In recent years, disasters have been growing more and more severe, such as earthquakes, plagues, fires, floods and so on. Many people have realized that frequent disasters are signs of the Lord’s return, and the Lord’s day is upon us. Thesaid, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). Clearly, only those who truly repent can be protected by God and avoid being destroyed in disasters. So, what’s true repentance? How can we achieve true repentance? Let’s explore this topic together.
What’s True Repentance?
The Repentance of the Ninevites
Speaking of true repentance, we have to mention how the Ninevites truly repented to God. When the Ninevites heard God’s words through Jonah, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4), they believed and obeyed God’s words and were willing to repent. The king of Nineveh also performed a series of actions of repentance: He laid aside his kingly status, removed his kingly robes, and sat in the ashes, and he also commanded both people and animals to fast, and led adults and children to confess and repent to God in sackcloth and ashes. The people of Nineveh showed true remorse in their hearts, resolving to turn away from their evil ways and abandon the violence in their hands. God examined their innermost heart, and finally changed His heart, not destroying them.
The Repentance of King David
King David’s experience of repentance is also recorded in the Bible. When Jehovah God sent Nathan the prophet to speak to David to make David aware of his sins of taking Bathsheba for his own and having Uriah killed, he was especially remorseful and hated himself, fasting and praying daily before God, repenting and confessing his sins and asking for God’s mercy. He prayed, “Return, O Jehovah, deliver my soul: oh save me for Your mercies’ sake. … all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears” (Psalm 6:4,6). When he grew old, his attendants chose an incredibly beautiful virgin to warm his bed, but David never touched her. From the matter of David’s repentance, we can see that he possessed a God-fearing heart, and that not only did he feel true repentance and abhorrence for his sins, he also had an expression of true repentance and underwent real change.
So, it is not difficult to see that true repentance is not as simple as confessing our sins and evil deeds to God in prayers, but depends on what we do and whether we have real change. Specifically, in order to achieve true repentance, we need to know what God’s attitude toward man’s sins is, and we should be aware of the essence and harm of our sins. Only in this way can true reverence and fear for God arise within us, and then we will feel true repentance and abhorrence from the bottom of our hearts for our sins, we will no longer walk the same old path as we have always done, and we will begin to make a change and become new people—only this is true repentance.
Reflecting on Whether We Have True Repentance
Reflecting on ourselves, have we achieved true repentance? Perhaps some people may say, “Before believing in the Lord, we would quarrel with others and argue on our own behalf when things happened to us, but now we are humble and have tolerance and patience with others. In the past, we were selfish and always considered our own interests alone, but now we have some love for others and can help and support them when we see they are weak. Are these external good deeds not instances of our true repentance?” However, have we ever considered how long we can persevere in repenting in this way? In fact, we can realize that in our life, when our personal benefits aren’t at stake, we can be tolerant and patient with people and do not quarrel with others. When other people begin to infringe upon our interests or hurt our pride, however, we come to hate them, or even take revenge on them. Though we are humble outwardly, when others don’t agree with us, we always want them to listen to us, and although we don’t argue with them, we still hold on to our own ideas in our hearts and do what we want. Besides, we will also tell lies, deceive others, lose temper, reveal our hot-headedness, and envy others. Even though we often pray and confess our sins, this is just a verbal admission, and is not abhorrence or disdain for our sins that we feel from the bottom of our hearts. So, we will make the same old mistakes in some situations, living in a vicious circle of sinning in the day and confessing in the evening and having no real change. The Lord Jesus said, “For a good tree brings not forth corrupt fruit; neither does a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit” (Luke 6:43–44). Matthew 3:8 says, “Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance.” Reflecting on our actual expression, we can see that what we bring forth is sinful fruit and we haven’t achieved genuine repentance and change, which shows we still live in sin and don’t have true repentance at all.
Our Sinful Nature Causes Us to Fail to Truly Repent
Maybe some people will ask, “Our sins are forgiven for we have accepted the Lord Jesus’. But why do we still live in sin and fail to achieve true repentance?” Let’s read two passages of God’s words and then we’ll understand this question.
God says, “For all that man may have been redeemed and forgiven of his sins, it can only be considered as God not remembering the transgressions of man and not treating man in accordance with his transgressions. However, when man, who lives in a body of flesh, has not been set free from sin, he can only continue to sin, endlessly revealing his corrupt satanic disposition. This is the life that man leads, an endless cycle of sinning and being forgiven. The majority of mankind sin in the day only to confess in the evening. This way, even though the sin offering is forever effective for man, it will not be able to save man from sin. Only half the work of salvation has been completed, for man still has a corrupt disposition.” “The sins of man were forgiven, and this is because of the work of God’s crucifixion, but man continued to live within his corrupt satanic disposition of old. This being so, man must be completely saved from his corrupt satanic disposition, so that his sinful nature may be completely extirpated, never to develop again, thus enabling the disposition of man to be transformed. This would require man to grasp the path of growth in life, to grasp the way of life, and to grasp the way to change his disposition. Furthermore, it would require man to act in accordance with this path, so that his disposition may gradually be changed and he may live under the shining of the light, so that all that he does may be in accord with the will of God, so that he may cast away his corrupt satanic disposition, and so that he may break free from Satan’s influence of darkness, thereby emerging fully from sin. Only then will man receive complete salvation.”
From God’s words we can see that the reason why we still sin and can’t achieve true repentance is because we have satanic sinful nature. As we know, the Lord Jesus, according to the needs of man in that age, did the work of redemption, became a sin offering for humanity by means of the crucifixion, and relieved man from the curses and condemnation of the law. Therefore, as long as we confess and repent our sins to the Lord, then our sins are forgiven, and we are then fit to enjoy His abundant grace. However, the Lord Jesus only absolved us of our sins, but He hasn’t absolved us of our sinful nature. And the satanic dispositions deeply rooted within ourselves like arrogance and conceit, selfishness and baseness, crookedness and deceitfulness and greed and evil, still remain within us and they are the source of our sinning. If we can’t rid ourselves of these corrupt dispositions, we will frequently sin and resist God in spite of ourselves. This is an undeniable fact. That is to say, if our sinful nature and the source of our sin can’t be resolved, no matter how long we have believed in the Lord, we still can’t achieve true repentance or stop sinning, and we will never enter God’s kingdom.
How to Achieve True Repentance
So, how can we achieve true repentance? The Lord Jesus prophesied, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come” (John 16:12–13). “He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). The Bible prophesies, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17). It can be seen from these verses that there are many truths that the Lord Jesus hadn’t told us when He did His work. Because the people of that time had only just been redeemed from being subject to the law and were of small stature, all they could do was to be aware of their sins and then confess and repent, and any deeper truth concerning changing their corrupt dispositions was simply beyond them. So, the Lord Jesus promised us that He would return in the last days, express the truth we didn’t understand before, and judge our sins, so that we can escape our corrupt dispositions and achieve true repentance.
Now the Lord Jesus has become flesh and returned. He expresses all truths to purify and save mankind and does the work of judgment starting with God’s house to utterly uproot the cause of mankind’s sins, so that people can achieve true repentance and change, and no longer sin or resist God. This fulfills the Lord Jesus’ prophecy, “And if any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:47–48). Then how does God use words to do the judgment work to purify us and allow us to achieve true repentance? Let’s read a passage of God’s words.
God’s words say, “In the last days,uses a variety of truths to teach man, to expose the essence of man, and to dissect the words and deeds of man. These words comprise various truths, such as man’s duty, how man should obey God, how man should be loyal to God, how man ought to live out normal humanity, as well as the wisdom and the disposition of God, and so on. These words are all directed at the essence of man and his corrupt disposition. In particular, the words that expose how man spurns God are spoken in regard to how man is an embodiment of Satan, and an enemy force against God. In undertaking His work of judgment, God does not simply make clear the nature of man with a few words; He exposes, deals with, and prunes over the long term. These methods of exposure, dealing, and pruning cannot be substituted with ordinary words, but with the truth of which man is utterly bereft. Only methods such as these can be called judgment; only through judgment of this kind can man be subdued and thoroughly convinced into submission to God, and moreover gain true knowledge of God. What the work of judgment brings about is man’s understanding of the true face of God and the truth about his own rebelliousness. The work of judgment allows man to gain much understanding of the will of God, of the purpose of God’s work, and of the mysteries that are incomprehensible to him. It also allows man to recognize and know his corrupt substance and the roots of his corruption, as well as to discover the ugliness of man. These effects are all brought about by the work of judgment, for the substance of this work is actually the work of opening up the truth, the way, and the life of God to all those who have faith in Him.”
In the last days, God expresses the truth to make people achieve true repentance. His words reveal in total clarity our satanic nature of resisting and betraying God, our attitudes toward God and toward the truth and our wrong pursuits in our belief, and dissect our actions and innermost thoughts. Like a double-edged sword, God’s words pierce our hearts, and make us know the root of our sinning and see clearly the truth of our corruption at the hands of Satan, allowing us to recognize how our nature and substance is full of arrogance, self-conceit, selfishness, and treachery. We know clearly God’s requirements, but we are always controlled by these satanic dispositions, rebelling against God and resisting God against our will, and unable to practice the truth, so we have become the embodiment of Satan. Facing God’s judgment and chastisement, we have been utterly convinced by God’s words, we prostrate ourselves before God, and begin to hate ourselves and curse ourselves, and thus we have true repentance. Meanwhile, we also sense profoundly thatis the truth, it is all the revelation of God’s disposition and what the life of God is. We see that God’s righteous disposition does not tolerate offense, and that the essence of God’s holiness does not tolerate blemishes. The result is that a heart that reveres God is born, and we begin to seek the truth with all our might, and to behave according to the . Following our gradual understanding of the truth, we know more and more the satanic nature and satanic disposition of ourselves, and we also know God more and more. Gradually, we can practice the truth to make up for our past transgressions, and then our corrupt dispositions can be purified. We will gradually escape the bonds of sin, no longer be controlled by satanic corrupt dispositions, no longer do evil or defy God and we will be able to truly obey and worship God, and achieve true repentance. Thus, accepting God’s judgment work in the last days is the only path for us to achieve true repentance.
Now, God’s judgment work is nearing its end, and all kinds of disasters occur one after another, so we don’t have much of a chance to repent. At this crucial moment, only by accepting God’s judgment work in the last days can we escape sins and achieve true repentance. Otherwise, our dream to enter the kingdom of heaven will never be realized.