How can we distinguish between true repentance and false repentance â€“ the â€śpretenseâ€ť of verse 10? In the moment when the words are spoken, we donâ€™t really know.
The only way to distinguish between returning with a â€śwhole heartâ€ť and returning â€śin pretenseâ€ť is by looking at the actions that come after the words.
True repentance bears two sorts of fruits:
- the first is ethical â€“ truth, justice, and righteousness (4:2);
- the second is missional â€“ when Godâ€™s people repent, the nations glory in the Lord (4:2).
Our Shorter Catechism says it well: â€śRepentance unto life is a saving grace whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, does, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it, unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience.â€ť
The Catechism captures very well the central point of Jeremiah 3: Repentance is a saving grace whereby a sinner turns from sin unto God. Repentance is a turning. The word translated â€śreturnâ€ť is simply the Hebrew word â€śshub â€“ which means â€śto turn.â€ť It is sometimes translated â€śturnâ€ť â€“ sometimes â€śreturnâ€ť â€“ and sometimes â€śrepent.â€ť