Truth On Fire

Site Search:

P.O. Box 432    |    Spring Hill, TN  37174    l    (904) 200-1671

Home  |  Gospel  |  Pastor's Pen  |  Doctrinal  |  Calvinism  |  About

No Place of Repentance

The technical definition of repentance is “a change of mind.” Its contextual usage in scripture goes beyond its basic etymological meaning to include an altered disposition of the will that translates into a change in one’s behavior. Moreover, the scriptures teach us that while repentance is a prerequisite for forgiveness, it does NOT necessarily guarantee restoration of that which might have been forfeited or lost as the result of a sinful act.

In Hebrews 12:16-17, the writer warned readers about the danger of being a “profane person” and cited Esau as an example: “Who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.” No place of repentance! Esau lost something personal, precious that he could never recover.

There is a distinct difference between repentance and the place of repentance. Repentance is that change of mind following an act of sin that realigns the mind of the perpetrator with the mind of God accompanied by a measure of godly sorrow. The ‘place’ of repentance is the actual condition or status that existed prior to being altered by the profane act. It does NOT mean that Esau was incapable of repentance. Nor does it mean he could not have received forgiveness for his profane act. What it DOES mean is that it was impossible for Esau to recover what he had lost. The birthright was gone. Remission of sin is no guarantee that a place of recovery will follow.

The twelfth chapter of Hebrews has been variously interpreted as to its application. Some allege the primary application to be Jewish brethren who had professed Christ without possessing Christ. It seems to me that its content is applicable to both true and faux believers alike. If the shoe fits, wear it! A genuine child of God can struggle with profane tendencies (that formerly ruled his or her life) long after conversion. The context identifies two other potential trouble spots—bitterness and fornication. What a trifecta! They are itemized in connection with profanity for good reason. Some who named the name of Christ were fornicating, allowing themselves to become embittered, and defiling others in the process.

The scripture teaches us that the underlying cause for Esau’s forfeiture of blessing to younger brother Jacob was a profane streak. One is profane when he or she relegates the sacred to common status. Profanity is essentially a distorted value system that alters one’s perception of reality. Esau was profane long before he returned hungry from his hunt. So when faced with the option of abating his appetite by selling his birthright, it was no more difficult than flipping a switch. His choice was made in a moment of time, but changed his future for all time.

Esau “sought” to recover his inheritance “carefully with tears” (12:17). The words “sought carefully” are the translation of the verb ekzeteo (“to seek out”). The prefix ek intensifies the verb to indicate a vigilant search. Esau’s search was an exhaustive one. It was no nonchalant inquiry from which the unsuccessful petitioner might walk away saying, “Oh well!” Peter used the very same verb to describe the OT prophets who “enquired” and searched the scriptures diligently to learn all they could about the salvation to come (1 Peter 1:10). The fact that Esau sought a remedy for his dilemma with energy comparable to that of truth-hungry prophets says it all.

The word “afterward” tells a sad story. It represents the time when the blessing should have been inherited. No individual has ever been more qualified for the “Shoulda-Coulda-Woulda” lament. But thoughts of “afterward” never entered Esau’s mind as he opted for that one morsel of meat. He sacrificed his future upon the altar of the immediate. Have you ever patronized your favorite BBQ joint or Buffet and wondered “Why did I do that?!” AFTER wiping out your third plate of all-you-can-eat ribs or fried chicken? Most of us have done so multiple times. Twenty-four hours afterward your bloated stomach is no longer an issue. But trading a birthright (or other precious possession) for a mess of pottage (or other fleeting pleasure) will have you asking that heart-sickening query for the remainder of your life!

How can one avoid tendencies toward the profane? Or if one has been guilty of a profane act and lost something of inestimable worth in the process, how can he or she avoid a repeat performance? The answer can be found in regular ingestions of the truth coupled with prayer and meditation—a godly exercise that brings and keeps the mind in sync with the mind of God. Synchronization of this sort arms the believer with wisdom and strength that he or she can tap into at the moment of temptation. The wherewithal to nurture a profane-free character via daily vigils at the throne of grace is a sacred privilege no believer should neglect. Failure to do so can cause us to “fail of the grace of God” (12:15) and set us up to forfeit something irreplaceable after a profane act has run its course.


Copyright and Contact Statement