WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
MARCH 4, 2021
TOPIC: FALSE REPENTANCE
BY T. O. BANSO
“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7 New King James Version).
In one’s relationship with God and fellow human beings, there is a difference between genuine repentance and false repentance.
Being sorry for one’s sin is not the same as genuine repentance. Weeping, apologizing, kneeling or prostrating, pleading, and promising not to do the same again does not necessarily mean that one has truly repented. One could express other emotions which would only amount to false repentance.
Some people only feel sorry, weep, apologize and do similar things just because they have been caught or their sins have been exposed. It could also be because of the punishment they want to escape. Such people might not appreciate the evil and gravity of their sins and have no desire and commitment to change. But for selfish reasons, they put up an attitude that gives the impression that they have repented. They could apologize for their sins but have no hatred for sin and, therefore, would still repeat it.
2 Corinthians 7:10a says godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted. Those who have truly repented experience godly sorrow that leads to salvation. They don’t feel sorrowful because of the fear of punishment or so that they will not forfeit some benefits through demotion, suspension, expulsion, and similar actions.
God is asking from the sinner genuine repentance and faith in His son, Jesus Christ, not false repentance. Sinners will go to hellfire not because of their sins but because of their failure to repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 3:9b says God is not willing that anyone should perish but that all should come to repentance. The Greek word translated repentance in that scripture is metanoia, which means a change of mind, and in this context, a change of mind, from evil to good, and from disobedience to obedience. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7 New King James Version).
Repentance is not just feeling sorry or remorseful for one’s sin but an admission of sin, and an end of the sinful behavior. Jesus said he did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Matthew 9:13). Repentance must lead to a change of mind and hatred for sin. Repentance sometimes requires restitution. For example, someone cannot say that he/she has repented of stealing and is still enjoying what he/she has stolen.
Pharaoh, in the Bible, is an example of false repentance. He disobeyed God’s command to allow the children of Israel to go and serve Him. Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, nor will I let Israel go” (Exodus 5:2 New King James Version). Despite all the plagues God brought upon the land of Egypt, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened.
At a point, he began to engage in false repentance, pleading with Moses to entreat God to remove one plague after another with the promise each time to allow the Israelites to go. No sooner than a plague was removed than Pharaoh would harden his heart. He was not truly repentant; he only wanted each plague to be taken away.
In Exodus 8:8, Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, “Entreat the LORD that He may take away the frogs from me and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice to the LORD” (New King James Version). Unless there was a truly a change of mind, that could not be called genuine repentance.
His false repentance became evident in verse 15 after the plague in question had been ended “But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not heed them, as the LORD had said” (New King James Version).
Also, in Exodus 8:28, Pharaoh asked Moses to intercede for him concerning another plague and he would let the Israelites go to sacrifice to the LORD in the wilderness but they shouldn’t go very far away. But after Moses had entreated the LORD and He removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh and his servants and people, Pharaoh hardened his heart again and would not let the people go (verse 32). Pharaoh did not genuinely repent; he only wanted to escape punishment. This is the usual disposition of people whose repentance is false.
Pharaoh continued this pattern of false repentance, making a fake promise to allow the Israelites to go. Exodus 9:27-28 says, “And Pharaoh sent and called for Moses and Aaron, and said to them, ‘I have sinned this time. The LORD is righteous, and my people and I are wicked. Entreat the LORD, that there may be no more mighty thundering and hail, for it is enough. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer’” (New King James Version). Did he keep his word this time? No.
Verses 34-35 say, “And when Pharaoh saw that the rain, the hail, and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet more; and he hardened his heart, he and his servants. So the heart of Pharaoh was hard; neither would he let the children of Israel go, as the LORD had spoken by Moses” (New King James Version).
Pharaoh continued his insincerity, masking it in religious language. “Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste, and said, ‘I have sinned against the LORD your God and against you. Now therefore, please forgive my sin only this once, and entreat the LORD your God, that He may take away from me this death only” (Exodus 10:16-17 New King James Version). But nothing changed in Pharaoh’s behavior as soon as the plague was removed. He hardened his heart and he did not let the children of Israel go (verse 20).
But Pharaoh’s cup was filled to the brim eventually. God brought upon the land of Egypt the last plague, the death of all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, including the firstborn of Pharaoh, of the female servant, and of the animals (Exodus12:29-30).
This broke Pharaoh’s backbone. He allowed the Israelites to go by force, not that he repented. Because after they had left, he sent his chariots with the captains to pursue them and bring them back (Exodus 14:5-9). But they all perished in the Red Sea (verses 24-30).
Don’t try to be clever before God. Let your repentance be genuine, not fake. God sees your heart. He knows when your repentance is genuine or false. He knows that you just want to escape his wrath, not necessarily that you have hatred for sin.
The LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7b). Proverbs 21:2 says, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the hearts” (New King James Version).
On two occasions, Saul flagrantly disobeyed the LORD. The first time was when he offered an unlawful sacrifice (1 Samuel 13:1-15). He didn’t repent or ask for forgiveness. In the second instance, he engaged in false repentance. He even reduced it to a personal issue between himself and Samuel and begged Samuel to forgive him.
1 Samuel 15:24-25 says, “Then Saul said to Samuel, ‘I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, please pardon my sin, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD” (New King James Version). He asked for Samuel’s pardon, but what of the LORD’s forgiveness?
He was more eager to worship the LORD when he had not received the LORD’s forgiveness. Therefore, one could say that the reason he admitted his sin was so that Samuel would go with him to worship the LORD. Verses 30-31 say, “Then he said, ‘I have sinned; yet honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD your God.’ So Samuel turned back after Saul, and Saul worshiped the LORD” (New King James Version).
Was that genuine repentance? Saul was more interested in looking good before men rather than before God. Initially, he had lied to Samuel that he had obeyed the LORD. Saul said, “Blessed are you of the LORD! I have performed the commandment of the LORD” (1 Samuel 15:13 New King James Version). He only admitted that he had not obeyed God to the letter after Samuel had asked him about the bleating of the sheep and the lowing of the oxen he was hearing (verse 14).
Saul didn’t behave like David when Prophet Nathan confronted him with his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband, Uriah. David admitted that he had sinned before the LORD and Prophet Nathan immediately told him that the LORD had put away his sin (2 Samuel 12:13). David’s repentance wasn’t false like Saul’s. Saul only wanted to worship the LORD. Samuel never said the LORD had forgiven him.
Don’t play with sin. The soul that sins shall die (Ezekiel 18:4, 20). Whoever covers his sin shall not prosper but whoever confesses and forsakes his sin shall obtain mercy (Proverbs 28:13). Don’t cover your sin; repent and ask for forgiveness today. David says, “Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, ‘I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.’ And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone” (Psalm 32:5 New Living Translation).
If you’re not born again, repent of your sins today and accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. Whoever comes to Him, He will by no means cast out. If you’re a child of God, you can’t keep on sinning so that God can show him more and more kindness and forgiveness (Romans 6:1-3). With the power of the Holy Spirit, live a holy life. But if any child of God sins, he has an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1-2).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, I genuinely repent of my sins, especially the ones I have covered. I receive forgiveness today and the help of the Holy Spirit to live a holy life. I shall not engage in false repentance. Today, I forsake every sin I have repented of and will do what is right according to the Word of God in Jesus’ name.
(For over 400 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit: www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
WhatsApp No: +2349081295947