by Phillip Vanwinkle
JUNE 26, 2015

Myths of Repentance #1

Myths of Repentance 1

Today, in our blog, we will discuss some things concerning repentance. If you have not checked out our tract on repentance please go to: before continuing this blog.

What is a Myth?

A Myth is defined in the Merriam Webster dictionary as:

a : a popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone; especially : one embodying the ideals and institutions of a society or segment of society

b : an unfounded or false notion

 As we discuss some Myths about Repentance, let us notice that a Myth is a popular belief that has grown up around something or someone, but… that it is also an unfounded or false notion.

There are some false practices about repentance that, even in the Lord’s church, are nothing more than Myths. And yet, when we look at the Word of God, we will find out that these ideas are false, and therefore we must stop living by them.

Myth: #1: Sorrow is equal to repentance.

There are some in our brotherhood who believe that simply “feeling bad” about something that they have done is enough to equal the true repentance that the Bible tells us about.

For instance, not too long ago in my life, I was guilty of saying things about a brother, which I had heard from someone else. I never bothered to check the facts about it… I simply went around saying things about this brother. Later, after I found out that what I had heard about him was false… I felt really bad about it. I felt embarrassed, I felt ashamed… I actually felt a lump in my throat, as I found out the truth about the situation - and I felt a nagging, aching pit in my stomach. Why? Because I had gone around saying things about this brother that I had heard from someone else. Only to find out later it was not true.

Oh, I felt horrible. I actually felt genuine sorrow for what I had done.

But was that the end of it?

Remember when Paul said to those in Corinth, after he gave them a verbal spanking about living in the midst of sin, and how they needed to repent of it. Look at 2 Corinthians 7:8-10 (ASV):

For though I made you sorry with my epistle, I do not regret it: though I did regret it (for I see that that epistle made you sorry, though but for a season), I now rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye were made sorry unto repentance; for ye were made sorry after a godly sort, that ye might suffer loss by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation, a repentance which bringeth no regret: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

Notice: It doesn’t simply say “sorrow” worketh repentance…

And… it also doesn’t say: Godly sorrow IS repentance.  

It says, Godly sorrow leadeth to - or worketh - repentance.

How about Judas? Wasn’t he sorry for killing Jesus? Didn’t he show his sorrow for killing the Lord? Sure he did… but it was not the sorrow that would lead him to do what was necessary for forgiveness. He was sad about it, he felt bad about it, but his sorrow did not lead him to repent.

But back to my situation.  I had wronged this brother. I had wronged his family by saying these words about him, even though I really thought those words were true. They were not, and so… I need to ask a question. Was my sorrow enough? Was the fact that I “felt bad” about the situation - was that enough for me to be able – with no other action on my part… just the simple fact that I felt bad… was that enough to equal my forgiveness?

Or, did I need to do anything else about it?

Well, someone says, “Phillip that is easy, of course you need to do something about it… you sinned, and so you need to ask God for forgiveness.”

But why? Doesn’t He already know that I “feel bad”?  Yes, He knows I feel bad, but He wants me – not to simply feel bad about what I have done – He wants me to be humble enough to admit that what I had done was awful, and that I need to seek forgiveness for it.

Friends, that is the problem, when a person knows he has done wrong, and yet refuses to repent of his actions… I tell you that his problem is not only that he sinned against his brother, but he is too proud to simply turn to God and ask for forgiveness.

And so, I did indeed pray about it… I prayed, and I prayed, and I prayed. I searched my heart; I humbled myself enough to ask for God’s forgiveness.

Question: Was that the end of it for me? Was simply feeling sorrow, and then asking Godto forgive me, was that all that there was to forgiveness in this matter?

No! As I was reading the Sermon On The Mount during this same time period, I listened to the words of the sermon, I allowed the words of my Lord to so change my heart that it moved me to action.

Notice What Jesus said in Matthew 5:

but I say unto you, that every one who is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of the hell of fire. If therefore thou art offering thy gift at the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

And so it is clear that I had sinned. Yes, I truly felt sorry for what I had done… but, as we saw with Judas… simply feeling sorry was not enough. It took action on my part.

Not only that; but simply asking God to forgive me was also not enough. God says, “Don’t come to me and ask for forgiveness, not until you have first gone to your brother and asked for his forgiveness. You go and be reconciled with him first, then you come to me.”

But notice, once I have made things right with my brother, then I come to God and ask for His forgiveness. Once I have made it right, I now can come to God and offer my gift at the altar.

And so what did I need to do? I needed to humble myself enough, to walk up to the man who knew that I had done him wrong.  I needed to go to him and say to him from the bottom of my heart, “Brother (so and so)… I have sinned against you and I am sorry, please forgive me. If you need me to write a letter, to your family or your congregation, or anyone else that I have caused trouble for you, I will be glad to do that.”

That is making things right, in the sight of God and man.

See, the reason that many “faithful” Christians will lose their souls, is because they have no problem going to God and asking for forgiveness but they simply refuse to humble themselves enough to go to their brethren and ask for forgiveness. And to be reconciled with them.

And if we do not… if we never reconcile with our brothers, mark it down: We will not be able to enter into Heaven.  

It doesn’t matter how many gifts you lay before the altar to God. If you have not first gone to your brother to ask for forgiveness, then God will not accept your gift. That is why he says first go to your brother and ask his forgiveness, and then come and offer your gift.

Asking God to forgive you, before you ask your brother, does not equal forgiveness. Feeling sorry is not the same as repentance. You must make things right here, and only then will God make things right there.

And so MYTH #1 is proven wrong.

A person cannot simply be forgiven… because he “feels bad” about something he has done. May God help us to live as He has instructed in His book—The Bible.

There are more “Myths of Repentance” coming in the next few months. Please continue to come back and read the blogs. 

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