Repent! Jesus' Checklist for Repentance
- Summary: Jesus sent personal letters to seven churches in the Book of Revelation. To five of those churches He commanded, “Repent!” In this brief message we will compile from Jesus' words a helpful checklist for repentance, usable by all of us in every generation.
Matthew 4:17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
- •• Mark records Jesus’ first public sermon. His message was “Repent and believe!” (Mark 1:14)
- • John the Baptist’s first public preaching echoes this cry to “Repent!” (Matthew 3:1-2)
- • Likewise Peter, in his great Day of Pentecost sermon that initiated revival, exhorted, “Repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:38)
- •• What is repentance? Christian scholar and historian George Kurian defines repentance as “contrition, the acknowledgment and condemnation of one’s own sins together with a turning back toward God... it includes sorrow, confession, and a determination not to sin again” (Nelson's New Christian Dictionary, p. 654).
- • True repentance includes a “godly sorrow” (2 Corinthians 7:10), a sincerely contrite state of heart and mind that leads the sinner to acknowledge and turn from sin and towards (or back to) God.
- •• In today’s message we will look at a specific checklist for repentance given by Jesus in the second and third chapters of Revelation. The list, although not complete, is broad-based and relevant to us all. It's not so much a "how to repent," but rather some areas for repentance that we would do well to ponder and to seek the Lord's forgiveness if we find ourselves guilty.
Revelation 2:4-5 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.  Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.
- •• Repent of forsaking your first love for the Lord.
- • Jesus said, “Remember” — think back to times of closeness with the Lord.
- • “Repent and do the things you did at first.”
- • If this speaks to you, get back to the loving, cherishing, intimate personal relationship you once had with God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son.
Revelation 2:14-16 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality.  Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.  Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
- •• Repent of anything associated with demons (in this Scripture = “eating food sacrificed to idols”) —
- • Horoscopes, Ouija boards, witchcraft, New Age...
- •• Repent of sexual immorality.
- • A young adult Christian lady recently told me that she was shocked and distressed by the sexual liberties that many Christians take!
- •• Repent of the doctrine of the Nicolaitans:
- (1) A doctrine of exaggerated Christian liberty.
- • I am personally amazed at the number of Christian pastors who regularly drink alcohol and see no problem with it.
- (2) A tendency to “conquer the laity” — churches in which the “clergy” dominate “the laity” need to repent. There is no such dictatorial rule in the bible.
Revelation 2:20-22 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.  I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.  So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways.
- •• Again, repent of “eating food sacrificed to idols ... [and] sexual immorality.”
- •• But here, in addition to the actual sins listed, they are to repent of tolerating jezebel’s influence and teaching.
- • If you personally are allowing evil persons to influence you, repent of that and dissociate yourself.
- • Repent of associating with people, situations, TV shows, etc., that glorify sexual immorality.
Revelation 3:1-3 To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.  Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.  Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.
- •• Repent of living on your past spiritual reputation.
- • 2 Corinthians 6:2 "...now is the day of salvation." We need to be growing in our salvation daily. There is no place in this life where we can be content to say, “I have arrived; I’m mature enough.”
- •• Repent of falling asleep. Wake up!
- • The devil is like the old “Sandman” many of us heard about in childhood — inducing us to sleep, sleep, sleep. The last thing in the world that Satan wants is a wide-awake, vigilant, on-fire Church!
- •• Repent of receiving and hearing, but not obeying.
- • James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
Revelation 3:15-17, 19 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked....  Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.
- •• Repent of growing lukewarm. This is perhaps the most dangerous mindset for a Christian. Jesus said He would even prefer us “cold” to “lukewarm” (vss. 15-16)! Clearly His greatest desire is that we be “hot” in our faith, on fire for Him.
- •• Repent of self-satisfaction — “I am rich ... I do not need a thing” (vs. 17).
In His words to these five churches, Jesus has given us a helpful (although not exhaustive) list of things which demand repentance. I encourage each reader to examine his or her heart. If any of these things (summarized below) are found to be in you, respond immediately to Jesus’ command to “Repent!”
- • Repent of forsaking your first love for the Lord.
- • Repent of associating with any demonic influences (horoscopes, New Age, etc.).
- • Repent of sexual immorality.
- • Repent of taking an exaggerated stance of Christian “liberty” that leads to licentiousness.
- • Repent of any tendency among church leadership to stifle and subjugate the people.
- • Repent of tolerating evil influences and evil teaching.
- • Repent of living on your past reputation and attainment and not making effort to grow daily in your faith.
- • Repent of falling asleep and allowing your Christian walk to become lazy and unmotivated.
- • Repent of being a hearer of the Word of God, but not a doer of His Word.
- • Repent of growing lukewarm in your relationship with the Lord.
- • Repent of self-satisfaction, of a feeling that you have “arrived” and need no further growth.
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©2003, 2015, James H. Feeney.
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by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.