1. GODLY SORROW FOR SIN
a. What are we called to do in order that our sins may be forgiven by God? Acts 3:19.
b. What will always accompany true repentance and how will it affect the heart and life? 2 Corinthians 7:9, 10.
“Repentance includes sorrow for sin and a turning away from it. We shall not renounce sin unless we see its sinfulness; until we turn away from it in heart, there will be no real change in the life.”—Steps to Christ, p. 23.
“We often sorrow because our evil deeds bring unpleasant consequences to ourselves; but this is not repentance. Real sorrow for sin is the result of the working of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit reveals the ingratitude of the heart that has slighted and grieved the Saviour, and brings us in contrition to the foot of the cross. By every sin Jesus is wounded afresh; and as we look upon Him whom we have pierced, we mourn for the sins that have brought anguish upon Him. Such mourning will lead to the renunciation of sin.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 300.
2. THE GIFT OF REPENTANCE
a. How does David’s prayer illustrate the nature of true repentance? Psalm 51:1–4, 10–13.
“David saw the enormity of his transgression; he saw the defilement of his soul; he loathed his sin. It was not for pardon only that he prayed, but for purity of heart. He longed for the joy of holiness—to be restored to harmony and communion with God.”—Steps to Christ, p. 25.
b. What does the Bible teach about the source of true repentance? Romans 2:4.
“We can no more repent without the Spirit of Christ to awaken the conscience than we can be pardoned without Christ.
“Christ is the source of every right impulse. He is the only one that can implant in the heart enmity against sin. Every desire for truth and purity, every conviction of our own sinfulness, is an evidence that His Spirit is moving upon our hearts.”— Ibid., p. 26.
c. How can we obtain this kind of repentance? Matthew 11:28; Acts 5:31.
“The living oracles do not teach that the sinner must repent before he can heed the invitation of Christ: ‘Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ Men must come to Christ because they see him as their Saviour, their only helper, that they may be enabled to repent; for if they could repent without coming to Christ, they could also be saved without Christ. It is the virtue that goes forth from Christ that leads to genuine repentance. . . . Repentance is as much the gift of Christ as is forgiveness, and it cannot be found in the heart where Jesus has not been at work. We can no more repent without the Spirit of Christ to awaken the conscience, than we can be pardoned without Christ. Christ draws the sinner by the exhibition of his love upon the cross, and this softens the heart, impresses the mind, and inspires contrition and repentance in the soul.”—The Review and Herald, April 1, 1890.
3. THE CONDITIONS FOR FORGIVENESS
a. What are the conditions of obtaining forgiveness established in the word of God? Proverbs 28:13; James 5:16.
“The conditions of obtaining mercy of God are simple and just and reasonable. The Lord does not require us to do some grievous thing in order that we may have the forgiveness of sin. We need not make long and wearisome pilgrimages, or perform painful penances, to commend our souls to the God of heaven or to expiate our transgression; but he that confesseth and forsaketh his sin shall have mercy.”—Steps to Christ, p. 37.
b. When we have offended our brother, whom have we also offended? What should teach us our duty toward our brother? Matthew 25:40; 1 Peter 4:8.
“Confess your sins to God, who only can forgive them, and your faults to one another. If you have given offense to your friend or neighbor, you are to acknowledge your wrong, and it is his duty freely to forgive you. Then you are to seek the forgiveness of God, because the brother you have wounded is the property of God, and in injuring him you sinned against his Creator and Redeemer.”—Ibid., p. 37.
c. To whom are we to confess our sins? How must confession of sin be made? Psalm 32:5; Matthew 5:23, 24.
“True confession is always of a specific character, and acknowledges particular sins. They may be of such a nature as to be brought before God only; they may be wrongs that should be confessed to individuals who have suffered injury through them; or they may be of a public character, and should then be as publicly confessed. But all confession should be definite and to the point, acknowledging the very sins of which you are guilty.”—Ibid., p. 38.
“Sin of a private character is to be confessed to Christ, the only mediator between God and man. For ‘if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous’ [1 John 2:1]. Every sin is an offense against God, and is to be confessed to Him through Christ. Every open sin should be as openly confessed.”—Gospel Workers, p. 216.
4. DANGER OF SELF JUSTIFICATION
a. When the Lord asked Adam and Eve concerning their sin, how did their response imply that it was not really their fault? Genesis 3:12, 13.
“After Adam and Eve had eaten of the forbidden fruit, they were filled with a sense of shame and terror. At first their only thought was how to excuse their sin and escape the dreaded sentence of death. When the Lord inquired concerning their sin Adam replied, laying the guilt partly upon God and partly upon his companion. ‘The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.’ The woman put the blame upon the serpent, saying, ‘The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.’ Genesis 3:12, 13. Why did You make the serpent? Why did You suffer him to come into Eden? These were the questions implied in her excuse for her sin, thus charging God with the responsibility of their fall.”—Steps to Christ, p. 40.
b. What is a common temptation for a person when found in transgression, and why does this attitude render such a confession ineffectual? Job 9:20; Luke 16:15.
“The spirit of self-justification originated in the father of lies and has been exhibited by all the sons and daughters of Adam. Confessions of this order are not inspired by the divine Spirit and will not be acceptable to God. True repentance will lead a man to bear his guilt himself and acknowledge it without deception or hypocrisy.”—Ibid., p. 40.
c. How specifically did Paul acknowledge his sin? What humble attitude did he take after his conversion (Acts 9:3–6)? Acts 26:10, 11.
“The examples in God’s word of genuine repentance and humiliation reveal a spirit of confession in which there is no excuse for sin or attempt at self-justification. Paul did not seek to shield himself; he paints his sin in its darkest hue not attempting to lessen his guilt. He says, [Acts 26:10,11, quoted]. He does not hesitate to declare that ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief’ (1 Timothy 1:15).”—Ibid., p. 41.
5. ALL OR NOTHING
a. What does God ask us to give Him and what does this involve? Proverbs 23:26; Luke 14:33.
“God requires the entire surrender of the heart, before justification can take place.”—Selected Messages, bk 1, p. 366.
“In giving ourselves to God, we must necessarily give up all that would separate us from Him. Hence the Saviour says, ‘Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple’ (Luke 14:33). Whatever shall draw away the heart from God must be given up. Mammon is the idol of many. The love of money, the desire for wealth, is the golden chain that binds them to Satan. Reputation and worldly honor are worshiped by another class. The life of selfish ease and freedom from responsibility is the idol of others. But these slavish bands must be broken. We cannot be half the Lord’s and half the world’s. We are not God’s children unless we are such entirely.”—Steps to Christ, p. 44.
b. Why was the prayer of the publican for mercy heard? Luke 18:13, 14.
“The prayer of the publican was heard because it showed dependence reaching forth to lay hold upon Omnipotence. Self to the publican appeared nothing but shame. Thus it must be seen by all who seek God. By faith—faith that renounces all self-trust—the needy suppliant is to lay hold upon infinite power.
“No outward observances can take the place of simple faith and entire renunciation of self. But no man can empty himself of self. We can only consent for Christ to accomplish the work.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 159.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What two things does true repentance include?
2. How is repentance a gift we receive rather than something we must do?
3. What must we do in order to obtain the forgiveness for our sins?
4. What shows that a truly repentant person will make no excuse for sin?
5. What must we be willing to give up in order to receive justification?