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Seven Motives Of True Repentance

By Richard Owen Roberts

    Continuation of a message delivered at the "Heart-Cry for Revival" Conference near Asheville, North Carolina, May 23-27.

    Some of you pastors know you have people in your church who have never repented. Use the following God-given motives for repentance to move them from where they are to where they are supposed to be.

    Motive Number One: The Sovereign Rights of God. God obviously has rights. His rights are magnificently stated in the Ten Commandments. You don’t have any right to your own use of the Lord’s Day. You don’t have any right of your own to the use of the Lord’s Name. You don’t have any right to your own use of sex. You don’t have any right to your use of goods. All of these things are set forth in the Ten Commandments as God’s rights.

    We must help others to realize that the sovereign God who made them created them not for themselves but for Himself. By failing to live in repentance, they are violating the sovereign rights of the God who made them. If indeed, you yourself are having a personal problem of repentance, remind yourself right now: God has His rights. When I sin, I am sinning against the rights of my creator, and I better quit right now. I know if I go on robbing God of His rights, the day will come when my rights are all gone. In a society like ours, that’s precisely what’s happening to us. Having stolen God’s rights away, we are rapidly stealing the rights of the individual also. The sovereign rights of God is the first motive.

    Motive Number Two: God’s Person. Sin is never personal. It is always an affront against our God. He is holy. In His person, He cannot tolerate unholiness. He has made it abundantly clear that the reason for creating hell was so that He can confine to that place of torment forever those who insist on maintaining their rights to sin. Tragically, in our day we have led multitudes to believe that Christ came to save them from hell. When the angel spoke to Joseph, he said, "Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). We have multitudes in the church who think they have escaped the wrath of God, and yet they haven’t escaped the cause of that wrath.

    It is treating God as if He were somehow an ignoramus to pretend that one could be saved from the penalty of sin and be left with a problem. God has His rights and God in His person is holy; His Name is holy; He has an absolute intolerance of sin. There is no way in the world that anyone can sin against God and remain in that sin, and be saved.

    Motive Number Three: God’s Word. All sin is a violation of God’s law. If we were ignorant savages in some dark corner of the earth, our situation would not be nearly as grievously wicked as it is, but we happen to live in a society where the Word of God is available. Some of us have not merely a Bible, but shelves of Bibles. We know the law of God, and all sin is against His law. If one claims to love the Bible and can say with the psalmist, "Oh, how love I Thy law; it is my meditation all the day" (Psalm 119:97), he has a profound motivation to repentance in the law of God and indeed in the whole of the word of God.

    Motive Number Four: The Love of God. What an incredible thing that our Father in Heaven should have put His arm around the shoulder of His Son and said to Him, "Son, I’m sending You down to earth. You are going to take on the form of a man; You’re going to be born in the womb of a virgin; You’re going to be incarnate God in flesh; You’re going to walk among them; You’re going to offer them some truth; but the principal thing You’re going to do is to die in their place." The love of God is an incredible motive to repentance. How can anyone say that they realize God loves them, and yet persist in their sin?

    Motive Number Five: The Body and the Blood of Jesus Christ. How can someone come to the Communion table and harbor sin in his heart? How can anyone persist in his wrong thinking and in his wrong doing when he is at the table of the Lord and is reminded of His broken body and shed blood? Every remembrance of the crucifixion, every remembrance of the tender atoning work of Jesus Christ ought to be a powerful prompt to thorough repentance.

    Motive Number Six: God’s Wrath. Most of us are too quiet on the dire warnings of the Scripture. But even if we have carelessly neglected them and in a shoddy fashion as pastors, refused to declare the whole counsel of God, it’s there, whether we have ever spoken it correctly or not.

    Every sinner needs to be motivated by the dire threat that the Word of God makes perfectly plain: "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" As we read in Hebrews, if those who received the law at the hand of the angels are held absolutely accountable for everything they received, how can we possibly hope to escape, having received grace at the hands of the Son of God, having seen the love of God manifested in the person of Christ and having had the Words of the Lord Jesus, accompanied by signs and wonders? (Hebrews 2:2-4). How could we hope to escape in the light of such a great salvation?

    Motive Number Seven: God’s Aspirations for Us. Take that "for us" first personally, and then corporately for all gathered here, and then encircle in your understanding all those who have been drawn by the Spirit of God into the family of God. The aspirations of God are a powerful motivation to repentance.

    Many years ago when praying over my son, I felt led to pray this prayer, which I have prayed perpetually since then: "O God, make my son vastly more godly and useful in Your kingdom than his father has ever been or ever will be." Is that a clear statement? That’s an earthly father’s aspiration for an earthly son.

    My son knew nothing of this aspiration for years and years. One day in journeying to the Orient, I had to stay overnight in California, and my son was living there at the time. I called him and said, "Bob, I’ll be at..." and I named the hotel, "and I don’t know what your plans are, but if you’re free I’d love to have you come by the hotel so we can spend some quality time together."

    "O Dad," he said, "I’ll be there for sure." All evening long, in the hotel room, we two together discussed the things that were on our hearts and the things that were important pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

    Suddenly I felt moved to say to my son, "Bob, it never seemed right to tell you this before, but now I am going to tell you what your father’s aspiration for you is. Bob, I have been praying for years that you will be immensely more fruitful and holy than your father ever has been or will be."

    He sat there, I believe, in stark amazement. Tears formed in his eyes, and he said, "Dad, I will never forget that," and he hasn’t. Ever once in a while he will turn to me and say, "Dad, I have not forgotten," and I know what he is referring to. That is the aspiration of an earthly father for his earthly son.

    But now I am saying to you, there is this glorious motivation to repentance in the aspirations of our heavenly Father for us. As long as we remain in an unrepentant state, we are missing God’s heart aspirations for us. We’ll always fall desperately short of the Kingdom of God. God has aspirations for all His earthly children.

    Long before you were born, God had you in His heart and He had immense aspirations for you. While you walk perpetually in repentance and faith, the aspirations of God are finding fulfillment. Whenever you fall short of full repentance and full faith, you miss God’s aspirations for you.

    "O God, thank You for the great truth expressed in this seventh motive to repentance, that You have such a personal love and interest in each of us and in all of us, that You have perfectly glorious aspirations for all of us. By Your mercy, O God, do not let one of us fall short of Your aspirations. Help all of us to somehow carry these truths to those whose lives are under our influence so that instead of hanging on to the myths of repentance, our people will be motivated to full and complete and perpetual repentance to the everlasting glory of King Jesus!"