often refer to as “the good old days”, this is what the scriptures teach us:

Hos 11:1 When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.
Hos 11:2 As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images.
Hos 11:3 I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them.
Hos 11:4 I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.
Hos 11:5 He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return.
Hos 11:6 And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour them, because of their own counsels.
Hos 11:7 And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt him.

Israel simply would not repent and return to God. They would not exalt God because the exalting of God requires the death of our old man. It is God Himself who has made Israel and us all to be “wicked”, and He has done so for the very purpose of bringing us to bitter repentance.

Pro 16:4 The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.

What is “Godly sorrow [which] works repentance”?

Repentance from dead works is one of the milk doctrines mentioned in Hebrews six:

Heb 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
Heb 6:2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
Heb 6:3 And this will we do, if God permit.

We are admonished to “leave the principles of the doctrine of Christ [and] go on unto perfection”. But as I have been made painfully aware, going on unto perfection is for those who are ready to do that. Leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ and going on unto perfection is not an admonition to forget about those who are not yet ready to “leave the principles of the doctrine of Christ”. The Truth is that this verse in Peter complements these verses in Hebrews six:

1Pe 2:1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,
1Pe 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
1Pe 2:3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

How do “new born babes… taste the Lord [and know] that the Lord is gracious”? They do so only through “tast[ing] the Lord” who we are:

Act 22:7 And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
Act 22:8 And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.

So you and I are not only a “spiritual house” for God, we are also the physical flesh and bone of the Christ until this very day:

1Pe 2:4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
1Pe 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
Eph 5:30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bone.

Part of going on unto perfection is to be very careful to demonstrate for new born babes that the Lord is gracious, by realizing that we are not all at the same level of maturity, and that we must, with a very loving heart, bear with those who are desiring the sincere milk of the word, and never belittle them or do anything unloving which would ever make them feel any less a part of the body of Christ.

It was God’s mercy, as shown to each of us via His body, which in great patience has brought each of us to be where we are, so it behooves us to show that same patience and love to those who are coming along as “newborn babes in Christ”.

What Is The Spirit of A New Born Babe In Christ?

Here is what our Lord Himself tells us:

Mat 18:1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
Mat 18:2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
Mat 18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 18:5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
Mat 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Mat 18:7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

“Woe unto that man by whom the offence comes” is speaking of someone who offends “this little child” in Christ. “This little child” is anyone who has been dragged by the spirit to repent of his sins and comes to Christ with a humble and teachable spirit.
Here is how “this little child” presents himself to Christ:

Jas 3:13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
Jas 3:14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.

As Pilate asked Christ, “What is the Truth?” This is the answer to that very important question:

Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him [Philip], I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Joh 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Continuing in James 3:

Jas 3:15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
Jas 3:16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
Jas 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
Jas 3:18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

“Woe unto that man by whom offence comes” is not speaking of how we are to deal with the spirit of the scribes and Pharisees, or those who come to Christ and His doctrine with a belligerent and stubborn spirit. You and I, as our Lord Himself, can have a spirit which is “gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” and still be able to stand with our Lord, firm on the truth of the Lord’s Words. Here is how we should come across when we as humble, teachable children, before our Lord and His Word, encounter the belligerent spirit of the scribes and the Pharisees:

Mat 7:28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:
Mat 7:29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Christ taught His doctrine with authority, because He had the same mind His Father had. There was no “tolerance of the non-essentials” in His doctrine, because His doctrine has no non-essentials, and He taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes, who obviously did not come across to the people “as one having authority.
Christ has not changed. If indeed we are “Jesus of Nazareth” as Christ says we are, then we will speak His words with His same authority and with “the meekness of wisdom” with which He spoke His words.

Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

We must conclude that the doctrine of Christ is to be spoken with “the wisdom that is from above [which] is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy”, and is at the very same time spoken with authority. We are told that meekness is inherent in wisdom, but it is manifest by Christ speaking as one having authority, and that meekness is never to be confused with weakness.

The Different Types of Sorrow

Repentance is the fruit of being sorry for having made a mistake. There are two totally different types of sorrow which are mentioned in the scriptures, and they are both mentioned for our admonition. Both are ours to know and to experience. Both types of sorrow are contrasted in these verses of 2Corinthians:

2Co 7:9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
2Co 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
2Co 7:11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

The Sorrow of The World

“The sorrow of th[is] world” is the sorrow we feel when we are caught red-handed, and we are forced to publicly acknowledge our sin. The apology is always the same. It is always something like, ‘I am sorry for anyone who has been hurt by my indiscretions’, which we generally read as ‘I am sorry that I got caught’, and then, as soon as the spotlight is off for a few hours, we go right back to repeating the exact same indiscretions for which we had just apologized. There is no Godly sorrow or real repentance involved, and we go right back to our wallow in the mire. To speak with “the meekness of wisdom” we must never belittle any apology before we see the “fruits, meet for repentance”, or the returning to the wallow in the mire, which we all do before we are brought kicking and screaming against our own will to true Godly sorrow which works repentance. God alone knows whether any apology is heartfelt and sincere, but “the sorrow of this world works death”.

We have many Biblical examples of ‘the sorrow of this world’, like that of Balaam the prophet and that of King Saul. Both of these men are types of what is within the flesh of our own old, first man Adam, but I will reference only the example and type of King Saul.

Through Samuel, the last judge over Israel, God had sent King Saul to destroy the Amalekites; men, women, and even their cattle and herds. The Amalekites had ambushed Israel while they were wandering in the wilderness, and God is telling us that He wants us to completely and utterly destroy anything that hates Him and His within us. As King Saul our old man is given the opportunity to die to his own lusts and be a Godly leader by diligently adhering to God’s directions and instructions which were very clear, just as God’s instructions are very clear to us. But like King Saul, we all think it will be just fine if we take it upon ourselves to parse God’s words and decide for ourselves that God’s words are just simply too strict and completely unreasonable, cruel and wasteful. If we obey God, we know fully well everyone is going to call us a calloused, unreasonable, cold-hearted fanatic, So we do what we think is right and reasonable, and we cannot understand why God is so upset with us for simply doing what the whole world considers to be a better way of serving God.

Here is what we are told about our own natural mind and how it conflicts with the mind of God. This is how and why we find Godly sorrow which works repentance to be so very elusive:

1Sa 15:12 And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place [Hebrew: yâd – a monument], and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal.
1Sa 15:13 And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD.
1Sa 15:14 And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?
1Sa 15:15 And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.
1Sa 15:16 Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the LORD hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on.
1Sa 15:17 And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?
1Sa 15:18 And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.
1Sa 15:19 Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD?
1Sa 15:20 And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.
1Sa 15:21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal.
1Sa 15:22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
1Sa 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
1Sa 15:24 And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.
1Sa 15:25 Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD.
1Sa 15:26 And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel.
1Sa 15:27 And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent.
1Sa 15:28 And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou.
1Sa 15:29 And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.
1Sa 15:30 Then he said, I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD thy God.
1Sa 15:31 So Samuel turned again after Saul; and Saul worshipped the LORD. 1Sa 15:32 Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past.
1Sa 15:33 And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.
1Sa 15:34 Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house to Gibeah of Saul.
1Sa 15:35 And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.

Our faults and weaknesses which we consider to be great mountains, are to God mere molehills, but what we consider to be mere molehills, are really spiritual mountains which we don’t even see as such while as we ignoring and reinterpreting our Lord’s words more to our liking. Our Lord has given us His commandments and His statutes, which He has designed to keep us, His church, which is His body, a united, healthy functioning body, with but one mind, His mind, free of any spiritual diseases. If we obey His words and His doctrine in the verses we will be reading, we will, as His body, be united, be of one mind, and be of one spirit, and thus we will remain protected from the spiritual diseases of spiritual Egypt, and from the corrupting power of the leavening doctrines of the Pharisees and of the outside world.
Here is the promise we have been given:

Exo 15:26 And [the Lord] said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.
Mat 16:5 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.
Mat 16:6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
Mat 16:7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.
Mat 16:8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?
Mat 16:9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
Mat 16:10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
Mat 16:11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?
Mat 16:12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. [The doctrines of Babylon].
Mar 8:15 And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.

If we will “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod” and we will “diligently listen to the voice of the Lord [our] God, and will do that which is right in His sight, and will give ear to His commandments, and keep all of His statutes, [we have been promised that He would] put none of [the spiritual] diseases upon [us]” with which He has afflicted all of “that great city which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, wherein… our Lord was crucified”.

Rev 11:8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city [the Babylonian religions of this world], which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

That is simply asking too much, and if you or I even reference those verses, it doesn’t matter that we teach that we can do nothing, we cannot even sin of ourselves, we will still be accused of teaching salvation by works and not of faith. Nevertheless we must listen diligently to our Lord and this is what He tells us:

Rom 7:17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Rom 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
Rom 7:19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Rom 7:20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Rom 7:21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
Rom 7:22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
Rom 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
Rom 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Rom 7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Here now are the commandments and statutes “which are right in His sight” which we are instructed to do and obey in order to remain spiritually healthy and avoid the spiritual diseases of spiritual Sodom and Egypt. Here is what our Lord has given us to assure our spiritual heath and well being and unity. These are His commandments and His statutes which He has given us to keep us all of one mind and one spirit, and keep us from becoming but one more daughter of spiritual Babylon:

Mat 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
Mat 18:16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
Mat 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

Is Christ serious about ‘let him be to you as a heathen man, and a tax collector’? Are those loving words coming from the mouth of our Lord?

Are we free, like King Saul and the people, to reason for ourselves that those are harsh, cold, divisive words which are simply unreasonable and offensive?

It is argued by those who have “the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod”, that anyone who actually takes it upon themselves to apply these words in the body of Christ is not acting in a forgiving and loving way. Besides, it is argued, “‘thy brother trespass[ing] against thee’ has nothing to do with doctrine, and has only to do with an offense which is committed against you personally.” Is that true? Do our Lord’s words here in Mat 18:15-17 refer only to trespasses which have nothing to do with doctrine?

If that is so, then why are we told to “take with thee one or two more that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word will be established”? This is speaking specifically of doctrine. How is it possible to offend a brother personally without disobeying the doctrine of Christ?

Here is what we are told about what trespass and transgression includes:

2Jn 1:9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
2Jn 1:10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
2Jn 1:11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

Any transgression is a deviation from “the doctrine of Christ” in Matthew 5-7 which begins to establish the words of His New Covenant. It is absurd to assert that you can trespass against your brother and not offend in doctrine. Exactly how is that accomplished?

So should we even expect Godly sorrow and repentance when we confront a brother who has trespassed against us? Listen diligently to what we are told:

2Co 7:9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
2Co 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

And what does “Godly sorrow unto repentance” look like when we are sincerely sorry and repentant for “transgressing and abiding not in the doctrine of Christ”:

2Co 7:11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

Godly sorrow unto repentance is never a cavalier matter. It is deep and heartfelt. “What carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! That is “Godly sorrow unto repentance”!

And why do we go to our brother with His fault? Is it to humiliate him? Is it to belittle and make him feel that he is less that we are?

2Co 7:12 Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you.
2Co 7:13 Therefore we were comforted in your comfort: yea, and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all.

Here is another way of say the same thing Paul just told these Corinthians was his reason for his admonitions to them:

1Jn 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

So when we see Godly sorrow which works repentance, we are witnessing the fruit of true Godly love of our brothers, which is demonstrated only by our obedience to His doctrine and His commandments which drag us to that repentance.
I will close with this foundational Truth:

2Jn 1:9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.

It is the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod which would have us believe that love and doctrine are at odds with each other. “He that abides in the doctrine of Christ, he [is the one who] has both the Father and the Son.” All who do not are nothing more than daughters of the great harlot Babylon the great.

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