Repenting…

 

We R Repenting! Notice I didn’t write, We have repented,  but  We R Repenting. There is a difference.

R life must be one of repentance. This is a change from popular thinking about repentance, but it is true. Repenting is not a one-time thing, or just when we think we do bad things, but a constant. For all of life is repentance. Many people think of repenting as coming forward in church and bending your knee and telling God your sorry. I want to show you that that is only half right.

Martin Luther (the great reformer) began the Reformation by nailing “The Ninety-Five Theses” to the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral (the Catholic Church). The very first verse of the theses was: “Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ…willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”

What did Luther mean “entire life…repentance”?

Luther understood repentance. He recognized that the only way we grow, the only way we make progress in the Christian life is by repentance. When our life is repentant, we see the best sign that we R indeed growing. For if we are in a constant state of repentance: arrogance is dead, our will is suppressed and we are humble to the will of God.

Many of us think we understand repentance, I used to think I did…then I read the Bible. So for us to understand how repentance really works and how repentance affects, transforms us…we must define repentance (according to God) and make distinctions between what we think repentance is and what it really is.

First let us see how Repentance is defined by God and then defined by ourselves.

God defines Repentance as taking full responsibility for the sin and turning from the idol we serve to the true God.

Most people define Repentance as keeping God happy by saying sorry and hoping God will continue to bless you and answer your prayers.

The proof for this is by our actions. How many of us have sinned this week? Raise your hand? It’s amazing that even though we know we each sin daily, we don’t want to even admit we sin on a regular basis…if we won’t even take credit (admit that we sin) we truly don’t repent of sin, rather we hope that if we say sorry God will just let it slide this time.

That is religious repenting. It is self-righteous. Repentance becomes a form of atoning for our sins. Repentance in religion is an attempt to convince God that we are sorry and deserve to be forgiven because I said “sorry.” Repentance according to our human nature is self-centered and we are sorry for the consequence of of sin. Repentance according to God is God-centered and we are sorry for the sin itself.

To understand repentance we must see that in our human nature, our old man, our self-will is sorry for the consequences of sin not sin itself. We don’t want punishment and we want to avoid sin for that reason…whereas God tells us that sin brings death and condemnation. Sin therefore displeases and dishonors God, that is what we should want to avoid.

How does one live a life of repentance? 

The Bible shows us the path to be Repenting. The Bible teaches us some truths about repenting that we must understand.

  • God forgives because He is “just” not because we are “sorry.”

 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:5-10 ESV)

John makes a clear point that we must walk in the light. And those that say they walk in the light but do not, don’t know the light. Many people deceive themselves by thinking they r better than they R. Here John is stressing the point to the Christian that you must confess our sins, initially to receive salvation and then to maintain fellowship with God and with one another.

God is faithful and just to forgive.

God is the one who is perfect not us. We must recognize that when we go to God, He doenst have to forgive us because of us, rather He forgives us because of himself on the cross. John also makes it clear that persistent unrepented sin is not the mark of a Christian.

The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation. (Numbers 14:18 ESV)

  • Repentance is through Jesus Christ not from within ourselves. 

 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:1-8 ESV)

Paul here says that the flesh is weak.

Your weak without God. You can do nothing apart from God…even repentance. 

I have heard many a person say “that God did his part and you have to do your part.” I understand what they mean to say but foundationally that is totally wrong. God is the one who gives no condemnation and God alone is the one who forgives and if not for God you could not repent. Why, because you are in the flesh. The flesh is weak and cannot please God…but God loves us, but God gave himself, but God poured out grace upon us.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1 ESV)

It is through Jesus we have repentance…not through pentance, not through rosary beads, not through church attendance or buying God off. Nothing you can do can earn your forgiveness. Repentance is only through Jesus.

  • Repentance gives peace (shalom) from God.

Our society wants a repentance that makes us feel better and makes God like a happy grandpa that smiles at us and buys us candy “cuz we are good.” But the Bible shows us that repentance gives us peace with God that makes us right with God. The expression “peace” has a much deeper meaning and connotation that the english word does. “Peace” to us means absence of conflict and turmoil. “Peace” to God meant that but also a positive blessing especially in terms of a right relationship with God. 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27 ESV)

John the beloved disciple, the one who wrote John 3:16, the most popular line Jesus ever said…”God so loves the World” records here just a few chapters later Jesus saying to the disciples that peace comes from repentance through Christ himself and into their hearts.

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26 ESV)

 

So what now…ask yourself some honest questions:

  • Do you think God owes you forgiveness? Do you think God owes you anything?
  • Do you repent because your sorry or because you sinned?
  • Do you think you can repent on your own? Change on your own? Live on your own? Breath on your own?
  • Do you have Shalom peace?

 

I am not perfect and I screw up often, most times intentionally. “All of life…repenting,” is something I am working on personally every day. This takes work, it takes faith, it takes everything to totally rely on Jesus for everything. So each day I have to remind myself that today is the day of salvation. Each day I have to ask forgiveness for my selfish pride.

Today I repented am repenting…

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