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Varieties and Levels of Repentance

A. Men have tried to make substitutes for repentance.

1. Psychological compensation is a common substitute for genuine repentance.

a. This is a process by which a person tries to cover up a personally unacceptable trait by doing some good thing.
b. Jesus reported the Scribes and Pharisees for saying long prayers as a substitute for their exploitative business practices. Luke 20:47.

2. Identification is another type of substitution for genuine repentance.

a. Identification is the process by which one seek to justify himself before God by assuming he has the traits of another person or institution.
b. The Pharisees and Sadducees believed that identity with Abraham’s name justified them. Matt. 3: 7-10.
c. In the past, many believed that they were Christians because they belonged to a Christian Church, and the same is true today.

3. Symbolic words and acts become substitute for genuine repentance.

a. Jesus refused to accept reverential words as a substitute for obedience. Lk.6:46.
b The habit of confessing sins, by word or act without a will to forsake them is spiritually deadening.

B. Ambivalent repentance is a half-hearted repentance.

1. One comes  to believe in the “religious” life as well as the ways of the world. See Luke 9.61.
2. The contrary forces in human nature reduce one’s ability to be decisive.

a . Contrary attitudes argue for different decisions.
b. No decision is therefore made for a change in life direction.

3. Rebellious impulses of the heart (loving the old ways of life) resist a change of direction.


C. Redemption repentance: is a genuine wholehearted return to God.
1. The sinner accepts responsibility for his spiritual disorder.
2. He asks God to transform attitudes, refine sentiments, create new ideals, and redirect old habits.
3. Man joins with the Almighty in condemning his sins and turns away from them.

a. Man faces judgment,
b. is forgiven, and
c. then sets out on the path of life.

4. Man has a yearning for God. Psa.42:1.
5. The need for repentance is inherent in the physical constitution of man. Psa.32:3,4
6. One may suffer ill health if he refuses to confess his sins to God.


See Christian psychology