Recently, in our discipleship series, I’ve been writing in these posts about what I’m calling the first three “r’s of discipleship.
Last week’s topic covered the first “r,” return.
How, despite our best efforts after we’ve turned everything in our lives over to Christ and His Lordship, there will be days and times that we still mess up.
And how that, when we do, our first instinct should be to return to the foot of the cross and a heavenly Father who loves and accepts us as we are, but too much to leave us that way.
And so, this week, let’s explore the second “R.”
Admittedly, it’s a bit tougher, really quite hard, in fact, and requires really that next step of faith and obedience in our walk.
It is the discipline of repentance.
And in addition to returning to Jesus, it’s another thing that the Bible encourages us to take seriously and engage in whenever and every time we sin.
One writer (unidentified) puts it this way, “Sin is an action that we perform on a daily basis. At times, we are unaware of committing these sins and continue to do so because of sheer ignorance. Yet, no matter how minuscule or serious it may be, a sin is a sin. No matter what. Stealing a mere penny off of the floor, for instance, can gradually lead to stealing larger amounts of money from innocent people. Greed and temptation eventually set in. This behavior and mindset are highly immoral and unacceptable. Therefore, to turn away from our sins and transgressions, we must come forward, surrender, and repent to our Heavenly Father.”
A dictionary definition of repentance suggests that it involves sincere regret or remorse.
Repentance is one of those terms the Bible references quite frequently.
Some passages speak of it being a “turning” as from our sin. Others of changing our mind, our hearts and, as a result our behavior.
Repentance does not just mean feeling sorry for something, especially then turning around and continuing to do it again and again.
Derived from the Greek word, metanoia, it means to have a complete change of mind and to, in fact, have a renewed mind in Jesus Christ. It means to genuinely forsake the old way of thinking and living and to humbly seek the Father’s will for your life.
The Apostle Paul, in Romans 12:2 (NIV) puts it this way: 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Ezekiel 18:30 states that:
“Therefore I will judge you. O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so, iniquity shall not be your ruin.”
Pastor Ira Lynn, in his 2018 post in Focus magazine says: “We must not take our Lord God for granted. He is an almighty Father who loves His children unconditionally. He is present at all times in order for us to seek help and guidance from Him. The act of repentance aligns with cleansing and purifying ourselves from our wrongdoings and should be initiated and incorporated throughout our lives.”
Ira goes on to ask, “Do we emphasize true repentance? Do we understand that repentance requires a real sorrow, a godly sorrow? A child has no remorse about stealing cookies until he’s caught with his hand in the cookie jar and the mother comes with the paddle. There’s something suspicious about that kind of repentance. It’s the repentance to avoid punishment. True repentance goes beyond a mere fear of punishment to what we call contrition. David said, ‘The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise’ (Ps. 51:17). True repentance is an awareness that we have done wrong, and it brings us to a choice to turn from our wrong.”
Ira then asks, “Why is repentance important in our lives?” And answers, “The reason it is of extreme importance, according to the New Testament, is that it is the indispensable requirement for entrance into the kingdom of God. If Jesus taught anything, he taught that it is absolutely essential for someone who has sinned against God to turn from that sin and repent. In fact, Jesus began his public ministry with these words,
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:14).”
There’s nothing more pressing and essential than repentance if one is going to escape the wrath of God. God calls every man to repent; it is not an option. Paul spoke of the “times of ignorance” but “now he commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).
Who does that include? Everybody.
We all have the responsibility; it is a hallmark of discipleship.
God meant what he said.
He requires repentance.
Christianity is not just information or emotion; it is a lifestyle.
It demands, not minor alterations, but a surrender of the will.
It demands repentance.
Once again, repentance means a correction of sin.
It means “to turn or to change.”
It is to make a U-turn.
Repentance is a decision to change the will and the proof of that change is actually the fruit of repentance.
A change of mind that does not affect lifestyle is not true repentance.
Repentance does not involve theological subtleties; it affects life (Luke 3:8-14).”
How can you check yourself to learn if you’ve truly repented each of your sins?
One who is truly repentant:
- Realizes in their heart that they have sinned against God and deserve to be punished.
- Agrees with God that they deserve judgment, hell and the wrath of God because of their sin.
- Understands that sin cannot exist in the presence of God for his Holiness will not allow it.
- Accepts the free gift of salvation by believing that Jesus Christ took all of our sin upon himself when he laid down on the cross on our behalf.
Repentance is not a one-time act, it is an attitude, a heart condition.
It needs to be repeated, each time we fail, until our sin habit is changed and truly overcome.
Repentance is having a broken, contrite heart.
It is being poor in spirit. It involves mourning our sins.
It is being meek, humble enough to acknowledge our sins and confess them.
Repentance is agreeing with God and it’s hard but worthy work.
In the immortal words of the great hymn, Amazing Grace, “…I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.”
Right here with you,