Wednesday: True and False Repentance Contrasted

There are some very specific examples in the Bible of people who sought repentance but were not forgiven by God. They wept.

Image © Providence Collection from

Image © Providence Collection from

They were sorrowful. They confessed their sin but were not forgiven.

Read the accounts of Pharaoh, Balaam, Esau, and Judas in Exodus 12:29-32Numbers 22:32-35Hebrews 12:17, and Matthew 27:4. What common thread do you see running through each story in regard to repentance and/or confession?

One phrase in Hebrews 12:17, NKJV , sums it up well. Speaking of Esau, the passage says that “when he wanted to inherit the blessing,” he repented. Like Pharaoh, Balaam, and Judas, Esau’s heart was not broken over the pain that his sin had brought to his family or to the heart of God. His concern was over the birthright he had lost. He was sorry that he had not received that which he believed to be rightfully his. His motives were not pure. His sorrow was for himself. False repentance focuses upon the consequences of sin as opposed to the sin itself.

The law of sowing and reaping is a divine law. It is true that sin brings dire consequences, but repentance is not consumed with the negative results of sin. It is concerned, instead, with the dishonor and sorrow that our sin has brought to God.

True repentance is always characterized by at least three things: First, a sorrow that our sin has broken God’s heart. We are hurt because we hurt the One who loves us so much. Second, there is an honest confession of the specific sin that we have committed. True repentance is not laced with excuses for our behavior. It does not place blame on someone else. It takes responsibility for our actions. Third, true repentance always includes the decision to turn away from our sin. There can be no genuine repentance unless there is a corresponding reformation in the life. False repentance, on the other hand, is self-centered. It is concerned with the consequences of our sin. It is an emotional state of sorrow because our sins often bring negative consequences. It makes excuses and lays the blame on someone else. It is unconcerned about the changing of behavior unless the change will personally bring its own rewards.



Wednesday: True and False Repentance Contrasted — 16 Comments

  1. Genuine repentance is not "because of"..but it recognise dept of sin in which we are born and emerge in from birth. So repentance is turning toward lost paradise to see insidiousness of sin and hoping forward to New Jerusalem. To hope is to give back the glory to God who promises salvation. To reject God given promises is even to call Him a liar.

  2. When I gave God some half put together apology for my sins, I could never experience the feeling of forgiveness. In the back of my mind I couldn't feel 100% satisfied with the fact that it was enough. I couldn't experience true repentance because my heart wasn't into what I was repenting and confessing for. For some reason, I really thought I was fooling God, when in fact, I was fooling myself. When God pricked my heart and true repentance and confession took place in my life, it felt as if a load was lifted off of my shoulders. I really felt forgiven of my sins. With God's help, I began to realize the hurt I was causing Him and knew a change had to take place in my life. I'm so thankful God didn't give up on me. To repent to God and confess each and every sin has set my soul free. To experience true repentance and confession has put a genuine smile on my face, a pep in my step and a continuous song in my heart! They far out weighs false any day. Thank God for today's lesson!

  3. “Some people believe they need to get over sin to be accepted by Christ. This is not the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ is this: You’re going to heaven because of what Christ has done, what he is still doing and what he will continue to do.”
    Matthew Gamble, pastor of the Elmshaven Seventh-day Adventist Church in St. Helena, California, United States in Novi Sad, Serbia on The “Power of One” Pan-European Youth Congress
    That is my experience also. When I was feeling to lose my mind, walking in kitchen at night, from End, I was saved by toughts: „I can only rely on Christs work on Cross“, and not on my life.
    But also, Christ is working now creating us from inside – out. And He will come II. time in glory to change world and us with it in immortality. He gives us life and life in paradise.

    • Goran, thank you for sharing your experience.

      To truly appreciate the work of Christ for us, I believe we all have to come to the place where we give up on ourselves and the possibility of being "righteous enough to save" and throw ourselves on the mercy of Christ. As we do that, we submit ourselves fully to Him. This submission is a daily matter, not a one-time thing. As we submit to Him daily, He can work out His life in us.

    • Its not enough to get forgiveness for our sins...we must overcome them. Time and time again we see Jesus saying - go and sin no more...and in Rev 3:21 he says who goes to heaven....those who overcome sin as he also overcame.

  4. Its true. False repentance is not deep hearted, it reflects ones wants and desire. True repentance is in soul and has no goals. It is sure and meaningful.

    • Isabel, when we have sinned against another person, we have also sinned against God by sinning against His child. So we need to confess to the person as well as to God.

      Some sins are of a private nature and should be confessed only to God.

  5. Repentance should not be based on the fact that if we do not repent we will miss heaven. Instead it should be based on the fact that sin as a whole is breaking the law of God and that hurts God after all the effort He has done. When we repent we should be looking at sin and see it as a bad thing that we should not be indulging in and detest it. It should be the gravity, nature and what sin will wrought, what will become of us if we do not repent. In other words not the results of sin but the effect sin has to us, family, communities and above all God who takes care of are our well-being.

  6. Is it that the born again is to is to continue in sin? Or is it he that is born of God does not commit sin? Are we in the flesh or in the spirit? Carnal or spirit, I think that our own answer will tell us why some of us will seek for repentance and cant find it.
    That which has happen Esau, Pharaoh, Judas and don't forget the leadership of the church in Jesus day, because they attribute the work of the Spirit of God to Baal, there was nothing that God can do for them. In Esau's case his belly was more important to him than the honor of the priesthood. From the day that Pharaoh said "Who is God that I should obey him " there was no other help for him, and Judas remained carnal though he walked with the Prince of heaven
    I think we too have fallen in the same trap. Did not God call on us to repent in Revelation 3? When Ninivah repented the curse was lifted.There is no evidence that we as a people ever did repent for our disbelief toward God charge to us. Are our prayers heard?
    I think that the people of that island that flock to hear the three angels message, and those people of the Asian Mission will take our place in the kingdom of heaven because we have committed the sin that is unto death.

  7. Our creator is ready to accept us through His amazing grace. He wants to retain our originality when He first created us.That's why we must first acknowledge our sins, put them open to God and confess them and for sure you will be relieved deep from the heart. Remember the Holy Spirit will condemn us in our guilty conscious but at the same time uplift our hearts through a sincere open confession. God's arms are wide open to receive us if we make the right step.

  8. Clearly, all 4 examples in the lesson were looking after their own(selfish type) of interests. From the perspective of any creature that does not have the ability to read the sinner's heart, as the Lord does, can the evidence of true repentance be to never perform that sin again? Well, no. In all for examples the opportunity can never present it's self again to test their resolve to not perform that sin again We humans can see the sorrowful expression on the face, the sorrowful tone in the voice and even in the sorrowful expression in the body language that would lead us to conclude that true repentance was performed. But was it really? I am trying to say that an other set of examples should have been given where the specific sin had the opportunity to present it's self again and then observe how the example responded to the opportunity.

  9. [Thank you for your comment. Please use your full name when you comment again, as we request on the comment form.]

    I have never noticed Pharoah's final request until reading this from todays lesson. The last part of verse 32 says that Pharoah requested that Moses bless him. That was interesting...

  10. I was very happy when i finished reading today's lesson.

    Some times when i sinned then i reflect back to find the whereabout of that sin i have committed. So what i did was that i took a particular issue so that i saved myself through that..such confession is totally unacceptable to God sight as not confession.

    In true confession the offender will feel bad for that sin and his/her heart will tremble. The person will reflect his mind on the cross on which Jesus was crucified.
    Let us learn how to confess our sins in the right manner.

  11. When God calls each one of us to (confession and) repentance - through the daily, ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit - He does it in order to re-establish the perfect love relationship with you and me. True repentance will always lead me to God and focus on renewing/growing the love relationship with Him, for which an eternity is needed!

    False repentance, on the other hand, will never focus on God and on the love friendship with Him, but on the self and the mere things I may gain (for myself) here and now. The Bible examples quoted in today's study are crystal clear about that, an object lesson for each one of us re: how serious and important this matter is.

    May true repentance and a close, intimate daily walk with the Lord as our loving Friend and Savior be our experience as individuals, families, and as a people of God!

  12. We must remember that The Lord is preparing His children for his "Kingdom".

    His Kingdom is established on the fruits of the Spirit ( love peace joy temperance & etc..) If we are to be citizens of His Kingdom we must be changed by the prompting of the Holy Ghost.
    Citizenship for his Kingdom is based on a relationship of trust and obedience. We must have a transition of character here & now..!!! We are to
    become citizens of His Kingdom while here on this earth now, so that when
    Christ returns, the only thing that we will take to heaven is our Christ - like Character..


Please leave a comment long enough to say something significant and considerably shorter than the original post. First and last name required.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *