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Repentance and Restitution

Published on:

5 May 2014

MEMORY VERSE: “And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord. Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have take anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.” (Luke 19:8)

TEXT: Luke 19:1-10; Genesis 20:1-18

Let us ask ourselves, What is repentance? Repentance is an essential part of salvation process, requiring a sinner to turn away from the sin-ruled life to a life characterized by obedience to God’s word. First of all, the sinner hears the word of God, the word convicts him when the Spirit of God made him to compare his sinful life with the righteousness of God and found himself completely worthless. When a sinner realizes the sorrow and pains he had caused God for violating His laws and in the process, hurt others in his selfish and self-centered lifestyles, then repentance kicks in.

Repentance includes genuine remorseful expression of self in terms of sincere verbal and contrite expression that we call confession, that a times may accompanying weeping profusely. 2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation …” Repentance is also the sinner’s private and personal pleadings with God for forgiveness and reconciliation with Him and resolute determination to forsake sinful ways of life and begin to walk in newness of life.


Repentance means the gracious mercy of God that help sinners to locate the bridge of salvation that leads to the Kingdom of God. Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith…” This bridge was made of the precious blood of Jesus Christ. It spanned over the gulf of hell-fire and anchored in the presence of God. The sinner must walk in repentance on this bridge to the presence of God. John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Luke 18:13 “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Message of Peter to the sinner on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:38 “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Acts 3:19 “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.”

The message of salvation to the entire world is centered on repentance. Repentance will open the door of mercy and usher the repented person into the unlimited spiritual blessing of God. 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” It is the repented person that can have access to the throne of grace and cry “Abba Father” with assurance of answer. It is the repented person that God recognize as His “son” or “daughter.” That was why David in the old Testament did not take the precept of repentance for granted. Remorsefully he confessed his sins, prayed for mercy and forgiveness and pled for restoration. Psalm 51:1-12


What brought about the sudden changes in the characters of Zacchaeus? Restitution is one of the marks the newness in our Lord Jesus Christ. When Jesus Christ died for mankind on the Cross, an end came to the torment of sin in the spiritual realm. The grace of God that we lost in Eden became available once again to mankind. The relationship with the Creator that we lost in Eden became available to man who can cling to the Cross. In short, restoration is the underline nature, of the sacrificial mission of mercy in the ministry of Jesus Christ because He came to undo the damage the sinfulness of man had done to the entire human race and reconcile us back to God.

Among other things, Zacchaeus was so sure that he received the unmerited mercy of God in the visitation of Jesus Christ, the righteous and holy Son of God. His conscience reminded him that, If he wanted to continue dwelling in the joy of this sweet fellowship with the Son of God, his sinful characters and ways of life must change. 2 Corinthians 2:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

That was why Zacchaeus started to undo all the evil he had done unto humanity. He began this process of restitution by restoring all the ill-gotten gains he made through tax collection by four-fold according to the existing Mosaic law. He did not do it as a result of commandment of Jesus Christ. He was not compelled to do so, but he did so in order to get rid of every items he sinfully gain from his vicinity. Repentance removes sins from the heart, but restitution removes the objects of sins from our environments.


Restitution did not begin with Zacchaeus. It was not a New Testament doctrine alone. Leviticus 6:1-7; Exodus 22:1-4 The precept of restitution had been in existence right from the time of Abraham. It was an express commandment of God unto King Abemelech when he took Serah the wife of Abraham in the integrity of his heart. The Lord told him to make restitution. King Abemelech was an idolatry king, but he yeilded to the instruction of God. He restore the wife of Abraham and in addition Abimelech gave him other gift. Genesis 20:14 “And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and womenservants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife.”

One important aspect of restitution is the surplus gift that is demanded in addition to the actual value restored during restitution. This is obviously an expression of the fear of God and an effort to appease God as a sin offering–and this also pointed to the validity of the law of God.

When Zaccheaus declared in Luke 19:8, he was pleading before the Righteous Son of God that he will make restitution according to the Mosaic law in Exodus and Leviticus.

One may sincerely have a desire to make restitution in order to complete the process of repentance of the past sins, but become so difficult to execute due to the likelihood of resulting to so many problems. If you get to this point, please seek the counsel of your Pastor before you carry out your restitution. The Lord will guide His servant in order to counsel you righteously that will not put you into problems.

Let us pray–for contrite spirit of true repentance, to confess our sins, repent and totally forsake the sinful habits. Pray for courage to make restitution of all the ill-gotten gains.


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