INSINCERE REPENTANCE

“And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD.”
Jeremiah 3:10

In the verses prior to this, the Lord is comparing the spiritual unfaithfulness of Israel with that of Judah. He called Israel to repent, to turn to Him, and yet she did not hearken to Him. Our text tells us “Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly.” Judah’s repentance was incomplete. The word “feignedly” means “with falsehood, a sham, or deceitful.” Judah’s repentance was not sincere, but only hypocrisy. It was a show, a display, but not a reflection of what was truly in her heart. She did not turn to the Lord “with her whole heart.”

We might call this INSINCERE REPENTANCE. The nation of Judah exhibited only half-hearted repentance and did not turn to the Lord completely, only partially. They still wanted their sin. Their hearts were still in love with the idolatry and spiritual adultery that had plagued them. They were not fully persuaded as to the wickedness of their sin and the worthiness of the Lord for their complete obedience. INSINCERE REPENTANCE means that a person is not fully convinced about his decision. He is not completely devoted to God, and he does not fully abhor his sin. Therefore, his repentance is not complete. This person is double-minded or undecided.

In order for our repentance to be sincere and acceptable, we must genuinely want to forsake our sin and turn to the Lord. A person who still wants his sin more than he wants fellowship with God is not repentant. Repentance includes a change in one’s mind. That change of mind is both toward sin and toward God. He can say the right words and even appear to be repentant externally, but still it is not settled in his heart. A show of reformation is sometimes confused with repentance, but time will reveal the difference. It may look like repentance, but God sees the heart. He knows the difference.

Repentance does not mean that we have turned from every sin and will never sin again. This would be sinless perfection, which is a state at which we will never completely arrive in this life. INSINCERE REPENTANCE is hypocrisy. It is trying to be one thing before others that is not true in our hearts. God is looking for those who are sincere and whole-hearted in their worship as well as their service.