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Truly Repentant Or Just Sorry For Getting Caught?

True Repentance Or Sorry For Getting Caught?

Welcome back. Today, we continue with Part 2 of our latest series; "God's Mercy - Why Do Some Get More Than Others?" See Part 1 for the full list of seven points described in "A Method To God's Mercy". We'll start today with Point 1) God only accepts true repentance. He looks at the heart and knows if it's real or not.

Proverbs 28:13(KJV) - He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

God bless America, the land of the free, the home of the brave. It's also a country where so many public figures lie, deny and hide any wrongdoing until the evidence against them is so overwhelming that they have no option but to confess. After initially denying any involvement in any discretion whatsoever they end up with their backs against the wall. At that point, they suddenly claim to be sorry for what they've done, the people they've hurt and the trust they've abused.

After sometimes years of denial they instantly strike a tone of true penitence as they are forced to face the consequences of their actions. However, as many of us may have already figured out, some of them are not repentant at all, they're just sorry for getting caught. Why? Before their sins were exposed to the world they had no desire to stop what they were doing wrong. That's exactly what God sees and that's the criterion He uses to choose whether or not to show mercy.

Joel 2:12-14(NKJV) - “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm. Who knows if He will turn and relent, And leave a blessing behind Him— A grain offering and a drink offering For the Lord your God?

Why did God tell those people not to rend their garments anymore? In those days people would tear their clothes as an outward display of repentance. Apparently, many were doing it as a mindless, religious exercise and God was having none of it. If His people were truly sorry for what they had done, He needed to see it in their hearts. They needed to be saddened by their sins. Their hearts needed to be broken for breaking His heart. They needed to be real.

..... and cut! God had enough of the acting so He said; "I'm not impressed. Quit ripping your clothes and repent for real this time."

So what's true repentance anyway? In The Bible, the word "repentance" is the English translation of the Greek word "metanoia" which means "change of mind" and "to repent" is "to change one's mind for the better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one's past sins". Repentance is also a translation of the Hebrew word "nocham" which means "sorrow." Therefore, when someone truly repents there is an admission of guilt, a complete disdain for what was done, Godly sorrow and a brand new mindset concerning the issue. If any one of those were missing, it was not true repentance and God would not accept it.

Case Study #1 - King Saul (Israel's First King) - An example of what true repentance is not!

Truly Repentant Or Just Sorry For Getting Caught?

1 Samuel 15:10, 11, 20–29; 16:1 (NLT) - Then the Lord said to Samuel, “I am sorry that I ever made Saul king, for he has not been loyal to me and has refused to obey my command.” Samuel was so deeply moved when he heard this that he cried out to the Lord all night..... Why haven’t you obeyed the Lord? Why did you rush for the plunder and do what was evil in the Lord’s sight?” “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul insisted. “I carried out the mission he gave me. I brought back King Agag, but I destroyed everyone else. Then my troops brought in the best of the sheep, goats, cattle, and plunder to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.” Then Saul admitted to Samuel, “Yes, I have sinned. I have disobeyed your instructions and the Lord’s command, for I was afraid of the people and did what they demanded. But now, please forgive my sin and come back with me so that I may worship the Lord.” But Samuel replied, “I will not go back with you! Since you have rejected the Lord’s command, he has rejected you as king of Israel.” As Samuel turned to go, Saul tried to hold him back and tore the hem of his robe. And Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to someone else—one who is better than you. And he who is the Glory of Israel will not lie, nor will he change his mind, for he is not human that he should change his mind!”..... Now the Lord said to Samuel, “You have mourned long enough for Saul. I have rejected him as king of Israel, so fill your flask with olive oil and go to Bethlehem. Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected one of his sons to be my king.”

Wow! King Saul had it rough. God kicked him off the throne and already picked his replacement. Come on, God, why didn't you forgive him? He said He was sorry, didn't he? What happened to your mercy that's everlasting? As we say in Trinidad, "Gih de man a bligh nah?" which means "Come on, give him a chance." If you have the time, why not read all of 1 Samuel 15 so you can understand what's really going on here. Whenever we question God's justice we do so from a position of ignorance. We know He is just so if we don't agree with His judgment it's because we don't know the whole story or we don't see it from His superior perspective.

1 Samuel 15:1-3(NLT) - One day Samuel said to Saul, “It was the Lord who told me to anoint you as king of his people, Israel. Now listen to this message from the Lord! This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has declared: I have decided to settle accounts with the nation of Amalek for opposing Israel when they came from Egypt. Now go and completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation—men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys.”

Those were King Saul's instructions and God was careful to be very detailed so there would be no confusion. When Saul was finished with the Amalekites they should have only been a memory. However, King Saul had a plan of his own. He destroyed what was worthless and kept the most valuable goods as well as the king. There was no room for error in this assignment from The Lord but somehow King Saul created some for himself. Let's study this account and squeeze some of the wisdom of God out of it by asking a few pointed questions.

Why didn't God have mercy on King Saul? In light of the definition of true repentance that I shared with you earlier was King Saul truly repentant or just sorry for getting caught? What was the first thing King Saul did when the prophet Samuel accused him of disobeying God? What was the second thing He did? Did He lie, deny and hide or did He confess right away? Let's take a closer look at this exchange.

Truly Repentant Or Just Sorry For Getting Caught?

Lie #1

1 Samuel 15:13-14(NLT) - When Samuel finally found him, Saul greeted him cheerfully. “May the Lord bless you,” he said. “I have carried out the Lord’s command!” “Then what is all the bleating of sheep and goats and the lowing of cattle I hear?” Samuel demanded.

Saul started things off with what we call a bold faced lie. He acted like he was naive and with a smile on his face told Samuel that he had obeyed The Lord. However, it looked like those sheep, goats and cattle wanted no part of the lie so they started making as much noise as they could. If Saul was about to go down they were not going down with him. I could imagine what they must have been saying in their animal language; "Baaah, Saul, you better stop lying! Mooo, Samuel, we're over here. Bleat, bleat! Get us out of this mess." Stop laughing, this is serious. 🙂 Let's continue watching this drama unfold. Since Saul was caught red handed I guess it was time for him to come clean, right? Check this out.

Lie #2

1 Samuel 15:15(NLT) - “It’s true that the army spared the best of the sheep, goats, and cattle,” Saul admitted. “But they are going to sacrifice them to the Lord your God. We have destroyed everything else.”

Whew, it's for a sacrifice? Now it all makes sense. Ok, everything's fine. For a moment, it actually looked like Saul disobeyed God but with an explanation like that surely God would be appeased or would He?

1 Samuel 15:16-19(NLT) - Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! Listen to what the Lord told me last night!” “What did he tell you?” Saul asked. And Samuel told him, “Although you may think little of yourself, are you not the leader of the tribes of Israel? The Lord has anointed you king of Israel. And the Lord sent you on a mission and told you, ‘Go and completely destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, until they are all dead.’ Why haven’t you obeyed the Lord? Why did you rush for the plunder and do what was evil in the Lord’s sight?”

As the lie left Saul's mouth, Samuel told him to be quiet. The Lord had compassion on Saul and reasoned with him asking him why did he disobey. This was a perfect chance for him to fall on his face and start crying. The game was over, he was caught. Just repent already.

Lie #3

1 Samuel 15:20-23(NLT) - “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul insisted. “I carried out the mission he gave me. I brought back King Agag, but I destroyed everyone else. Then my troops brought in the best of the sheep, goats, cattle, and plunder to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”

Saul insisted on lying again and that's when God dropped the hammer. It was over. He gave Saul three chances to repent for his sin and not once did he repent. He lied, denied and tried to hide but refused to repent. Do you realize that each time God accused Saul of sin, he tried to deflect it? Instead of taking responsibility for his actions he either lied, made excuses or blamed other people. That's not true repentance.

Saul's Judgment

1 Samuel 15:24-29(NLT) - Then Saul admitted to Samuel, “Yes, I have sinned. I have disobeyed your instructions and the Lord’s command, for I was afraid of the people and did what they demanded. But now, please forgive my sin and come back with me so that I may worship the Lord.” But Samuel replied, “I will not go back with you! Since you have rejected the Lord’s command, he has rejected you as king of Israel.” As Samuel turned to go, Saul tried to hold him back and tore the hem of his robe. And Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to someone else—one who is better than you. And he who is the Glory of Israel will not lie, nor will he change his mind, for he is not human that he should change his mind!

After attempting to lie his way through the entire process Saul eventually gave up but it was too little, too late. God was done with him! By the time Saul decided to confess his sins, God had already made up His mind and was not going to budge. He knew that Saul was only sorry for getting caught. As I said earlier, "When someone truly repents there is an admission of guilt, a complete disdain for what was done, Godly sorrow and a brand new mindset concerning the issue. If any one of those were missing, it was not true repentance and God would not accept it." Saul was missing all. God had no mercy to give him because he refused to repent.

When God chooses or refuses to show mercy to someone it's none of our business to question Him. There's always a story behind God's judgment and He doesn't owe any of us an explanation.

1 John 1:9(NLT) - But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

My friend, if God exposes your sin, don't make excuses, lie or try to cover it up, just repent and He will forgive you. It's really that simple so why do some us make it so complicated? Are you truly repentant or just sorry for getting caught? We'll continue from here next time.

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