Repentance: Real vs. Fake

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Legalistic repentance: The heart will repent out of fear of consequences and out of a fear of rejection. “Obey or you will be rejected.”

vs.

Gospel repentance: You to repent because Jesus died for your sin, so you would not be rejected. In a sense, the gospel says, “How can you treat one like this who paid this cost so that you would not be rejected?”

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Legalistic remorse says: “I broke God’s rules,”

vs.

Gospel repentance says: “I broke God’s heart.”

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Legalistic repentance: Takes sin to Mt. Sinai

vs.

Gospel repentance: Takes sin to Mt. Calvary

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Legalistic repentance: Is convicted by punishment

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Gospel repentance: Is convicted by mercy

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Repentance out of mere fear is really sorrow for the consequences of sin, sorrow over the danger of sin—it bends the will away from sin, but the heart still clings.

But repentance out of conviction over mercy is really sorrow over sin, sorrow over the grievousness of sin—it melts the heart away from sin. It makes the sin itself disgusting to us, so it loses its attractive power over us.

—Tim Keller and J. Allen Thompson, Redeemer Church Planting Center Church Planter Manual, p. 190. Reformatted and edited for readability.

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