Remember back in grade-school when one kid got into a fight with another kid and then the teacher later tried to make each kid say they were ‘sorry’ to one another, and how the two kids then scowled at each other and mockingly said ‘sorry’ in unison? (In other words, the two kids SAID they were “sorry” but they didn’t truly MEAN IT in their HEARTS?!)
Well, I really hate to admit this but I was actually ONE of those “kids” in the 4th grade! And at the time, I thought I was so “justified” in my actions……the girl had been bullying ME first, and so I bullied her right back, which eventually led to a one-time physical confrontation on the playground in which I shoved her to the ground. The teacher (perhaps in vain?) tried to make us both say we were “sorry” to one another afterwards, but ofcourse we weren’t, at the time!
This is a PRIME EXAMPLE of what I call “Face-Value” Repentance……..It is a SPOKEN/VERBAL repentance but NOT LITERAL!
If we turn through the pages of the bible, we see SEVERAL examples of “Face-Value Repentance”. Let us examine a few:
“And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time: the LORD is righteous, and I and my people are wicked. Intreat the LORD (for it is enough) that there be no more mighty thunderings and hail; and I will let you go, and ye shall stay no longer” – Exodus 9: 27-28
“Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against the LORD your God, and against you. Now therefore forgive, I pray thee, my sin only this once, and intreat the LORD your God, that he may take away from me this death only.” – Exodus 10: 16-17
“Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears” – Hebrews 12: 16-17
Now……what do ALL of these “Face-Value Repentances” have in common (including my very OWN during the time of 4th grade?) Answer: each and every individual in these cases KNOWS deep, deep down within their spirit that they’ve “done wrong in the name of the Lord” but….THEY WON’T ADMIT IT AND/OR THEY DON’T CARE!
They’re “pridefully arrogant” in their sins and even feel “JUSTIFIED” in their sins:
“And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord” – 1 Samuel 15:13 and….verse 20…..”And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites“
“Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land. Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses” – Exodus 1: 8-11
And these Old Testament characters are really no different than many “Christians” out there, TODAY. They “say” or “claim” they are sorry, but they are NOT “truly sorry” with tears, repentance and mourning.
What does truly “mourning” over one’s sin(s) mean? Let us turn back to the bible to find out!
Psalm 51 of King David declares:
“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. Deliver me from blood guiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.”
So in other words, David was grieved of his sin, not ONLY by his OWN accord, but by the LORD’S ACCORD! In other words, he was grieved at his HEART! (In other words, he was grieved in his heart, knowing how, in his own sin, he had BROKEN the “heart” of God!)
This is the polar opposite of Esau, who only became sorry after he “got caught” by his father for selling his birthright to Jacob! And if you think about it, that’s really no different than today’s “celebrities” saying “sorry” in the news media for this or that. But one really has to wonder. Are they really, TRULY sorry or just “sorry they got caught?” If they had NEVER gotten caught, would they have still partaken of that “sin”?
However, when King David in the Old Testament said he was “sorry”, he TRULY meant it! That’s WHY the bible calls him “a man after God’s own heart”. In other words, King David was mourning the fact that he knew he had pierced God’s “heart” with his unrighteous SIN! And did King David try to cling to his sin, as though it were a secret beloved pet? No! Ofcourse not! He wanted his sin FAR REMOVED from him! Because he didn’t want to do anything that he knew, from that point on, that would break God’s heart! In fact, he cared more about God’s heart than his own, I’d bet to say!
TODAY’S men and women (specifically Christian men and women) are after their OWN “hearts!” They often think, “what’s best for ME? How is this going to benefit ME?“ They ALSO oftentimes think, “Yeah well, I don’t NEED to apologize for this or that because God ALREADY knows I’m sorry, for he knows all things!“ Or they ASSUME someone they NEED to apologize to ALREADY knows they’re “sorry”, when that personally can’t be further from the truth!
True, GENUINE repentance means to feel SO BAD about something, that you feel spiritually sickened to your stomach about it……..SO GRIEVED that you feel like metaphorically cutting out your insides with GREAT SHAME………SO GRIEVED…that you’d do almost anything to change it (whatever sin you’ve committed/been committing). In other words, it’s a TRUE change of heart.
On the other hand, face-value repentance is just putting on a “show”. For example: A person gets caught cheating on their spouse. And oh, how “sorry” they are, and oh how they promise “they’ll never do it again”. But these types of “apologies” only go so far. What will the cheat-ER do once the cheat-EE (the spouse being cheated on) becomes “too trusting” again? Are they really, TRULY sorry or only “sorry because they got caught”?
One thing that ALL people will have in common that get thrown into the lake of fire someday (Revelation 20:15) is either that they are NOT truly sorry for all their bad deeds they’ve done throughout their lifetime OR will try to “claim” (before God) they’re sorry (but aren’t TRULY sorry, only sorry they “got caught”). In other words, they’ll be the epitome of “face-value repentance”.
On the flipside, the very few people who DO make it into the Lamb’s Book of Life (God’s record book of all his FAITHFUL servants) will have what’s called GENUINE REPENTANCE. They will be sorry NOT ONLY for the hurt they’ve caused themselves and others but for the major hurt they’ve caused to GOD ALMIGHTY *HIMSELF!* They’ll be grieved at their very hearts over the “broken heart” of God over their sin(s)!
Signs a person is TRULY sorry/repentant:
1). They realize just how “damaging” the sin(s) are to themselves and others and to Almighty God
2). They pray to the good Lord to remove the sin(s) from their life
3). They work about in ways in order TO banish the sin from their life (ex: an alcoholic will stop drinking, a drug addict will work to become clean, a person with severe anger issues will get some anger-management counseling, etc.)
Signs a person is NOT truly repentant/sorry:
1). They stop the behavior “once caught” but then quickly take back up the behavior again “when no-one’s looking”
2). They don’t see their “sin” AS sin or as “bad” of a sin as it SHOULD BE
3). They cry tears of pain, saying or claiming how sorry they are, but then immediately take back up the behavior once God/people around them have forgiven them for “said behavior”
I hope this will help you distinguish true, genuine repentance from “face-value repentance”. In other words, a person can APPEAR in the face to be “most grieved” over their “sin”, but the inside of their spirit may feel otherwise!
In other words, the inside of their SPIRITS may be saying, “ah, come on, it wasn’t/it’s not THAT bad!” while the outward expression on their face might say, “Oh, please forgive me, O how sorry I AM!”
Looks can be deceiving. So be forewarned. If a person says they’re sorry, make sure they actually mean it. And if YOU yourself say you’re sorry to God and to others, make sure that YOU actually mean it!
May this post serve as a lesson to us ALL (myself included). Amen.