I was reminded of this saying today...
That always puzzled me as a child. What was the point of having a cake, if not to eat it? Of course I want to have it and eat it! Doesn't everybody? It turns out that it means you want to keep your cake whole - and at the same time eat it too. The two things are mutually exclusive. You cannot have it both ways.
But it is true - most people would like to have it both ways. A little boy steals the cookie, but when his mother appears he quickly stuffs it in his mouth while at the same time he says, "I'm sorry!" Adults would like to keep on doing whatever sinful things please them - but at the same time be right with God.
So they apologize. They quote scripture. They go to church. They profess faith. They are full of humility and religious platitudes. They say they have come to see the light and the error of their ways.
O.K. - GREAT! So how about putting that stolen cookie down instead of stuffing it in your mouth? How about breaking off your immoral relationship? How about reconciling with the wife you left? How about paying your child support? How about paying restitution? How about turning yourself in and doing your time?
No, they are not willing to do THAT! They want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to continue in their sin - but have God (and everyone else) forgive them because they said they were sorry. ("I SAID I was sorry," says the little boy as the mother starts to punish him.)
Does this matter? Is it addressed in Scripture? It sure is!
(Matthew 3:7–8 NKJV) ¶ But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance,
(Acts 26:20 NKJV) but (I) declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.
Notice that the call to repentance is coupled with a call to do things consistent with that repentance. You can claim to be repentant, but if you continue in the same sinful behavior as before, you reveal the fact that your repentance is just so many words.
People can be deceived, but God cannot. God sees the heart. He is not impressed with religious activities when the heart is unconverted.
(Psalms 51:16–17 NKJV) For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.