Hackham 1.6.1997 F.J.R.
Acts 17:16 - 31.
Proverbs 28:13. Whosoever confesseth his sin and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
"Repent" is the translation of a Greek verb metanoeo, meaning to have another mind, to change the mind, and is used in the N.T. to indicate a change of mind in respect to sin, God, and self.
Confession of sin is absolutely necessary for Salvation. But confession of sin alone does not mean an automatic receipt of forgiveness. God searches the heart and weigheth the spirit. I do not want you to deceive yourselves with popular sayings like "Yes I am a born again Christian" or "Yes, I have taken Jesus as my personal Saviour, and that’s the reason I am saved". Not once will you find any New Testament Saint making such a statement. Chances are, that you are not saved at all. You have been religionized into an appropriate package with all the right answers.
Repentance is not preached too often, one objection is that the Gentiles never received the Law and therefore only need to believe to be saved. Our text in Acts 17 of course would instantly discredit that because Paul was preaching to Greeks, (Gentiles) when he said that God hath commanded all men everywhere to repent.
The other objection is that if repentance is preached then there might have to be a change in lifestyle, repentance shows an acknowledgement of wrongdoing, error and guilt. But I intend to show you from the Word of God that confession of sin does not guarantee the mercy of God or Salvation by the blood of Christ. There are many who make a confession before God, and yet receive no blessing. There is something missing and I’ll tell you what it is. The evidence, that the confession is the work of the Holy Spirit.
Our text, therefore, is three words spoken by different men and you will see the results are as far apart as heaven and hell, as life and death. The three words are: "I have sinned".
In the Book of Exodus 9:27 you will find Pharaoh, King of Egypt, Ruler of the then largest empire in the world saying these words: "I have sinned". Verse 27, 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". I can tell you what happened, the Lord commanded Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go, but Pharaoh cast the commandment of God to the wind. I believe Pharaoh was a little boy spoiled rotten, and he grew up into a big boy spoiled rotten. Like Frank Sinatra with his song "I have done it my way", Pharaoh was brought up with the idea that only his will and word was ever to be obeyed and no one else. For as long as Pharaoh could remember things were done the way he wanted to do them. Everything went his way. He wasn’t going to be told by some Hebrew how to run his empire. He was on the throne not Moses, and this God that Moses was talking about: "Who is He that I should obey Him?" Ex.5:2. Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go.
Pharaoh lived his life in contempt of God, and when confronted with the direct command of God, he refused to obey. What you see here in this chapter is the consequence of Pharaoh’s sin, the direct result of his disobedience to the command of God, and what does Pharaoh see? Hail, and fire mingled with hail, thunder and lightning such as was never seen before since Egypt became a nation. There was devastation to the land and to the people. With terror struck into the heart of Pharaoh he sends for Moses and Aaron and says: "I have sinned". Pharaoh’s confession is that of a hardened sinner. As soon as the rain and the hail and the thunder stopped Pharaoh sinned yet more and did not let the people go. (people in bunkers at air-raid time, sailors in the roughest seas,) You see Pharaoh’s confession of sin before God brought no forgiveness nor blessing in fact the hardened heart of Pharaoh, his wilfulness and contempt to the command of the Lord, set him on the course of destruction into which he went when he followed Israel into the Red Sea. Pharaoh and the entire Egyptian army perished. Be not like Pharaoh. Pharaoh thought he was somebody the fact is that without Christ the Saviour you are nobody. Harden not your heart Heb3:7-9.
"I have sinned" Mister Balaam said. Numbers 22:34.
Balaam was a perverse and double minded sinner. He had a direct command of God, Numbers 22:12 "And God said unto Balaam, thou shalt not go with them, (that is the princes of Moab) thou shalt not curse the people; for they are blessed. Balak the King of Moab bad sent for Balaam the Prophet to curse the people of Israel. Balaam was told not to go. But next morning comes and Balaam is off with the princes of Moab. Not until he is confronted by the Lord and his ass speaking to him does he register that he has disobeyed the command of God. Numb.22:34 "And Balaam said unto the angel of the Lord, I have sinned". Balaam could not curse the Israelites but like a diabolical plot, Balaam tells the King of Moab, well I cant curse them but you can entice them away from their God, and this the Moabites did. There was no repentance or forsaking of sin, Balaam continued to work against God. Numbers 31:16 Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord. 24000 people died in that judgement. The confession of Balaam’s sin brought no blessing instead he set on a path of tragedy and his end was not on the Lord’s side. Though he was a prophet 24:16, heard the words of the Most High, and saw the vision of the Almighty, verse 17, I shall see Him, but not now, there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and smite the corners of Moab. How privileged with a vision of the Saviour yet no repentance.
In Numbers 31:8 By God’s command an army of 12000 went out and slew the Midianites, the five Kings of Midian and who ? Balaam also, they slew with the sword. Why ? With all the revelations and visions he still was in the camp of the enemy.
"I have sinned". 1Samuel 15:24. Saul said to Samuel: "I have sinned".
Saul was confronted by Samuel the prophet regards the spoil of the battle. Saul was commanded to totally destroy man, woman, child and beast, but he didn’t. He kept the sheep and cattle under the pretence that he would use them for sacrifices. He rejected the commandment of the Lord. Look at the result, 15:26 For thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee from being King over Israel. His confession of sin was of no value. Look at Saul’s life and you see him humoured by David playing the harp and the next he would throw a javelin at him. He would give his daughter to be David’s wife and then take an army and try and kill him. Like polar fox and hare, they change the colour of their coat with the weather. Saul was at home with the prophets and the witches. Saul finished up to perish on his own sword, and confession of sin brought no blessing or change of life.
I could tell you about Achan, who confessed and said: "Indeed, I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done." But Achan was stoned to death the very same day. How would you know if it was a genuine confession that brought forgiveness? You don’t. Is it not better to see a demonstration of one who confessed his sin and is genuine in a change of life, and habit, and character ?
What about Judas ? Matthew 27:4.
Judas also said " I have sinned". Judas the traitor, he betrayed his Master, and when he saw that his Master was condemned, he repented, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders saying: "I have sinned, in that I have betrayed innocent blood, and cast down the pieces in the temple and went out and "what???" confess his sin and forsake them? Oh, no, Judas confessed his sin and went out and hanged himself. Repentance of despair. Confession of sin but no blessing. Judas made an end to his life on earth, he could do no greater sin no matter how long he lived. He could not trust the Master who loved him. This is the greatest sin you can commit here on earth, to reject the one whom God has sent. Because of the resurrection of Christ, God has commanded all men everywhere to repent, because he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness that man whom he hath ordained; concerning which he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he raised him from the dead.
I cannot leave you with such tragic confessions. I must tell you of repentance that brings blessing. True repentance is seen in the story that was told by our Lord himself. In Luke 15:18 The story of the prodigal son who says: "I have sinned. I will arise and go to my Father, and will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee." You see there is determination to make an end of his sin, his former life, a change of direction, He arose and came to his Father. Here is confession of sin, forsaking of sin and untold blessings at the Father’s house.
Repentance is to heartily justify God and condemn ourselves. Repentance is not just the recognition of what we do or have done, but a realization of what we are. Not what we do but what we are. Sinners by nature and practice, and the only way to get out of that nature is to respond to the command of God to obey the Gospel . 1Tim.1:11 THE GOSPEL OF THE GLORY OF THE BLESSED GOD. The Gospel of His sovereign grace. The New Testament teaches us that sin brought about the death of the Son of God on the cross of Calvary. The cross of Christ teaches us of what we are. Unregenerate, we too would have joined with the Jews and say "away with Him". But God in His mercy send Him to take our place. The Lord Jesus told us the story that two men went up to the temple to pray and the tax collector, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. The Lord Jesus tells us that this man went to his house justified. He received of God’s mercy and forgiveness. Notice the tax collector did not lament what he did, but what he was, a sinner. No need to do penance, for there is no more sacrifice for sin. The Lord Jesus has already provide Himself as that sacrifice for sin and sinners. His sacrifice is valid for whosoever will that is determined to follow the Saviour. If you are fair dinkum about Salvation come to the Saviour and there will be future that will transcend this world and this life. Call on the Lord where you can obtain mercy, forgiveness of sin and peace with God.