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.

6 thoughts on “A Good Description of Real Repentance

  1. Thank you, Pastor. I have specifically been wondering about this topic recently.

    I wonder if you or the other readers have more thoughts on this question: what if I have little to no contact with the reviler, but others who are closer to her say that she has changed? I can’t really say “I see no evidence of that.” Because I don’t see her at all. I find it highly unlikely that she has truly changed, but what can I say to this person who believes real repentance has occurred?

    I feel like I am being some kind of hypocrite if I say there’s no way she’s changed, when I don’t want to see her and find out.

    1. Snapdragon – this is an excellent question on a subject that most all of us have had similar unpleasant experiences with. I suspect that others will have some great input for you here too. I have arrived at the following conclusions in this matter – 1) it is very wise not to have any contact with a reviler. I once had a reviler sit beside his wife (I had known them for a long time and they caused me much grief) and tell me “I have changed! But you don’t see me anymore so you don’t know I’ve changed!” It is a fallacy. We are not to have contact with revilers – especially the kind who claim to be Christians.

      2) You WILL know the reviler has changed – if they ever do, which is virtually a never happening – because they will bring forth visible fruit in keeping with real repentance. That fruit will first and foremost include a humble, broken approach which says “I dare not even look up at you”, and a confession of all the wickedness they have committed against you and others. You will know it because they will come to you asking for forgiveness and putting NO blame on anyone but themselves. I have NEVER seen this happen however.

      3) YOU are the one who has been the target of the reviling committed against you. Not other people. Therefore the other people who are insisting to you that the reviler has “changed” are being arrogant and are shaming you wrongfully. They do not know. They CANNOT know because they are not the ones who have been the target. You are.

      4) People who keep laying this “but the reviler has repented and changed” on the victim are in fact functioning as allies of the reviler. They are of the same spirit as those who ally with a domestic abuser and pressure the victim into reconciling with the evil one. They are cowardly and they have joined forces with the reviler.

      The REAL question here is not why YOU are not having contact with the reviler, but why are THEY having contact with her? If they say “oh, she has changed!” then that necessarily means they KNOW the reviler has been reviling and yet are continuing to associate with her and support her. In fact they are willfully being duped by her because they don’t want to pay the price required to stand against evil.

      So, who is the hypocrite? The Christian who stands against evil and separates from it, refusing to be duped by it? Or the dupee who continues to associate with it?

      Make no mistake – it is the Spirit of Christ who shows us evil people and who leads us to separate from them.

      Mat 10:34-39 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. (35) For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. (36) And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. (37) Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (38) And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. (39) Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

  2. Thank you, Pastor Crippen, for this!! One of the BEST teaching posts by anyone regarding this subject of “Repentance” (especially regarding abusers) I’ve ever read or heard. Such valuable and usable truths here. Ones that take burdens AWAY from victims of revilers/abusers and their “False Christian PR People”/allies/willfully disobedient hypocrites. And put that burden correctly and Scripturally on the wicked and their enablers. I’m saving this one in a special file to reread when needed! Thank you.

    1. To be clearer, I was referring to your REPLY to snapdragon’s great question as the best teaching on the “repentance” of our abusers (which will never happen). Going No Contact with my entire former abusive “Christian” family as well as all their lifelong “Christian” enablers and allies of evil caused me to decide not to attend their funerals, weddings, celebrations or hospital stays..No Contact means NO Contact or it means nothing (unless one has to share children with abuser, I know). We ARE to separate from wicked people posing as Christians, which describes most of the abusers we refer to on this blog and the church communities we have encountered.

      And we are to separate from those who ally themselves with our abusers-who they KNOW are our abusers-willfully disobeying God’s Word to separate from the wolves. Yes, there is quite a cost to following through with this and being obedient to God. Pretty much everything. Loss of lifelong “Christian friends” & church communities, loss of all opportunities to normally socialize or attend family/friends’ celebrations, loss of family inheritances, constant vile smear campaigns for our following through with our No Contact policy, especially for the funerals of our abusers and their allies. WE are the villains in their total rewriting of history as being cold-hearted, unforgiving, un-Christlike, mean spirited,…That’s the “crazy making” part. In the smear campaigns by their allies (flying monkeys), the abusers become the victims because we obeyed God and not man and went No Contact with fraudulent Christians who are also our abusers!

      You gave a perfect breakdown in your reply to snapdragon about the gaslighting going on. The reports of the “repentance” of the abuser are meant to pressure and shame the victim. The “reporter”/ally of the KNOWN abuser all along, now claims repentance by the abuser. After her alliance remained intact with a known fraudulent Christian abuser! She has no standing to report anything to the victim! She wasn’t subjected to the damage done to the victim. Perhaps she is trying to assuage her guilty conscience for being willfully disobedient to God by being chummy with a known abuser? Trying to put lipstick on a pig? She certainly intends to remain chummy with the abuser-repentance or not. Most likely a fake report of real repentance. Willfully duped. More false words that have no meaning or change of an evil heart. Mocking God and thinking they can dupe Him!

      I fell for that too many times due to false teachings about forgiveness. And it really really caused more serious longterm damage than I ever imagined. God knew what He was doing by placing those Scriptures in His Word about not associating AT ALL with pretend Christians who revile/abuse or those who approve of them by their alliance with them.

      I am facing in the near future the deaths of both my abusers-my elderly parents. I wish not to even be told about anything having to do with them. They are not my family any longer. I will not attend their funerals and I’m at peace with that. Nor will I attend any funerals or any other gatherings of the allies of my abusers. I’d be a hypocrite if I attended, like everyone who does go and calls themselves “Christians”. Every one of them knows what they all are. And I’d be disobeying my God. Let the flying monkeys smear me all they want. They already do. It’s what they do at the behest of the abusers they idolize instead of putting God first.

      Through Christ’s Spirit, I’m free now of their bondage. I will not be under any yoke again. Especially with vipers, hypocrites and whitewashed tombs with dead men’s bones.

      1. Thank you for your thoughts, Z. I am so glad you are free. You are very courageous.

        I’m in a situation where the person who is still spending time with the reviler is also a target of the reviler, but doesn’t fully see what’s going on. I have tried to help her see, but she has been so gaslighted that she won’t let herself believe that this reviler is bad news – and isn’t changing. Pastor’s comment is very helpful. I’m trying to remember that if the reviler really repented, she would be going out of her way to show true remorse.

        1. Hi Snapdragon,
          Thank you for your supportive words. But I wasn’t always courageous. I was duped-NOT by being unaware of who and what they were and are-I knew from a young age and did my best to avoid them-but for decades I tolerated them because it was “family” (a family which physically and emotionally harmed me from the days I was in utero, reported by former abuser mother who was abused by former father while pregnant with me, which caused abnormal surges of stress hormones in my developing brain.) This abuse went on, eventually turning to more verbal and mental abuses up until the last violent attack on me and my husband as an adult when I finally went No Contact. And because I was taught so wrongly about forgiveness. False teachers abounded in my cult/clan of professing Christians as well as my churches. They idolized family, secrecy, marriage, forgiveness..in place of God. And I suffered greatly as a result. That alone is proof of the falseness of their teachings! The harm it resulted in. I have CPTSD, anxiety and chronic pain from the toxic longterm stress. God never wants harm to come to His true children.

          Also, in addition to Pastor Crippen’s excellent points in his answer to you, a real test of whether someone is a safe or unsafe person (repentant or unrepentant) is what they do when you or anyone else places boundaries on them and their abuse. When you state clearly what you will not accept and what the consequences will be if the abusive behaviors continue. Unsafe/unrepentant people will escalate their abuses and/or retaliate against you for daring to have firm boundaries. That’s what happened to me. I went No Contact for various lengths of time often over the years when abuses occurred. False repentances always caused me to think I HAD to forgive again. That led to the retaliatory violent final attack and then my permanent No Contact.

          It seems you may have answered your own question in your comment to me. Your friend IS still being abused and gaslighted! That can only mean any professions by your abuser that she is “repentant” are false. She is still an active abuser to your friend who can’t see it. That’s not repentance. It is “hoovering”-your abuser trying to draw (vacuum) you back in so she can abuse you again. That’s what happened to me time and time again. Possibly in retaliation for your firm No Contact policy. Abusers want the last word/action.

          It may or may not be the case, but I’d beware of any abuser’s claims to be repentant. It really just doesn’t happen no matter how we wish and hope we could have had a real family. And real Christian friends/relatives who choose to stand WITH us AGAINST evil. But that’s not the reality given who and what we are dealing with. Children of satan. Willingly disobedient and defiant.

          Praying for you, Snapdragon. I know it’s not easy when it’s family. But Jesus comes first and choosing to truly follow Him does involve a cost to us.

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