I. WHAT IS REPENTANCE?
A. It is to be so sorry for what you have done that you change.
1. It isn't just being sorry, but sorry enough to change.
2. There are many who are sorry for what they have done, for the hurt and anguish that their actions have brought on themselves and others, but have not really repented for what they have done.
3. If you would conduct a poll in the state prison, I believe that 99% of the inmates would declare they were sorry, however most of them are not sorry for what they did, but sorry that they were caught, when released, so many will go right back to the things that put them away to begin with.
4. The scripture tells us that godly sorrow worketh repentance.
B. Repentance is necessary if you ever want to enter the kingdom of heaven. You must have such a sorrow for your sin, that you turn away from it.
1. Jesus spoke to the people who had reported to Him how that Pilate had spilled the blood of some of the Galileans while they were offering a sacrifice and mingled their blood with the blood of their sacrifices. Matthew tells us:
And Jesus answering said unto them, Do you think that these Galilaeans were the worst sinners among the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?
I tell you, Nay: and, unless you repent, you shall also perish.
Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and killed them, think that they were the greatest sinners in Jerusalem?
I tell you, Nay: and, unless you repent, you will also perish.
C. It is interesting that the first word of the gospel is repent. This is the first step toward salvation.
1. Matthew tells us the of ministry of John the Baptist:
In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
And saying, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
2. Speaking of the beginning of the ministry of Jesus he said:
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
D. To repent is to change.
1. There is a change of heart that brings a change of attitude, that results in a change of actions.
2. John the Baptist called for the people to bring forth fruit that demonstrated their repentance.
3. I think that this is one of those difficult things in life and in relationships.
a. Often a person will treat say their spouse in a very abusive way until their husband of wife just tire of the abuse and decide to leave.
b. The abusive person at this point in seeing what their attitude and actions have produced, declare their sorrow, and promise to change.
c. Forgiveness and reconciliation takes place and for a time things seem to go well, but then there is a lapse back into the same abusive patterns.
d. This has a way of repeating until the offended party has decided that they do not want to spend the rest of their life in the intolerable situation and file for divorce and gets a restraining order against any contact from the offending party.
e. When the offending party realizes that this time they went too far and the other is serious about separation, they know that the promise to change will fall on deaf ears, so they come to a pastor and want us to intercede for them. "Pastor please call them and tell them I've really changed."
f. This is where John is saying bring forth fruit that shows repentance.
E. True repentance is not shown in words, but in deeds.
II. IN THE STORY OF JACOB AND ESAU, WE HAVE AN INTERESTING EXAMPLE OF SIGNS OF REPENTANCE BUT NOT A TRUE REPENTANCE. ESAU WAS CRYING WITH A GREAT AND AND EXCEEDING BITTER CRY.
A. Crying is often a sign of repentance. Many times it displays a godly sorrow that leads to repentance. But as we see in the story, you can shed tears and cry with an exceeding bitter cry, and not have true repentance.
B. The story is of twin brothers who are as opposite as two persons can be.
1. One is an outdoorsman, and the other is a mama's boy, a gourmet cook.
2. One day the outdoorsman came in from a hunting trip weak and starving. His brother had cooked up some tasty lentils.
3. He asked his brother for some of the lentils, to which he replied, "I will trade you my lentils for your birthright..." for the outdoorsman was the first born.
4. Birthright meant nothing to him, those were religious things and he was too involved in sports to care about religion.
5. He was a man ruled by his flesh, and right now he was hungry, so what did he care for the birthright, so he agreed.
6. His desire for fleshly things exceeded his desire for spiritual things.
a. There are many today who like Esau are governed by the lusts of the flesh rather than by the things of the spirit.
b. They will gladly sell their heavenly birthright for a mess of pottage.
c. Solomon observed that a whorish woman can bring a man to a crust of bread.
d. Jesus asked, "What will a man give in exchange for his soul?" And I am always shocked at what a person is willing to accept from Satan in exchange for his eternal soul. A few moments of fleshly pleasure; a few extra dollars.
e. Again Jesus asked, "What would it profit a man, if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" Your soul is so valuable, it is worth more than the wealth of the whole world. Look at how cheap some are selling their soul for.
f. With Esau he was willing to sell his spiritual birthright for a bowl of soup.
C. With the birthright went the blessing to the firstborn. However again the flesh comes into play, for Isaac the father was willing to give the birthright that had been sold, to the elder son anyhow, if the elder son would only fix him some bar-b-qued venison. His love for venison will supersede his desire to follow God's will.
1. Even before their birth God had announced that the elder would serve the younger.
2. Isaac would seek to change this, for when he was blessing Jacob thinking that he was blessing Esau, he declared,
Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee:
3. No wonder Isaac when he discovered that he had been deceived trembled exceedingly. He was going to allow the desires of his flesh for savory meat to over rule the purpose and plan of God.
D. It is at this time that Esau when he discovered that his brother had received the blessing began to cry with an exceeding bitter cry.
1. The cry was for the lost blessing that he had years earlier sold the rights to.
2. It is interesting that all of the crying could not avail to bring him the blessing.
E. In the book of Hebrews we have an interesting commentary on this story. Chapter 12:14 Let me give you a free translation
Make every effort to live at peace with all men, and live a holy life, for without holiness, no one will see the Lord.
Be careful that you do not miss out on the grace of God and do not let a root of bitterness develop for it will only cause trouble and defile many.
Do not become sexually immoral, or godless like Esau, who for a bowl of soup sold his rights to the blessing that went to the eldest son.
Later, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Though he shed many tears they were not tears of repentance, but tears of sorrow for the lost blessing.
1. Note that his tears were not tears of repentance, he found no place for repentance.
2. They were tears for the lost blessing. It was the fact that he lost the blessing that he wept. But all of the tears could not bring him the blessing.
3. I think of the description that Jesus gives to us of those in hell, where Jesus said that there would be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.
4. The weeping and wailing will be over the lost blessing. The folly of selling out the birthright for a mess of pottage, for the temporal pleasures of the flesh. The thought that your folly cost you your place in the kingdom of God.
5. People want the blessing of eternity in heaven with the Lord, but do not want to live in fellowship with Him now, because it requires the denial of sensual pleasures.
6. All the bitter tears shed in hell can not bring you the blessings of heaven.
7. If you do not love Him enough to live in fellowship with Him now, why would you want to live with Him forever?
8. You may want to live by your own rules, but God sets the rules.