“When Jesus had made an end of commanding his disciples, he departed thence to teach and preach in the cities.” (Matthew 11:1). A failure to accept the things seen and heard led Jesus “to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not.” (Matthew 11:20; Cf. Revelation 16:9, 11). “Upbraid”, Greek, ONEIDIZO, is “to defame, i.e. rail at, chide, taunt:–cast in teeth (suffer) reproach, revile, upbraid.” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, p. 1092). Some who asked for a sign from Jesus, rather than repenting were called “an evil and adulterous generation.” (Matthew 12:38, 39). Jesus then told them, “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas;….” (Verses 40, 41). Again, some heard the truth, but they did not repent.
Beloved, “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10). People are “all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable, there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Verse 12). They were not born that way, but became that way. The Holy Spirit moved Paul to write, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Verse 23). Again, actions vs birth. Israel of old was told to “repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.” (Ezekiel 8:30). Jesus, like God, taught the need to repent to keep from perishing. (Luke 13:3, 5). Repentance was taught by Paul. (Acts 17:30, 31). Peter reminded the readers of 2 Peter 3:9 that the Lord does not want anyone to perish, but all to come to repentance. John stressed the need to repent in the last book of the New Testament. (Revelation 2:5, 16; 3:3, 19). “To him that overcometh” (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21) suggests the need of repenting.
Why do so many refuse to repent today? There are many reasons. Consider a few. Perhaps one or more describes you, dear reader. Preachers may not be preaching the need to repent. Jonah’s preaching caused the people of Nineveh to repent. (Matthew 12:41; Jonah 3). A failure to convict people of sin will result in no repentance. People who are not dirty see no need for washing. Read Luke 24:47; Acts 3:19. Further, churches may be allowing sin to continue. They may, like Judah and Jerusalem, want their preachers to “speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:….” (Isaiah 30:10ff). Some elders are following the wishes of the flock, rather than leading and encouraging the teachers and preachers to “speak as the oracles of God.” (1 Peter 4:11). Fear of losing members may cause some to allow sinful marriages, immodesty, and much more. Some churches allow false teachers and preachers to preach error, or to move away without informing others of their teachings (Romans 16:17), giving them opportunity to continue sowing their false teachings. They ought to be identified. (Revelation 2:12-17, 18-29; 1 Timothy 1:19, 20; 2 Timothy 2:16-18). Look around you. What do you see that needs to be corrected?
Another reason that some fail to repent is lack of study, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15). One cannot do what one does not know. A failure to study properly renders one “unskilled in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.” (Hebrews 5:11-14). Also, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”, and rejected of God. (Hosea 4:6). When the writer asked a friend from Libya how people could be convinced to strap bombs to them and commit suicide, he replied, “If you keep people ignorant, you can convince them to do anything.” Is this why some are following the doctrines and commandments of men today? (Matthew 15:7-9).
The world seems to be having an influence on many today. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John 2:15-17). Perhaps TV is one of the church’s greatest enemies. It is rare to watch a movie, talk shows, many religious programs, or even the news, without hearing or seeing things a Christian ought not to see or hear. As Anton Szandor LaVey, deceased Pope of the First Church of Satan, San Francisco, California, once told this writer, “The devil is the greatest friend the church has had; he has kept it in business all these years.” He added, “We believe the opposite of anything God says.” The world teaches that all is OK. Anyone who buys into this idea is difficult to bring to repentance.
Associations may keep one from repenting. “Be not deceived: Evil communications corrupt good manners.” (1 Corinthians 15:33). Friends may lead one astray. Marriages to followers of false teachers may influence one beyond repentance. What one watches or reads may influence one beyond repentance. One cannot play with dirt without getting dirty. Some things are hard to remove.
Some simply give up, thinking that they cannot be forgiven. This writer has been told this more than once. However, the book of Acts gives examples of murderers, sorcerers, the chief of sinners, immoral people, and others who were forgiven when they repented. (Acts 2-28; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 2 Peter 3:9).
Still others may think they have time later to repent, and may intend to do so. Look around you. People are being killed daily. The news constantly reports on babies being killed by even their parents. Young people are dying in accidents, killed in schools and even churches. Young adults are dying untimely deaths. Middle age people are dying. Older people are dying. “It is appointed unto men once to die,….” (Hebrews 9:27). The rich man of Luke 12 thought he had more time, but he was told, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee:….” (Luke 12:13-21, especially verse 20).
Beloved, God loves you. (John 3:14-17). He proved His love by sending His only begotten Son to die in your stead. Jesus is the ransom for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1, 2; Matthew 9:13; 20:28). Let His “goodness” (Romans 2:4) and your “godly sorrow” (2 Corinthians 7:9-11) lead you to repent now. (2 Corinthians 6:2; Hebrews 3:7, 13, 15; 4:7). You may not have tomorrow! Hear and believe (Mark 12:29; Romans 10:17), repent (Acts 17:30, 31), confess (Matthew 10:32, 33; Acts 8:37), and be baptized. (Acts 2:38; Romans 6:1-5; Acts 38, 39; Galatians 3:26, 27; 1 Corinthians 12:13). You will be added to the Lord’s church. (Acts 2:47). Seek to be faithful (Revelation 2:10), repenting when you fail. (Acts 8:22-24; James 5:16; 1 John 2:1, 2). “Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance.” (Matthew 3:8). Bring joy to many here and in heaven. (Luke 15:6, 7, 9, 32).