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Caution, this blog may make you rethink your traditional religious understanding of the Bible. It will help you fall more radically in love with a loving and gracious Father!
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
What is true repentance?
God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace. 1 peter 1:2
We have been in a short study I've entitled "C.C.R. Looking at the truth of condemnation, conviction and repentance." We have seen how condemnation comes to drive us away from God. Even if we in fact missed it in some manner condemnation will never bring change or work restoration.
We saw in the last post that the Holy Spirit only convicts the World of sin and believers of their right standing before God. This conviction reminds us of who are already in Him. This recognizing and identifying with who we already are is what brings change.
Today I would like to conclude with looking at Biblical repentance. What actually is repentance? In order to come to an understanding of the truth I will give the dictionary definition of repent and the Biblical definition of repent.
In the dictionary (here) we see the definition of repent is defined in this manner: to feel or show that you are sorry for something bad or wrong that you did and that you want to do what is right
Another interesting definition is the adjective form of this word. It means creeping or prostrate. It is derived partially from the word reptile, (hence, crawling, creeping and being prostrate). Coupling these two definitions together is what has shaped much of what the idea of repentance has been proclaimed to the Church.
This definition gives further explanation as to my earlier points that the goal of religion is simply to ensure you feel guilty or bad or sorrowful. If you don't feel sorrow then you haven't repented. This is the concept attached to the word repentance.
Thus when the preacher is crying out repent! Repent! To the masses it seems many are compelled to feel sorrow and guilt and shame. The idea presented is you must turn from your sin and feel sorrow or guilt and then God will forgive you, you rotten sinner!
Am I for folk feeling happy or content in behavior that hurts others? Of course not. Actions rooted in prejudice, greed, lust, or addictions aren't something to be celebrated. We all can agree we want to end these type of activities, especially when they are committed by Christians. The disagreement is how do we get there.
As I have stated before, guilt and sorrow and remorse alone will never produce change. Even this idea of telling folk to turn away from sin is actually putting the proverbial cart before the horse. Many in religious tradition place undue condemnation and fear on believers because they define repentance as turning from sin and never doing it again. If you repeat that sin then you haven't truly repented and God hasn't forgiven you. Religious tradition keeps God's people insecure and unconfident before God. Lets now look at the Bible definition of repentance.
19 Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.20 Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah. Acts 3:19-20
The Word here is commanding the masses to repent. Notice the order. It says repent of sin and then turn to God. So the act of turning is not the Biblical definition of repent. The word used for repent in the Scripture is the Greek word metanoēsate. It is from the root word metanoeó: You can see a full Greek definition here.
This word simply means to change one's mind. There you have it. This is the Biblical definition of repent or repentance. Why is changing the mind so important in the life of man? Everything begins with our thinking. Look at James 1. The Holy Spirit through James reveals that all our sins begins in the mind.
14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. James 1:14-15
James reveals sin begins with a desire inwardly. These desires are born in our thoughts. When we change our thinking these desires are not given power to conceive. For example, the temptation to commit sexual sin begins with a thought. Yet, if you change your thinking about the desire or temptation presented then that thought will not overpower you. In other words the thought comes get involved in this. The thought may sound enticing. If you change your mind and think differently, no this is not profitable. This is wrong, this isn't who I am. Then the negative thought has no more power. This isn't mind over matter. This is the Word of God ruled mind over wrong thinking. This is victorious thinking.
Did you know the enemy knows this truth? Look at a powerfully revealing passage.
3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4
Look at the work of the enemy. Take note he isn't blinding the actions of the lost. The enemy is blinding the minds of the lost. The enemy is after our thoughts and thinking. When the light of the good news of Jesus removes that blindness through the power of prayer and the Spirit, true repentance occurs.
This is the progression of true Biblical repentance. An unbeliever has the light shined to realize their need of a Savior. They change their minds about God and who He is. They open their hearts because they have changed their thinking about Him. After this inward change occurs then we outwardly see the turn from the things of the World system and darkness.
For the believer what does repentance look like? When I am engaging in behavior that isn't loving and self centered based the Lord corrects me with love and the truth from the Word. Then my thinking changes concerning this behavior. Oh, this is wrong, this is unprofitable. This behavior is unloving and out of character to who I have been made in Him. You see the inward change? This is what produces the change in behavior. I don't have to experience sorrow upon sorrow for every action.
This is what a repentant lifestyle is. When you realize you're in worry and anxiety, you quickly change your thinking. Oh, I am not trusting you God. I change my mind about this situation. I trust you to take care of it. See how simple it is? No guilt and shame weighing me down. If my deeds are hurting someone I will experience Godly sorrow that I didn't represent the Loving Father best in a particular situation. In those times it's ok to say to someone I apologize. I was wrong. In this life of grace and faith there is no shame or condemnation.
I trust this series has blessed you. We can live victorious in our life and thoughts. God is so in love with us. You aren't a disappointment to Him. Blessing and mercy follow you this week.