The Gift of True Repentance

By Not Known

From Ex. 7 to 9, it was mentioned seven times that Pharaoh hardened his heart again God. This led to an escalation of God’s judgment against him. In Ex. 9:12 and 10:1, God stepped in to further harden Pharaoh’s heart. Yet in Ex. 10:3-4, God continued to give Pharaoh the choice to repent. It means despite his hardened heart, Pharaoh retained the ability to choose. However, apart from God’s enabling, Pharaoh would never choose to repent.

What then should we make of Pharaoh’s confession in Ex. 10:16-17? Right after the plague of the locusts, Egypt’s desperate condition drove Pharaoh to call for Moses and Aaron and said to them in verse 16 to 17, “I have sinned against the LORD your God, . . .  forgive my sin, . . . plead with the LORD your God only to remove this death from me.” We only need to read further to realise Pharaoh’s admission of guilt here was not true repentance. Once God relented and brought relief to the land, Pharaoh was back to his old self.

True repentance is not a temporal change of mind. Neither is it just sorrow over sin, or over the negative consequences of sin. Mere remorse is not repentance. Judas Iscariot hanged himself after betraying Christ. Yet no repentance was found in him. He remained a son of perdition (John 17:12). True repentance, while it is God’s command, is also a gift of God’s grace.

True repentance recognises sin fundamentally as a rebellion against God, a show of contempt for His holiness and glory, by violating His word and His law. Sin is an assault on the character of God. Hence David cried out in Ps. 51:4, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight,” even though his sin was committed against Uriah and Bathsheba.

True repentance requires our response to turn away from sin and turn in faith toward God. Heb. 11:6 says those who come to God must believe that He is and He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Repentance is not possible without believing there are forgiveness and grace offered by God through His Son to those who would come to Him. Therefore, repentance is a change of our mind, heart and will in our response to God, self, and sin, empowered by the grace and mercy found at the cross. It is the fruit of a conviction brought about by the Holy Spirit in regard to sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8-11). Henceforth, true repentance will bring forth fruits of righteousness (Luke 3:8) in the form of a changed life as we see in Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10. True repentance is both a command and a gift from God, a gift of grace.