5 ways to discern true and false repentance
By Jesse Johnson - Posted at The Cripplegate:
Every Christian will likely encounter this scenario: someone you know and who professes Christ has a major sin in their life exposed. As a result, relationships are harmed, their reputation is destroyed, and their heart is broken. You, as their friend (or pastor or spouse) are left wondering how to respond.
You know that Christians are called to forgive and restore other believers who have their sin exposed, but you also know that this is only true if they are repentant over their sin. For example, the command in Galatians 6:1 to “restore” a fallen believer is paired with an exhortation about the importance of self-examination (vv. 2-4). Or Paul, in 2 Corinthians 7, tell the Corinthians that he stands ready to forgive them, because the exposure of their sin produced godly sorrow as opposed to worldly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:9-11).
So what are you supposed to do? The person in front of you says they are repentant. They say they are sorry about their sin. But is that enough?
The Bible contains several aids that are designed to help believers distinguish between true and false repentance. It is important that we are able to distinguish the two, because the difference between them determines how we respond to our fallen brother or sister. If we are to bring law to the proud and grace to the humble, then it is essential that we are able to discern between pride and humility.