Spiritual Success or Distress?
Quarter 3, Lesson 4

Lesson Four

Why Do People Refuse To Repent?

Texts: Mark 10:17-20; Luke 15:29; Matthew 15:1-9; John 3:19,20

People resist repentance with determination! People who reject God refuse to repent. Christians resist repentance. Repentance requires change, and people fight change. The older we become, typically the more determined we are to resist change.

Nowhere do we resist change more than in our own lives. We understand what this means: "He (or she) is set in his (or her) ways!" It means the person is inflexible. It means the person is certain he or she is okay. It means the person never admits the need to change anything in his or her life. It means the person is stubborn and unyielding. "The world is wrong, but I am not! The church is wrong, but I am not! My family is wrong, but I am not! Everyone everywhere needs to change, but I do not!" As we increasingly become "set in our ways," we increasingly destroy our ability to repent.

The most certain element of life is change. Consider: conception to full term, unborn to born, infant to toddler, toddler to preschool age, preschool age to kindergarten age, kindergarten age to primary age, primary age to middle school age, middle school age to junior high age, junior high age to senior high age, senior high age to college age, college age to career age--CHANGE, ENORMOUS CHANGE! Consider: single adult to married adult, childless marriage to family with infants, family with infants to family with young children, family with young children to family with preteens, family with preteens to family with teens, family with teens to family with children in college, family with children in college to empty nest, empty nest to grandparents, grandparents to retirement years--CHANGE, ENORMOUS CHANGE!

The most certain element of spiritual existence is change. For the godly man or woman, every step in life from baptism to death involves the process of spiritual maturity. The godly person does not "learn it, get it right, and live by the same rules" throughout life. The godly person builds a relationship with God through Christ. The godly person constantly grows in his or her understanding of what it means to serve God. Service based on a relationship between the servant and his master is the product of growth. By its nature, growth is change.

An essential element of spiritual growth is repentance. By its nature, spiritual growth makes powerful, positive use of change throughout our lives to mold us in God's spiritual image by developing in us Jesus' mind and heart.

The problem? People want God's forgiveness without repentance. We want salvation, but we do not want to change. "Teach me the necessary rules and deeds without changing me!"

The reasons for people refusing to repent are numerous. Following are only four of the many.

Some people love what they have. Read Mark 10:17-22.

  1. How did this man approach Jesus (verse 17)?

  2. What question did he ask Jesus (verse 17)?

  3. What did Jesus tell him to do (verse 19)?

  4. What response did the man give (verse 20)?

  5. Jesus, feeling love for him, told him to do what else (verse 21)?

  6. Why did the man leave sorrowfully [in grief] (verse 22)?

  7. Would Jesus' instructions require repentance?

Some people are filled with a sense of their own goodness [self righteousness]. Read Luke 15:29.

  1. The angry, resentful older brother was filled with a sense of his own goodness.

  2. What did he say about himself? How did his view of himself contribute to his resentment?

  3. Did he need to repent? Explain your answer.

Some people love evil. Read John 3:19,20.

  1. Why did people reject the light that came into the world (verse 19)?

  2. The reason they loved darkness was directly connected to their deeds. How (verse 19)?

  3. Why do some people hate and avoid the light (verse 20)?

  4. Read Colossians 4:14 and 2 Timothy 4:10. What happened to the Christian Demas?

  5. Read Romans 1:18-32. How did God react to their love of evil (verses 24,26,28)?

Some people fail to see God's work in Jesus. Read Matthew 15:1-9.

  1. Who challenged Jesus about his disciples' religious behavior at meal time (verse 1)?

  2. Were they religious, knowledgeable people or ignorant, uninformed people?

  3. Jesus illustrated their use of traditional practice to make "null and void" one of the ten commandments. What was the illustration (verse 3-6)?

  4. Their hypocrisy was not based on inactivity, but on hiding the meaning of God's teachings. What Old Testament prophet prophesied about people like them (verse 7)?

    1. What did they do with their lips?

    2. What did they do with their hearts?

    3. Why was their teaching vain?

    4. Their practice: they treated long-standing human conclusions as if those conclusions were God's statements. Because they did this, how did it affect God's view of their worship?

  5. Did these religious people who accepted the authority of scripture see God at work in Jesus? Explain your answer.

Link to Teacher's Guide Quarter 3, Lesson 4

Copyright © 2000
David Chadwell & West-Ark Church of Christ

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