Peter and I (Beau) had a chance today (on the Better Pleasure Podcast) to discuss the great English preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon’s view of repentance from a few sermons of his. This was in no way an exhaustive look into the vast work available on the web of Spurgeon’s sermons, but it was a good, clear sample.
Check it out if you get a chance below, after the blog.
At times Peter and I sense that many of the men we meet with weekly do not understand the term repentance very well. Or maybe they know the current usage of it in Church all to well! When most people think of an example of repentance, King David more often than not comes up. The famous Psalms 32 & 51 are the examples of his repentance. In turn the tune goes that King David repented of his sin of murdering his friend for his wife, and in turn was made brand new! Never to go back to the temptations of old self again. But is that really the case? No. Kind David had a rough go even after the intense evil he did with killing Uriah. He still had his wives and his concubines, and he certainly missed the mark when it came to protecting his daughter Tamar against his son Amnon. We are not told exactly what King David’s sex life was like after the event with Bathsheba, but the Psalms mentioned above, especially 51, is to be taken as a repentance of the sin with Bathsheba only. My reasoning is because we don’t read of him saying, “hey God, cleanse me from murdering all those people in the past, and sleeping with all those ladies and having concubines and all.” Some believers have such a problem with this failure of David that they say it was OK for him, and those of the Old Testament, to engage in the sex slavery of the day! Why would people say such things? Because this word repentance, I believe, is sorely mis-understood. Repentance today is taught as being finished with a sin, no longer to go back. Also it is the idea that now you are going towards God; and if to God, then not back to the sin again. Well, if that really is the case. Then anytime you repented of a sin, you would never go back to it! That means there would be no need to ask God a second time for forgiveness for the same sin. So confusing does this get that some even have used Hebrews 6:4-6 to suggest that if you fall away, then you cannot be brought back to repentance. Yep, if you fall away after knowing Jesus, you cannot come back to repentance! But if that was the case, then Jesus is wrong in Luke 17
“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”
And why give an alter call at a Church for those that have fallen away to come back to the Lord, when from Hebrews 6, they cannot! There is obvious need for clarification. But there is at most times none within Sermon culture. And so this education seeps in to those that attend. Over and over it goes.
The effects of this are tremendous, but rarely would one know if they are not involved in people’s recovery, counsel or accountability.
Many in the Church do not think they can ever be changed like there “leaders” are. There under an illusion that he is all done with the big sins. He may sin a bit with his pride (just a little), or maybe he might think his anger got the best of him when driving in traffic that day, but the deep greed, envy, lust of those listening, he certainly does not have. I mean he needs to be above reproach right! I am being somewhat sarcastic now. But you can see where the lack of seeing repentance as a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly pursuit of the Christian puts the word (repentance) far away from the average Church goer from ever achieving. Why? Because they sin over and over. And if they do happen to not go back to a sin again, there is a certain worse sin that oozes out of us called self righteousness. It is far worse that the one that left, for it hides itself in religious jargon & ritual. This is where the Pharisees in Jesus day found themselves. It’s not like they meant to get there on purpose. It simply is what happens when fear runs the heart. Fear of man, fear of not being seen as a leader who has it all together. When I think of fear in my heart, I cringe. I am a coward to it. I know it, and must confess it to the Lord daily. I wonder if what makes David a man after God’s own heart is that he was OK with this kind of honesty before God and the humiliation it could have among the nation of Israel. David was a fragile man in so many ways. Depression crushed him to the point of being paralyzed. He lusted and killed in ways many of us cannot imagine a leader to do. Yes he was an instrument of judgement on the enemy’s of Israel. But in no way was he a perfect instrument. Self righteousness prevents any of us from seeing our inner condition.
I was with a friend the other day (not a believer) and he commented that he thinks people are initially evil in the heart. I said to him that what he just said was quite Biblically accurate! He said, “really?” I said, “absolutely.” He was surprised. Why? Frankly, he does not see Christians as being of the kind that express there depravity or sin condition. We have hidden it well from the world. So much, that all they see is self righteousness. As believers we tend to believe that at one point we were sinners and unable to come to God, but now that we have repented and are saved, we are pretty good. Those that think they are better than others will segregate from the, “others.” Do we? Yes I do.
Jesus experienced this when a lady of ill repute went into a home he was at. It happened to be a highly religious mans home whom had invited Jesus to a meal gathering. Think of it as a BBQ. And in the middle of the feasting time, an interruption takes place. She comes in un-announced and simply weeps over Jesus feet. Everyone is embarrassed, and in my heart I know I would have been too. That diabolical sin of self righteous pride wanted nothing to do with this women and her interruption with there “spiritual” time with the Master. How many times am I frustrated at a person for there interruption of my spiritual experience or service? Too much.
Repentance is seen once again in this Jesus event. Both parties could have said they had repentance. The religious group touted there repentance by saying they do not sin like that woman (it’s in the past), yet the women repented by declaring I am a sinner just like you men! She did not think she was any greater than those in the room. She saw things in Windex like clarity before Jesus. Clearer than the religious men apparently. And in the same way, this is really what King David seems to get right in his life. He can see things in clear reality before God. He layed it out as this prostitute did. Both saw that before God they were nothing but sick. And this came out in tears and heavy hearts…broken and contrite hearts. But never do we get the idea that they stayed clear of sinful inclinations the rest of the way.
Spurgeon’s sermons have this, present tense, self reflection of his own struggles and trials in life. I am amazed at times when reading his sermons on just how often he throws himself under the bus. And in doing so, he makes those that are listening to him educated that they are no different than he. In need of God’s grace, from beginning to end. This is one great lesson I learn from Spurgeon. We focus on it a bit in this Podcast. We hope it is helpful.