Confession Follows Repentance




In this age of grace, where the forgiveness and mercy of God is so freely received by His children, has the truth of repentance been forgotten in light of God’s free gift?  Has “confession” of sins come before repentance?  It is an easy thing to confess one’s sins before God, expecting forgiveness, but something entirely different to actually repent of sin simultaneous or preceding confession.


The Great Reformation era brought the world out of centuries of Catholicism and it’s indulgences, penance, and other “works” to attain salvation and forgiveness.  The cry of the reformers like Martin Luther was, “The just shall live by faith!”


In this century, Christians freely receive God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ.  Most believers understand the principle of the salvation and forgiveness, “which is not of works, lest anyone should boast”.  But in an age of permissiveness and instant gratification, are we, as Christians, deluded with a sloppy lifestyle of carelessness towards sin, all because God “forgives” us when we sin?


We all struggle with sin.  This is a part of our existence, and something every true Christian will struggle with.  Even those believers who don’t acknowledge sin in their life, it is there:


·         I John 1:8-10 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.  (NAS)


This study is not intended to bring people under condemnation.  We feel badly when we sin, and this is the consequence of our own actions:


·         Galatians 6:7-8  Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.  For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life.  (NAS)



Feeling Bad for Sin is Not Repentance


Feeling bad about sin won’t, in itself, change a person’s behavior.  Feeling badly about our sin can even lead to a sense of shame, which can result in feelings of condemnation.  Condemnation will lead to defeat more surely than one’s attempts to do the right thing.  Condemnation leads to spiritual defeat and a feeling of hopelessness, thus hindering us from becoming overcomers. 


We feel badly when we sin, but do we stop sinning?  Can we stop sinning?  Do we carelessly repeat our errors without giving God the proper place to convict us, and bring us to repentance before we glibly confess our sins?


Paul was inspired to write about his own struggle with sin, and the conflict within himself to do right.  To him (and us), this seesaw battle was the ultimate conflict of his soul!


·         Romans 7:19-8:1 For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish.  But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.  I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good.  For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.  Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.  There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  (NAS)


We have hope because Jesus Christ has paid the price for our sins.  But, do we confess our sins, only so we can feel better?  Or do we confess our sins out of heartfelt grief for what we have done, and for how it has affected God, and others?  This study will attempt to give insights into the true nature of repentance, and how we can make it a part of our forgiveness process.


An Old Testament Definition of Repentance


The Hebrew word “nacham” for “repent” is translated either as “to sigh, or breathe heavily” or “to console.”  We will deal with it’s primary application, “to sigh,” since this meaning is in relation to sin.


Repent” - 5162 nacham (naw-kham'); a primitive root; properly, to sigh, i.e. breathe strongly; by implication, to be sorry, i.e. (in a favorable sense) to pity, console or (reflexively) rue; or (unfavorably) to avenge (oneself): KJV-- comfort (self), ease [oneself], repent (-eringself,-,)  (Information from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)


The meaning of the Hebrew word translated as repentance (i.e. -  “nacham”) implies a sense of grief for one’s sin.  When we sin, and our conscience is affected, we sigh deeply within.  Our spirit becomes heavy, and our heart sinks.  We know we have displeased God, and there is a sense of grief for what we have done.  I believe this deep sigh is a part of the mechanism God has put within us to enable us to have a change of heart and mind to turn away from sin.



God Does Not Repent for Sin


Here are some examples from scripture which use the Hebrew word “nacham” translated repent:


·         Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent (nacham); has He said, and will He not do it?  Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?  (NAS)


·         1 Samuel 15:29 And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind (nacham); for He is not a man that He should change His mind (nacham).  (NAS)


God is not a man.  He does not sin.  Therefore, He has no need to repent of sin as a man, not change His mind toward sin as man does.


Repentance Involves Action


Job was a man who was upright, and walked in integrity.  But when God spoke to him regarding his attitude, Job acknowledged his sin in the presence of a holy God.  Job sighed heavily, grieving for his sin.  His outward behavior (dust and ashes) reflected the grief in his heart.  He was truly sorry, and had a change of heart regarding his own righteousness:


Job 42:1-6  Then Job replied to the LORD: “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.  You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’  Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.  "You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’  My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.  Therefore I despise myself and repent (nacham) in dust and ashes.”  (NIV)


Most Christians pale in comparison to a man like Job.  This is not to set Job up on a pedestal, and venerate him.  Rather, it is to reveal his integrity and spiritual character:


·         Job 1:8 And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job?  For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”   (NAS)


·         Job 2:3 And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job?  For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil.  And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to ruin him without cause.”   (NAS)


Job is a good example for us to follow, because his life was one of holding “fast his integrity” and “fearing God” by walking “upright” and “blameless.”


Dust and Ashes


·         Job 42:6 Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes."  (NAS)


Why Job’s response with “dust and ashes?”  What possible significance do these earthly elements have to do with Job’s repentant heart?  We can find part of the answer by examining what Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words says about the Hebrew word for dust:


Ashes” = `apar ^6083^, "dust; clods; plaster; ashes."  This noun represents the "porous loose earth on the ground," or "dust."  In its first biblical occurrence, `apar appears to mean this porous loose earth:  "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life..." (Genesis 2:7).  In Genesis 13:16, the word means the "fine particles of the soil":  "And I will make thy descendants as the dust of the earth...."In the plural, the noun can mean "dust masses" or "clods" of earth:


`Apar represents "finely ground material" in Deuteronomy 9:21:  "And I took your sin, the calf which ye had made, and burnt it with fire, and stamped it, and ground it very small, even until it was as small as dust: and I cast the dust thereof into the brook that descended out of the mount." 


`Apar can represent the "ashes" of something that has been burned: "And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them [outside] Jerusalem... and carried the ashes of them unto Bethel" 2 Kings 23:4.  In a similar use, the word represents the "ashes" of a burnt offering (Numbers 19:17).


The "rubble" of a destroyed city sometimes is called "dust":  "And Ben-hadad sent unto him, and said, The gods do so unto me, and more also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people that follow me" (1 Kings 20:10). 


In Genesis 3:14> the serpent was cursed with "dust" as his perpetual food (See Isaiah 65:25; Micah 7:17).


"Complete destruction" is represented by `apar in 2 Samuel 22:43:  "Then did I beat them as small as the dust of the earth: I did stamp them as the mire of the street...."


In Psalm 7:5, the word is used of "valueless ness" and "futility":  "Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; yea, let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay mine honor in the dust."


To experience defeat is "to lick the dust" (Psalm 72:9), and to be restored from defeat is "to shake oneself from the dust" (Isaiah 52:2).


To throw "dust" ("dirt") at someone is a sign of shame and humiliation (2 Samuel 16:13), while mourning is expressed by various acts of self-abasement, which may include throwing "dust" or "dirt" on one's own head (Joshua 7:6).  Abraham says he is but "dust and ashes," not really important (Genesis 18:27).


In Job 7:21 and similar passages, `apar represents "the earth" of the grave:  "For now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be."


This word is also used as a simile for a "widely scattered army": "...for the king of Syria had destroyed them, and had made them like the dust by threshing" (2 Kings 13:7).


(From Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright (C) 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)


Many truths regarding repentance can be seen in the outward action of dust and ashes:


1. Dust & ashes symbolize humility:


Man was formed from the “dust” of the porous earth.  Not man’s soul, but his flesh; his physical body.  The term “flesh” also represents death to the desires of man’s earthly nature.  Therefore, covering oneself with “dust” represents the acknowledgment before God that man is nothing but dirt without His imputed righteousness:


·         Romans 8:3-8 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.  For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  (NAS)


2. Dust & ashes symbolize the complete sacrifice of Jesus:


Dust represents "finely ground material."   This application in Deut. 9:21 refers to the burnt offering for sin being carried down the stream of God’s love and grace:  Jesus is the sacrifice which took away the sins of the world; He offered Himself up wholly to God the Father, as an offering for man’s iniquity.  Therefore, to repent in dust and ashes represents an acknowledgment that our sins have been finely ground up, and made ineffective, through the sacrifice of Jesus.


3. Dust & ashes represent ridding oneself of idolatry:


Apar can represent the "ashes" of something that has been burned, as in the case of the idols in the temple.  Using this application, to cover oneself with dust in the Old Testament would represent the acknowledgment there is no other God but the one true God.  The idols in our lives have been destroyed by fire when we truly repent.  The fire of God’s jealousy requires a single eye towards Him. His judgment will be all consuming when He confronts idolatry in our hearts.  The dust and ashes also represent an outward recognition of gratitude to God, with reverence and awe of who He is:


·         Deuteronomy 4:23-24  “So watch yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which He made with you, and make for yourselves a graven image in the form of anything against which the LORD your God has commanded you.  For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.”  (NAS)


·         Hebrews 12:25-29  See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking.  For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less shall we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.  And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying," Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven."  And this expression  "Yet once more," denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, in order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.  Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.  (NAS)


4. Dust represents the devil preying on man’s sinful desires:


The serpent was cursed with "dust" as his perpetual food.  True repentance involves putting away those things that the devil can use to destroy us. 


·         Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us  (NAS)


When the dust was spread on the outside of a person, it symbolized that inwardly that person was purging his heart of the unclean things that the serpent (Satan) preys upon.  It is not good enough to just clean oneself up outwardly, the inside must be made clean as well.  Outward religious facade won’t produce true repentance from sin:


·         Matthew 23:25-28  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.  You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.  Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”  (NAS)


·         Luke 11:39-42 Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.  You foolish people!  Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?  But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.  Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.  (NIV)


·         2 Corinthians 10:3-7 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.  You are looking at things as they are outwardly  (NAS)


5. Dust & ashes represent acknowledging the destructiveness of sin:


“Complete destruction” is represented by `apar in 2 Sam. 22:43.  Sin is destructive not only by virtue of what is does spiritually, but because it invokes the anger and judgment of God.  This is not a popular teaching, but one that every true believer must acknowledge to have the proper reverence for their walk before God:


·         Job 21:17  “How often is the lamp of the wicked put out, or does their calamity fall on them?  Does God apportion destruction in His anger?  (NAS)


·         Psalm 40:1-2 I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry.  He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay; and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.  (NAS)


·         Psalm 52:1-3 Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man?  The lovingkindness of God endures all day long.  Your tongue devises destruction, like a sharp razor, O worker of deceit.  You love evil more than good, falsehood more than speaking what is right. Selah.  (NAS)


·         Psalm 55:10-11 Day and night they go around her upon her walls; and iniquity and mischief are in her midst.  Destruction is in her midst; oppression and deceit do not depart from her streets.  (NAS)


·         Psalm 55:22-23 Cast your burden upon the LORD, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.  But Thou, O God, wilt bring them down to the pit of destruction; men of bloodshed and deceit will not live out half their days.  But I will trust in Thee.  (NAS)


·         Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.  (NAS)


·         Proverbs 17:19 He who loves transgression loves strife; He who raises his door seeks destruction.  (NAS)


·         Proverbs 18:12 Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, but humility goes before honor.  (NAS)


·         Romans 3:10-18 As it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.  Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; heir feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace have they not known..  There is no fear of God before their eyes.”  (NAS)


·         1 Timothy 6:9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.  (NAS)


6. Dust & ashes represent a recognition of the futility of sin:


In Psalms 7:5, `apar is used of "valuelessness" and "futility."  In Psalm 72:9 to experience defeat is "to lick the dust" and in Isaiah 52:2 to be restored from defeat is "to shake oneself from the dust.”  Sin is a futile and empty pursuit.  It never leads to happiness or peace.  Its allure is in its short-term momentary pleasure.  The long-term consequence, however, is always negative.  True repentance recognizes that to pursue sin, or continue in it, results in utter folly and futility:


·         2 Kings 17:15 And they rejected His statutes and His covenant which He made with their fathers, and His warnings with which He warned them.  And they followed vanity and became vain, and went after the nations which surrounded them, concerning which the LORD had commanded them not to do like them.  (NAS)


·         Proverbs 22:7-9 The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender's slave.  He who sows iniquity will reap vanity, and the rod of his fury will perish.  He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor.  (NAS)


·         Ecclesiastes 1:14-17 I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind.  What is crooked cannot be straightened, and what is lacking cannot be counted.  I said to myself, “Behold, I have magnified and increased wisdom more than all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has observed a wealth of wisdom and knowledge.”  And I set my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I realized that this also is striving after wind.  (NAS)


·         Ecclesiastes 2:1-3 I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure.  So enjoy yourself.”  And behold, it too was futility.  I said of laughter, “It is madness,” and of pleasure, “What does it accomplish?”  I explored with my mind how to stimulate my body with wine while my mind was guiding me wisely, and how to take hold of folly, until I could see what good there is for the sons of men to do under heaven the few years of their lives.  (NAS)


·         Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 And all that my eyes desired I did not refuse them.  I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor.  Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.  (NAS)


·         Ecclesiastes 2:21-23, 26 When there is a man who has labored with wisdom, knowledge and skill, then he gives his legacy to one who has not labored with them.  This too is vanity and a great evil.  For what does a man get in all his labor and in his striving with which he labors under the sun?  Because all his days his task is painful and grievous; even at night his mind does not rest.  This too is vanity.  For to a person who is good in His sight He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, while to the sinner He has given the task of gathering and collecting so that he may give to one who is good in God's sight. This too is vanity and striving after wind.  (NAS)


·         Ecclesiastes 4:4 And I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbor. This too is vanity and striving after wind.  (NAS)


·         Ecclesiastes 5:10 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity.  (NAS)


·         Ecclesiastes 6:9-12 What the eyes see is better than what the soul desires. This too is futility and a striving after wind.  Whatever exists has already been named, and it is known what man is; for he cannot dispute with him who is stronger than he is.  For there are many words which increase futility.  What then is the advantage to a man?  For who knows what is good for a man during his lifetime, during the few years of his futile life?  He will spend them like a shadow.  For who can tell a man what will be after him under the sun?  (NAS)


·         2 Peter 2:18-19 For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.  (NAS)


·         Ephesians 4:17-20 This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.  But you did not learn Christ in this way.  (NAS)


7. Dust & ashes represent an acknowledgment that sin equals spiritual death:


In Job 7:21 and similar passages, `apar represents "the earth" of the grave:


·         Job 7:21 "Why then dost Thou not pardon my transgression and take away my iniquity? For now I will lie down in the dust; and Thou wilt seek me, but I will not be."  (NAS)


Sin, or living in the flesh (i.e. the sinful cravings), creates animosity towards God.  True repentance acknowledges that hostility exists between God and man when man sins.  Sin brings a death that is a separation from God, while we are still alive.  And in the end it results in the natural death of man.  In fact, those who live as slaves to sin often have their natural life cut short:


·         Romans 5:12-14 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned--for until the Law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law.  Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.  (NAS)


·         Romans 5:17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.  (NAS)


·         Romans 6:16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?  (NAS)


·         Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (NAS)


·         Romans 7:5 For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.  (NAS)


·         Romans 7:9-11 And I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive, and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me.  (NAS)


·         Romans 8:6-8 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  (NAS)


8. Dust & ashes represent the humiliation & shame sin causes:


To throw "dust" ("dirt") at someone is a sign of shame and humiliation (2 Sam. 16:13), while mourning is expressed by various acts of self-abasement, which may include throwing "dust" or "dirt" on one's own head  (Josh 7:6): 


·         2 Samuel 16:13 So David and his men went on the way; and Shimei went along on the hillside parallel with him and as he went he cursed, and cast stones and threw dust at him.  (NAS)


·         Joshua 7:6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until the evening, both he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads.  (NAS)


Sin is a shameful thing; it brings humiliation.  Adam and Eve were ashamed in the garden after they had sinned, and tried to hide themselves:


·         Genesis 2:25, 3:6-8  And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed...When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.  And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God   (NAS)


Why did they hide themselves?  Because they were afraid of God’s presence.  Sin produces shame, which leads to fear, and fear causes us to hide ourselves from God.  Mankind was created to fellowship with God, but the devil, taking opportunity, deceived man into sinning, into disobeying the voice of God.  Ezra speaks with clarity regarding man’s humiliation and shame while living in sin:


·         Ezra 9:5-6 But at the evening offering I arose from my humiliation, even with my garment and my robe torn, and I fell on my knees and stretched out my hands to the LORD my God; and I said, “O my God, I am ashamed and embarrassed to lift up my face to Thee, my God, for our iniquities have risen above our heads, and our guilt has grown even to the heavens.”  (NAS)


The remorse we experience when we sin gives us a heavy heart and a feeling of regret.  This embarrassment would consume us were it not for the grace of God:


·         Ezra 9:8  “But now for a brief moment grace has been shown from the LORD our God, to leave us an escaped remnant and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our bondage.  (NAS)


Only God can revive us, and bring us out of the bondage of sin.  Now that we have considered various consequences of sin, which we reflect upon when committing iniquity, how can we truly repent?


Godly Sorrow


In Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth, he addressed their sins specifically and explicitly, rebuking them for their flagrant disregard of what God commands.  Now, upon hearing that his chastisement resulted in repentance, he writes a letter of commendation to them.


In the book of 2 Corinthians we see the pattern of what produces true repentance, leading to the confession of sins.  We also see that repentance continues on past the sin which was committed, to help us  live above the passions of the flesh that cause us to fall:


·         2 Corinthians 7:8-11 For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it - for I see that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while -  I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, in order that you might not suffer loss in anything through us.  For 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.  For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.  (NAS)


The Greek word for sorrow is “lupeo”.  Strong’s Exhaustive Dictionary gives us the following information:


Sorrow” = 3076 lupeo (loo-peh'-o); from 3077; to distress; reflexively or passively, to be sad: KJV-- cause grief, grieve, be in heaviness, (be) sorrow (-ful), be (make) sorry.  From a root word, “3077 lupe (loo'-pay)”; apparently a primary word; sadness.


Paul’s rebuke caused the Corinthians to be distressed over their sin; to be saddened by what it had done, and how it had ruined their walk with God and their relationship with each other.  But notice that their sorrow was only “for a while.”  This word is “hora” (where we get the English word “hour” from), and means a short period of time.  This should be good news to those who struggle with chronic sin problems.  God doesn’t want us to be distressed and saddened for long periods of time.  He has given us His grace and forgiveness through Jesus Christ, and He expects us to freely receive His gift of redemption by faith.



Repentance Precedes Confession


·         2 Corinthians 7:9-10   “ were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God...For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation...”


We get insight from Strong’s Exhaustive Dictionary regarding the word “repentance”:


Repentance” = 3341 metanoia (met-an'-oy-ah); from 3340; (subjectively) compunction (for guilt, including reformation); by implication reversal (of another's decision).  From a root word, 3340 metanoeo (met-an-o-eh'-o) meaning, “to think differently or afterwards, i.e. reconsider (morally, feel compunction).”


The Greek word ‘metanoeo’ comes from two primary root words: 


·         3326 meta (met-ah');  a primary preposition (often used adverbially); properly, denoting accompaniment;


·         3539 noeo (no-eh'-o) or noieo (noy-eh'-o); from 3563; to exercise the mind (observe), i.e. (figuratively) to comprehend, heed.


The full meaning of the Greek word, ‘metanoia’ for “repentance” means, “compunction (for guilt, including reformation); reversal (of another's decision).  To think differently or afterwards, i.e. reconsider (morally, feel compunction).”  We are to have an exercise of our mind accompanying our sorrow, or sadness over sin we have committed.  After we sin, repentance involves our thinking differently towards it; making a decision to reverse direction, and go the opposite way of sin.  We are to reconsider sin’s moral implications in our life, which includes a reformation of our ways.  This is what it means to repent.


The grief, distress and sadness we feel over sin, which is in accordance with the will of God, will produce compunction.  Compunction means to feel a certain amount of anxiety arising from the awareness of guilt; also distress of mind over the anticipated result of sin (what we reap as the consequence of sin).  This heartfelt and mindful awareness is in accordance with God’s will, and will result in salvation.  When we have come to this place of grief, and mental reflection, we have repented of our sin, and we should then confess our sin to God, resulting in salvation:


·         Romans 10:10-11 For with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.  For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed."  (NAS)



Things Which Accompany Repentance


In 2 Corinthians 7:11 we see a list of things that accompany repentance, because they are also the outgrowth of godly sorrow: 


·         2 Corinthians 7:11   “...what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.”


Below is a list of Greek words and their definitions from this verse, which show the manner in which godly sorrow produces repentance:


“What earnestness”


Earnestness” = 4710 spoude (spoo-day'); from 4692; "speed", i.e. (by implication) dispatch, eagerness, earnestness.  4692 speudo (spyoo'-do); probably strengthened from 4228; to "speed" ("study"), i.e. urge on (diligently or earnestly); by implication, to await eagerly;  4228  pous (pooce); a primary word; a "foot" (figuratively or literally):


·         2 Peter 1:4-11 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.  Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For he who lacks these qualities is blind or shortsighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.  Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.  (NAS)


“What vindication of yourselves”


Vindication” = 627 apologia (ap-ol-og-ee'-ah); from the same as 626; a plea ("apology"):626  apologeomai (ap-ol-og-eh'-om-ahee);middle voice from a compound of 575 and 3056; to give an account (legal plea) of oneself, i.e. exculpate (self)


·         1 Peter 3:14-17 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened."  But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.  It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.  (NIV)


“What indignation” 


Indignation” = 24 aganaktesis (ag-an-ak'-tay-sis); from 23; indignation.  23 aganakteo (ag-an-ak-teh'-o); from agan (much) and achthos (grief; akin to the base of 43); to be greatly afflicted, i.e. (figuratively) indignant.


·         Mark 10:13-15 And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them.  But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, "Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  "Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all.  (NAS)


“What fear”


Fear” = 5401  phobos (fob'-os); from a primary phebomai (to be put in fear); alarm or fright:


·         2 Corinthians 5:9-11   Therefore also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.  Therefore knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.  (NAS)


·         2 Corinthians 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.  (KJV)


·         Philippians 2:12-13 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.  (NAS)


“What longing”


Longing” = 1972 epipothesis (ep-ee-poth'-ay-sis); from 1971; a longing for.  1971 epipotheo (ep-ee-poth-eh'-o); from 1909 and potheo (to yearn); to dote upon, i.e. intensely crave possession (lawfully or wrongfully)


·         2 Corinthians 7:6-7 But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus; and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me; so that I rejoiced even more.  (NAS)


“What zeal”


Zeal” = 2205 zelos (dzay'-los); from 2204; properly, heat, i.e. (figuratively) "zeal" (in a favorable sense, ardor; in an unfavorable one, jealousy, as of a husband [figuratively, of God], or an enemy, malice); 2204 zeo (dzeh'-o); a primary verb; to be hot (boil, of liquids; or glow, of solids), i.e. (figuratively) be fervid (earnest).


·         John 2:15-17 And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the moneychangers, and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, "Take these things away; stop making My Father's house a house of merchandise."  His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for Thy house will consume me."  (NAS)


What avenging of wrong”


Avenging"1557 ekdikesis (ek-dik'-ay-sis); from 1556; vindication, retribution; 1556 ekdikeo (ek-dik-eh'-o); from 1558; to vindicate, retaliate, punish; 1558 ekdikos (ek'-dik-os); from 1537 and 1349; carrying justice out, i.e. a punisher. 


·         Luke 18:7-8 Now shall not God bring about justice for His elect, who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?  "I tell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"  (NAS)


·         Romans 12:16-21 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.  Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.  Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.  "But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head."  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  (NAS)


Selah...reflect on it!



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