Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Difference between Repentance, Godly Sorrow, and Reconciliation

Repentance has been redefined by many to mean feeling sorrow for having sinned.  But as good as godly sorrow is, the actual repentance is the actions that godly sorrow leads one to take.  Paul stated plainly that godly sorrow produces repentance (2Cor. 7:10); he never said that sorrow for one’s sin is repentance itself.
This is why John the Baptist told people who were convicted by his preaching to go do deeds that reflected godly sorrow for sin (Lk. 3:10–14).  He knew they did not understand how to repent, and so, he defined repentance for them:

Luke 3
10. And the crowds asked him, saying, “What, then, shall we do?”
11. He answered and said to them, “He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none, and let him who has food do the same.”
12. The tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”
13. And he said to them, “Exact nothing beyond what has been mandated to you.”
14. And even the soldiers asked him, saying, “What about us?  What shall we do?”  And he said to them, “Don’t extort money or harass anybody, but be content with your wages.”

When men came to be baptized by John who felt no godly sorrow and had no heart to repent, John rebuked them, refused to baptize them, and commanded them to go and “bear fruit worthy of repentance” (Mt. 3:8).  Paul, likewise, warned men to “do works meet for repentance” (Acts 26:20).  Indeed, no true man of God has ever taught that merely feeling sorry for sin is repentance.  They all told people that if they regretted sinning and wanted forgiveness, they had to do something with those feelings, and in both the Old and New Testaments that “something” is called repentance.
Reconciliation is another issue.  Reconciliation may take place when we go to a person that we have wronged and repent, but it is also possible that reconciliation will not take place, for that wronged person may not be willing to forgive me for my wrongdoing.  In that case, I have repented, but he and I are not reconciled.  My repentance was not our reconciliation.  Those who repent have no control over how another person will respond to their repentance, and so, reconciliation cannot be defined as repentance; it is only a possible fruit of it.

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