Remorse Is Not Repentance

At this, all Adonijah’s guests rose in alarm and dispersed. But Adonijah, in fear of Solomon, went and took hold of the horns of the altar. – 1Kgs. 1:49‭-‬50 NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

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Today’s devotional the continuation of the devotional titled, Activate Your Plans, where the need to move all plans that have been divinely inspired, from the conception and planning stages to activation stage was highlighted. In that devotion, the need to have personal control over the implementation process, if there is any intention to succeed was also highlighted. The none reliability of human support was also highlighted and in the case of Adonijah, the foundation scripture for today’s devotion informs of the instant disappearance of all those who initially gave support to Adonijah in his rebellion, while Adonijah himself ran towards the altar and held on to the horns pleading for forgiveness. The people also added their voices to his plea before King Solomon stating that his action indicated fear for the king and King Solomon accepted their pleas with a caveat that he will be killed if he was to repeat the act or any similar act in the future – 1Kgs. 1:52.

Having received pardon from the king, one would have thought that he would refrain from such rebellious acts but he never stopped scheming to have the throne for himself. In another attempt to have the kingship, he approached Bathsheba who is the mother of the king to convince her son to grant him permission to marry Abishag the shunamite, one of the wives of King David. Bathsheba who did not see anything wrong with the demand approached his son the king with the request of Adonijah but the King was not deceived – 1Kgs. 2:13-18. He was able to see through the request and the negative intention of his brother to claim to the throne by inheriting the wife of the King David, his father. This was probably another follow up plan by Adonijah his brother, Abiathar the priest and Joan, the commander of his army. He was not going to consider any pardon on this occasion as he promptly gave instructions to Benaiah son of Jehoiada, for Adonijah and Joab to be killed while Abiathar being a priest was de-robed of his priestly duties and sent on exile.

Whereas Adonijah was killed instantly, Joab ran towards the temple and in a repeat of the action of Adonijah during the first rebellion where they were all pardoned, he held on to the horns of the Altar, vowing to die there unless the king granted him pardon. This trick was not going to work on this occasion as the king gave orders that he be killed right there with his blood being on his head due to all the acts of dis-honour he had perpetuated ranging from the deceitful murder of Abner son of Ner and commander of the army of Israel to the killing of Amasa who was the commander of the army of Judah and to his dual acts of rebellion in conjunction with Adonijah. They could not get away with their rebellious acts this time around. Adonijah had put up the act of remorse on the first occasion but he was obviously not repentant and had succeeded in deceiving people with his act of remorse.

Most times Christians confuse the act of being remorseful to that of being repentant. Whereas being remorseful indicates a feeling of deep regret or guilt for an action, being repentant is a product of godly remorse and will include a resolution on the part of such an individual not be involved in such act again – 2Cor. 7:10. This act of godly remorse will be impossible for an individual that has the following character traits among others;
1. Inordinate ambition. Ambition is very necessary for anyone who desires for success in life. It serves as a motivation for the individual as it remains the target the individual is aspiring to. However every one with ambition must have reasonable and moderate goals as anything beyond that turns the ambition into a potential problem. It was not right for Adonijah to be aspiring to a position that was not vacant as the minimum he will have to do to achieve his ambition is what he did but may not mind committing murder to achieve it if that became the only way he could achieved his ambition. There is simply no way anyone caught in an act that was caused by inordinate ambition can be remorseful if the ambition is not moderated.
2. The one who is greedy cannot claim to be genuinely remorseful when caught. This is because the one who is greedy is never satisfied and always looks forward to having what belongs to others. Desperation to satisfy the greed will make such do anything and once caught may give the impression of being sober but there can be no assurance that such will not repeat the act if the opportunity is represented.
3. Vengeance is another reason why remorse cannot be taken for repentance. The one who is seeking for revenge may give the impression of being sober when caught in a failed attempt but there is no guarantee that such will not continue to seek other ways to get revenge. Until such an individual is successfully tutored on the need to drop the intention to get revenge, any act of remorse should be taken with a pinch of salt.
4. Hatred is an extreme dislike or disgust for someone. The target of hatred should expect very hostile reactions from the one who is hating. When the one who is hating acts in a manner that attracts condemnation of others, the tendency is for such to apologise in a remorseful manner but such acts is better seen as pure drama as the one who is hating will continue to put up such acts for as long as the hateful nature is still existing.

The Christian should never accept the impression of remorse presented by anyone in whom the above character traits have been confirmed just as a truly repentant Christian would be expected to be without such character traits. Avoid being deceived by mere outward expression of remorse by assessing such acts on the standard of the absence of such character traits in the one presenting such impression as the repercussion of such oversights can be grave. May God grant the wisdom to separate remorse from repentance and grant us all the honesty to be truly repentant rather than being just remorseful in Jesus name. Amen.

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