Our message today is entitled “What Does Repentance Mean?” Repentance is one of the most important words in the Bible. Why is repentance so important? Without repentance a person cannot be saved. Hell is populated with people who have not repented. Repentance is not just something that you do once is life. Repentance is meant to be practiced daily, that’s what believers do.
So, what does repentance mean? In the Greek language, the word for repent is metanoew, which means to change one’s thinking, to turn around. John the Baptist’s ministry was a call to repentance. Jesus’ ministry is summarized in …
Mark 1:15 (ESV) and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
So, in Jesus’ call, one must repent, turn away from sin and believe in the gospel of Jesus. Let’s look more closely at what it means to repent. The Bible teaches that everyone worships something or someone. There are no exceptions. God’s Word tells us that God has revealed Himself to everyone on the planet.
Romans 1:21-23 (ESV) For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
You see, there are only two options to worship. You can worship the one and only true God, the creator. Or you can worship created things, images, people, pleasure, power, money, etc. The Bible calls anything you worship other than God an idol and all idols are empowered by demons.
Let’s define what it means to worship someone or something. To worship is to bow down to, to follow, to submit to, to put first, to love. You cannot worship God and idols at the same time, you must worship God alone. To repent is to change what your worship, to turn away from worshipping idols and choose to worship God alone. You put God first in your life. Every sin is an act of worship to an idol, that’s why it’s sin.
Every day, Jesus taught us to repent and ask for forgiveness. Let’s make clear what true repentance is not. True repentance is not admitting or confessing you’ve sinned and then continuing in that sin. True repentance is not saying, sorry, forgive me, but I’m going to keep on sinning. True repentance is changing your mind about your sin. True repentance means that if you had a do over in the situation in which you sinned, you would not sin again. That’s what repentance means.
Luke 13:1-2 (ESV) There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?
Pontius Pilate was a brutal Roman prefect who slaughtered some Jews as they worshipped and sacrificed at the temple. Jesus asked the people the question whether those who died were worse sinners that others? There was a popular belief in Jesus’ day and today, that disaster tends to fall on the worst sinners.
Luke 13:3 (ESV) No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
Jesus tells the people, that no, those who died were not worse sinners than others who were spared. When there is a disaster, Jesus says, don’t think about those who died as worse than you. Examine your own life and repent of your sin or you will perish eternally as well.
Luke 13:4-5 (ESV) Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Jesus now speaks of another disaster, not caused by murder but by an accident. A brick tower collapsed and fell on eighteen people and killed them. Was that because those eighteen were the worse sinners in Jerusalem? No, that’s not why they perished. Rather than thinking about how bad these sinners were, Jesus was instructing them to look at their own lives. Unless they repented before they died, they would perish eternally. Each person must repent in this life or perish in hell forever.
Are violence, natural disasters or illnesses God’s judgement on the victim’s sins? No necessarily and not in these cases. Sometimes, illness, death, violence and disaster are God’s judgement. But that is in God’s hands, not for us to speculate and think of ourselves as better. Rather, whenever someone dies and goes into eternity, we should examine our own lives. Have we repented? Are we living for God? Are we ready to meet our maker?
Are those around us that we have influence over ready for eternity? Every person on earth must repent before they pass on or they will eternally perish. Repentance is turning away from sin and putting God first in your life.
Luke 13:6 (ESV) And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.
In this parable, the owner of the vineyard represents God. The fig tree represents someone who claims to be a believer in Jesus. Every fig tree is expected to bear fruit and every believer is also expected to bear fruit. What is fruit? Simply put, fruit is the good works that God has planned for you to do in your life. The owner came to inspect his fig tree, expecting to find fruit, but found none.
Luke 13:7 (ESV) And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’
Now we find that God had looking for fruit from this fig tree for three years, but had found none. God is thinking about cutting down the fig tree, as it was using up ground in the vineyard. Surely, another fig three could be planted that would bear fruit.
Luke 13:8-9 (ESV) And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”
The vinedresser, representing God’ mercy, asks for patience, giving the fig tree a fourth chance in the fourth year to bear fruit. If it finally bears the fruit it should have in the fourth year, then God’s patience will be rewarded. If it bears no fruit after the fourth year, then it will be cut down. Cutting down the fig tree represents a person being cast into hell and perishing. Let’s talk some more about how this parable warns us against presuming on God’s patience.
The sin, as it were, of the fig tree is that it did not produce fruit, it did not do the good works that God had created it to do. Oftentimes, people think of sin as only things they are not to do. Yet, not doing the good things that God planned for you to do is just as wrong as doing bad things. God is very patient with people and their sins, either of commission or omission as in this story. God’s patience, waiting for people to repent, often causes people to think that judgement will never come. God is very patient, not wanting any to perish, but there will be a time when His patience runs out.
When God’s patience with sin runs out, one of two things will happen. The first possibility will be that His Spirit stops convicting the person of sin and the person will never repent. The second possibility which can precede or follow the first is that the person will die and pass into eternity without repenting and so perish. We must not presume on God’s patience, for it does not last forever. Today is the time to repent and choose to bear good fruit for the Lord in our lives.
Behind violence, disasters and failing to bear fruit is our enemy Satan. The next section will enlighten us to what demons can do to people and show us how …
Luke 13:10-11 (ESV) Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself.
A woman in the synagogue had a problem for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten herself up. You might think she had arthritis, a bad back or scoliosis as the cause, but that was not the ultimate cause. The cause was a demon, called a disabling spirit. The root cause of her disability was not physical, but spiritual. We have no idea what caused the demon to afflict her for the last eighteen years.
Luke 13:12-13 (ESV) When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God.
Jesus seeing the woman, immediately knew what the cause was. He commanded her to be freed from her disability and laid his hands on her. Immediately, she straightened up and began to praise God. The power of the demon over her life for 18 years had been instantly broken
Luke 13:14-16 (ESV) But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, … then the Lord answered him, … And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?”
The Jewish leaders were all up in a tizzy because Jesus had healed another person on the Sabbath. In the passage, Jesus responds that the Jews loosed their animals on the Sabbath to lead them to water. How much more could this woman, a believer, a daughter of Abraham be loosed from Satan. As in the other examples today of Satan’s destructive power, sometimes demonic activity can be the result of sin in a person’s life. That does not seem to be the case here.
Demons can latch onto a person for many reasons, that we don’t have time to go into this morning. This demonic power was causing the bondage in her back and Jesus loosed it and set her free. Jesus breaks demonic power and so can we as believers.
The Bible teaches us that Satan is ultimately behind all kinds of sicknesses, disabilities, and diseases. Some diseases can be healed through modern medicine, others cannot. Medicine could never heal this woman of the disability that was caused solely by an evil spirit. Healing of all kinds, including deliverance from evil spirits, is something that we as believers can do in Jesus’ name.
The spiritual gift of discerning of spirits can help us tell if the root cause of something is of demonic origin. We need not be afraid of Satan’s demons, for in the name of Jesus we have power over them. Demons are much more prevalent than most people realize. We know that because delivering people from demons was one of the main things that Jesus did. And all those demons that Jesus dealt with are still around today. May God help us to believe that Jesus can break demonic power through us and set people free.
What does repentance mean? Repentance is changing your thinking about sin, turning away from it and turning to Jesus. Without repentance, no one can be saved. Without repentance, no believer can grow in their spiritual walk.
Violence, disasters, epidemics should focus our eyes on eternity and lead us to repent. As believers, we should look for opportunities to encourage others to repent in the difficult times in which we live. God is patient and does not bring immediate judgement for He is patient waiting for people to repent. But God’s patience does not last forever.
Those who do not repent in this life will spend eternity without God. Satan seeks to steal, kill and destroy, but as believers we have power over him. May God use us to set people free from sin, sickness and demonic powers.