Dealing with false repentance
How many times have you heard
"Oh our Praise and Worship band are
great, our song leader is wonderful, the multi - media
is brilliant as well as all the new stage lighting at
our church. We're on the internet, God Tube, You Tube
and our pastor is on My Space, Face Book and Twitter!
Hey! Our pastor is so cool coz he wears tee shirt and
shorts, brings his starbucks on stage and he tells how
wonderful God thinks we are, from his laptop. He even
gets his talk done in ten minutes so that we are out of
there within the hour. That's why our church is so great
and so many more young people are joining every week."
Church got a majority of its so called "Christians"
who are not truly saved at all but are on their way
Why are these "Christians" so anti-righteousness
and feel as if it was a great impossibility to
become Holy living Christians? Why do they rely on
their eternal insurance policy of a "one time
sinner's prayer", "a false security message" as they
continue to act like unbelievers? A false
understanding of Grace!
They think it a great trial or theologically
impossible to give up their sins. Whereas, if they
had true repentance, they would not think it any
cross to give up their sins. This is all owing to a
mistake respecting the true nature of their
repentance. They do not understand that true
repentance leads to an abhorrence of those things
that were formerly loved. True "Saved" Christians,
feel an abhorrence for parties, and sinful
amusements, and the love for these things is
crucified within them.
You see now why convicted so called Christians are
afraid to pledge themselves to give up their sins.
They love them.
These "Christians" tell you they dare not promise to
give up sinning, because they are afraid they shall
not keep the promise. There you have the reason.
They love sin. The "Christian" drunkards knows that
they love drink, and though they may be constrained
to keep their promise and abstain from it, yet their
appetite still craves it. So it is with the
convicted sinner. He feels that he loves sin, that
his hold on sin has never been broken off, and he
dares not promise. These "Christians" will tell you
that you are legalistic if you confront them with
the necessity of living a holy life and giving up
sin. They will tell you that, and watch the
misquote, "that they are not under the law but under
grace and that Jesus has paid for all of their sins,
past present and future, even the ones that they
have committed since they have been "born again"
and, as they have "given themselves to Jesus", then
they believe that God will forgive them, turn a
blind eye and that He actually doesn't see their
post salvation sin.
spare not, lift up your voice as a
trumpet and shew my people their
transgression and the house of Jacob
their sins. Isaiah 58:1
False repentance produces
only a partial reformation of conduct.
The reformation that is produced by worldly sorrow
extends only to those things of which the individual
has been strongly convicted. The heart is not
changed. You will see him avoid only those cardinal
sins, about which he has been much exercised.
Observe that young convert. If he is deceived, you
will find that there is only a partial change in his
conduct. He is reformed in certain things, but there
are many things which are wrong that he continues to
practice. If you become intimately acquainted with
him, instead of finding him tremblingly alive to sin
every where, and quick to detect it in every thing
that is contrary to the spirit of the gospel, you
will find him, perhaps, strict and quick-sighted in
regard to certain things, but loose in his conduct
and lax in his views on other points, and very far
from manifesting a Christian spirit in regard to all
The individual is continually relapsing into his old
sins. The reason is, the disposition to sin is not
gone, it is only checked and restrained by fear, and
as soon as he has a hope and is in the church, and
gets bolstered up so that his fears are allayed, you
see him gradually wearing back, and presently
returning to his old sins. This was the difficulty
with the house of Israel, that made them so
constantly return to their idolatry and other sins.
They had only worldly sorrow. You see it now every
where in the church. Individuals are reformed for a
time, and taken into the church, and then relapse
into their old sins. They love to call it getting
cold in religion, and backsliding, and the like, but
the truth is, they always loved sin, and when the
occasion offered, they returned to it, as the sow
that was washed to her wallowing in the mire,
because she was always a sow.
These people are awakened, and convicted, and by and
by they get to hope and settle down in false
security, and then away they go. Perhaps, they may
keep so far on their guard as not to be turned out
of the church, but the foundations of sins are not
broken up, and they return to their old ways. The
woman that loved dress loves it still. The man who
loved money loves it yet, and soon slides back into
his old ways, and dives into business, and pursues
the world as eagerly and devotedly as he did before
he joined the church.
Go through all the departments of society, and if
you find thorough conversions, you will find that
their most besetting sins before conversion are
farthest from them now. The real convert is least
likely to fall into his old besetting sin, because
he abhors it most. But if he is deceived and worldly
minded, he is always tending back into the same
sins. The woman that loves dress comes out again in
all her glory, and acts as she used to. The fountain
of sin was not broken up. They have not purged
iniquity from their heart, but they keep iniquity in
their heart all the time.
Their reformation produced by a false repentance is
not only a partial reformation, and a temporary
reformation, but it is also forced and constrained.
The reformation of one who has true repentance is
from the heart; he has no longer a disposition to
sin. In him the Bible promise is fulfilled. He
actually finds that "Wisdom's ways are ways of
pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." He
experiences that the Saviour's yoke is easy and his
burden is light. He has felt that God's commandments
are not grievous but joyous. More to be desired are
they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter
also than honey and the honey-comb. But this
spurious kind of repentance is very different: it is
a legal repentance, the result of fear and not of
love; a selfish repentance, any thing but a free,
voluntary, hearty change from sin to obedience. You
will find, if there are any individuals here that
have this kind of repentance, you are conscious that
you do not abstain from sin by choice, because you
hate it, but from other considerations.
Modernised Excerpts from Finney
Can you tell the difference
between a Christian and a non-Christian? If you can't
well it is because that person has not experienced true
repentance is founded in selfishness
It may be simply a strong feeling of regret, in the mind
of the individual, that he has done as he has, because
he sees the evil consequences of it to himself, because
it makes him miserable, or exposes him to the wrath of
God, or injures his family or his friends, or because it
produces some injury to himself in time or in eternity.
All this is pure selfishness. He may feel remorse of
conscience--biting, consuming REMORSE--and no true
repentance. It may extend to fear--deep and dreadful
fear--of the wrath of God and the pains of hell, and yet
be purely selfish, and all the while there may be no
such thing as a hearty abhorrence of sin, and no
feelings of the heart going out after the convictions of
the understanding, in regard to the infinite evil of
I am to show how this false or
spurious repentance may be known.
It leaves the feelings unchanged.
It leaves unbroken and un-subdued the disposition to sin
in the heart. The feelings as to the nature of sin are
not so changed, but that the individual still feels a
desire for sin. He abstains from it, not from abhorrence
of it, but from dread of the consequences of it.
If you are willing to give up sin, you are willing to
promise to do it and willing to have it known that you
have done it. But if you resist conviction and still
love your sins, all your convictions will not help you.
They will only sink you deeper in hell for resisting
Let us pray that this is the evidence that our
repentance is genuine: "For behold this selfsame thing,
that ye sorrowed after a Godly sort, what carefulness it
wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea,
what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement
desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things
ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter"
(2 Corinthians 7:11).
The unsaved sinner things it
utterly incredible that sin deserves everlasting
death. He may be fully changed, however, to see
that sin injures himself and everybody else and
that there is no remedy but universal
abstinence. Even the devil knows this is true.
The word rendered "repentance" implies a change
of opinion in regard to the just outcome of sin.
The careless sinner has almost no right ideas
about the just punishment of sin. Even if he
admits; in theory, that sin deserves eternal
death, he does not believe it. If he believed
it, it would be impossible for him to remain a
careless sinner. He is deceived if he supposes
that he honestly holds the opinion that sin
deserves the wrath of God forever.
The truly awakened and convicted sinner sees
clearly that sin deserves everlasting punishment
from God. To him it is simply a matter of fact.