A Good Description of Real Repentance
1 Peter 2:1-3, So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation — if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
One of the questions we all face in dealing with someone who is only a pretender in their Christian “faith,” is this matter of their oft-repeated claims to be repentant. They can seem quite convincing. The puppy-dog eyes inviting pity. The insistence that everyone must believe their claims of “sorry” (a definite sign of un-repentance, by the way). You’ve heard it all many times. You have wanted to believe it. Sometimes you did. Always, you found out it was false.
The Apostle Peter gives us a remarkably clear description here of the abuser. He does so because he is speaking of the characteristics of sin, and abuse is sin in one of its purer forms — largely or entirely let loose from any constraints of conscience. Consider these five elements of the abusive mentality and tactics:
- Malice — An ill-will toward someone. Malevolence. Intentional desiring to harm someone.
- Deceit — Lying, disguise-wearing, changing the facts of history, crazy-making.
- Hypocrisy — Deceit gone wild. An entire life constructed that is a fraud, designed to cover the corruption inside the cup.
- Envy — Coveting glory and honor for oneself.
- Slander — The verbal spewing of all the other wickedness directed toward others. Malice, deception, hypocrisy and envy set to words.
These are the things that must be put away if real repentance is to occur. All of it has to go. There has to be a thorough scouring of one’s life, loading up all of this trash and sending it to the dump as the garbage that it is. But there has to be more.
In place of all of these things, there must be a new craving for God’s truth. Think about it. Every single one of this five-fold inventory of trash — malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander — is an expression of what is a lie. And that is a pretty good description of the essence of the abuser’s life — it is a lie. He is a lie. The lie must go. The truth must come.
How can we know if someone is repentant? Well, Peter is showing us here that where genuine repentance is, you will find this new hunger and thirst for the pure milk of the Word of God. And as this milk is consumed, growth takes place. Growth in salvation. Growth in Christ. The stench of the old garbage is replaced by the fragrance of Jesus. And as the truly repentant, believing heart consumes this milk, it finds the taste of it quite agreeable. “What is this savor? Give me more!” It is kindness. It is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ shown to a once rebel heart. And it really, really tastes good! Real repentance is a beautiful thing. It tastes, and it finds that the Lord is good.