A great deal is said these days about repentance, but when we read verses like Luke 13:3 etc and see that it is so crucial, what exactly is it? It has been around since the beginning of time and is not something new, there are others before us who have dealt faithfully with this word. A perfectly fitting example is H.A. Ironside in his excellent book “Except ye Repent”
Here are a few quotes:
“Repentance is the recognition of my sinnership — the owning before God that I am as vile as He has declared me to be in His holy Word.”
“Repentance is the recognition, the avowed recognition, of God’s estimate of the hopeless character of our hearts till renewed by the Word and Spirit of God. Until one comes to this place there is no further word from heaven for any man, except the sentence of doom.”
“Repentance is the sinner’s recognition of and acknowledgment of his lost estate and, thus, of his need of grace.”
Though able to change our minds, or attitudes towards ourselves, by nature we simply do not want to. We are commanded to do something for which it is not possible for us to want to do. This is why the work of the Holy Spirit is required to bring everyone who comes, to repentance. We must have a glimpse of perfection with which to compare ourselves before we will ever look at ourselves as we ought to. It is the work of the Spirit of God to give us that glimpse such that we can see our broken and undone condition. Upon seeing that we are to proclaim with Job, “behold, I am vile”, which is the result of seeing yourself next to the perfection of God. It is not a view that I was vile as is often proclaimed, but that I am vile. It is a present sense of who you really are that is repentance.
Men would fancy that you have to do this, or turn from this or some other such thing, but in reality that is just part of the charade of painting the sepulchre. Until you recognize and fully own the fact that you are plainly without hope in yourself, there can never be hope. You see, repentance is really just the recognition of who we really are, and what strength we have in ourselves to do about it, to which the answer to both is simply “nothing”, and can only be seen when compared to one who is everything. That is why we need a glimpse of Christ. That is what the Holy Spirit gives us. That is what gives us repentance, or a change of mind about who we really are. That is when we are in position to have the salve of the blood of Christ applied to our wounds. That is what causes us to believe on Christ. That is how we are brought into saving faith. That is the repentance that leads to salvation. It is that which, if missing, is what causes us to perish eternally as stated in Luke 13:3.
If this is not present in yourself, ask the Spirit of God to give you a true sight of yourself and sight of the perfection which is found in Christ Jesus, and trust Him to impute His righteousness to you by faith. He was made to be what we are, so that we could be made to be what He is!
2 Cor 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.