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True Repentance, Part 5: The Fruit of True Repentance (2 Cor. 7:11)

March 10, 2010

Richard Sibbes described repentance as: “not a little hanging down our heads . . . but a working our hearts to such grief as will make sin [itself] more odious unto us than punishment, until we offer an holy violence against it.” Many can, upon grief over their sin, confess it to God and seek forgiveness. This may be genuine; however, it is not complete. The fruit of true repentance can clearly be identified in the way in which sin is forsaken. Often it involves a “radical amputation” (Mt. 5:29-30). Jay Adams says that forsaking sin involves: “1. A willingness to deny or say no (as Christ puts it) to selfish desires, either sinful in themselves or sinful as taking priority above Christ and His kingdom. 2. An actual breaking with the past practice, situation, or persons involved in the sin. 3. Setting up a structure that will make it difficult to fall into the same sin again.” This is the process of mortification.

Paul gave evidence of the fruit of true repentance in 2 Corinthians 7:11: “For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.” Paul commended the Corinthians for their 1) earnestness in having a serious and right attitude toward the grievous nature of their sin, and their 2) eagerness to clear themselves by rectifying their faults. He praises their 3) indignation and hatred of their sin and 4) fear of God and possibly him. Paul also rejoiced to see their 5) longing to be reconciled to God, and their 6) zeal for which they pursued Christ. Paul also commends their 7) punishment. This word is more appropriately rendered “vengeance, vindication, or desire to see wrong avenged.” It denotes the desire to make reparation and restitution for their sin. Each of these gives evidence to the genuineness of their repentance and should also be part of every Christian’s process of forsaking sin.

Going back to the example of Peter, he showed the authenticity of his repentance. Peter confessed his sin, returned to the disciples, and ran to the tomb when he heard that Jesus’ body was gone. When he saw Christ on the shore, he leapt from the boat and swam to him. He affirmed his devotion to Christ and willing obedience to shepherd God’s flock three times. And the rest of his life was lived, though not perfectly, in obedience to Christ as he proclaimed the gospel in the midst of opposition, beatings, imprisonment, and even death. Thus, unlike Judas, Peter proved his repentance to be true.

What does your repentance look like? Are you truly grieved over your sin? You you feel the same way about it that God does? Have you taken measures to keep yourself from falling back into it? Have you confessed it to everyone whom you have sinned against? Did you reconcile with them? Are you willing to accept whatever retribution is necessary to restore your relationship to God and to others? Are you zealously seeking Christ, or are you just trying to get yourself out of a difficult situation? Are you growing in intimacy with the Lord? Are you willing to follow Christ wherever he leads? I ask myself these types of questions daily. I pray that by God’s grace we all might put to death that which is earthly in us and put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, that which is pleasing to him (Col. 3:5-17). May we all seek the things that are above. May we delight in our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ (Col. 3:1-4). This can only be done through true repentance and faith.

Grace and peace,


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