- Remorse or contrition for one’s past actions or sins
- An act or the process of being repentant; penitence
- Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 4:976-977
That being said, I wonder how often believers really truly stop and pause at the sight of repentance? I wonder how many of us have really truly tasted repentance.
I think often times, repentance is a word we as believers can so easily pass over as something that is no longer needed. The thinking is that I repented once when I first met Jesus and do no longer need to repent.
Have we not become comfortable within our sins? Have we not become comfortable within our sins to the point of not even recognizing them as sin anymore?
To be honest, I am so thankful for the cross. I need it everyday. (But not that grace would abound, hopefully.)
Recently, I have been thinking about the soundness of the Ten Commandments. What if we took a week and consciously tried to live strictly according to them? If we are honest, could we?
It reminds me of a quote by my dear friend John Fischer about sinners:
“Sinners are never cured; they simply decide to stop sinning … and it’s a daily decision.”
If this be the case, shall we not have a posture of repentance on a daily basis? Do we not need it?
In 1 John 1:8-10, John writes to believers in saying: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”
Starting here, I taste the beginning of repentance in the very taste of forgiveness from a deep heartfelt and honest confession. Is there anything more sweet to the taste?
Being forgiven when you don’t deserve to be… to be acquitted. Ponder.
But, as we see the beginnings of repentance here, we read within the definition of the word earlier in that Metanoeo can first mean “to note after, later”; it can then mean “to change one’s mind” or “adopt another view” or “to change one’s feelings”;
Viewing it through this lens, we then read in Romans 12:2 -> “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Did you catch that? “…but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” To change one’s mind is a part of repentance and here we see that God will do this, if we let Him. To see this come to fruition, one then needs to consider what the posture to “let” looks like when walking with Christ.
What I am seeing here on this journey towards repentance that lasts is that so far:
- We have confessed
- We have surrendered to Christ Jesus
- We let Him transform us and change the way we think
Now, check this out… He will also enable us and give us the power to live out this transformation He is doing in us:
“11 So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.12 Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.*” – 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12
All made possible by the grace of God. Is not grace a core component to the ability to repent? Not a grace that abounds, but rather a grace that abounds. Who are we kidding? We need it!
“Being a Christan is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer
So, what blocks your ability to truly repent, break the cycle of recidivism, and be free?
- What is your sin?
- What is at the root of your sin?
- What are you carrying in life that you were never meant to carry?
- Who needs to be forgiven?
- What needs to be confessed?
- Why do you feel guilt?
I came across these reflections on Common Characteristics of Pseudo-Repentance in a study from 2nd Samuel by Bob Deffinbaugh called Real Repentance.
- When we’re called on our sin, we are silent and walk away with a posture of arrogance.
- Resistance followed by a reluctant confession. (only after being further called on it)
- Fail to take responsibility of the sin and seek to pass off guilt to others.
- Seek to minimize the consequences of the sin. (to have no interest in the cause of the sin, or in its cure. Only concerned that the suffering be minimized.)
- Short lived. No change in attitude or action lasts. As soon as the pressure is off, and the danger seems to have abated, we return back to our sin, if not in the same form, in another.
With these all too common characteristics of pseudo repentance, what does true repentance taste like? Do we even know? Have we even ever tasted it? Would we recognize it?
It seems to me these all too familiar pseudo statements of repentance only lead to more spiritual atrophy. Why continue to live in fear of judgement rather than the humility of forgiveness? Yet we think we can continue with one foot in and one foot out. Yet, irregardless, God still moves.
Again, it is time we recognize that everything about us needs everything about Him. All of us and all of Him need daily communion within our very depths.
I believe that what the church needs right now more than anything is…
The church needs to be reminded of what repentance tastes like. In this, it will mean we got serious with our sins. It will mean we take responsibility for our sins and own the consequences of all that was broken left in the wake of our actions.
It means that forgiveness has our name written all over it and has been patiently waiting for us to come forward and seek it.
“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14
So what does all of this look like?
Isaiah 58:1-12 -> Do you see it?
“TRUE AND FALSE WORSHIP
1 “Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast.
Shout aloud! Don’t be timid.
Tell my people Israel* of their sins!
2 Yet they act so pious!
They come to the Temple every day
and seem delighted to learn all about me.
They act like a righteous nation
that would never abandon the laws of its God.
They ask me to take action on their behalf,
pretending they want to be near me.
3 ‘We have fasted before you!’ they say.
‘Why aren’t you impressed?
We have been very hard on ourselves,
and you don’t even notice it!’
“I will tell you why!” I respond.
“It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves.
Even while you fast,
you keep oppressing your workers.
4 What good is fasting
when you keep on fighting and quarreling?
This kind of fasting
will never get you anywhere with me.
5 You humble yourselves
by going through the motions of penance,
bowing your heads
like reeds bending in the wind.
You dress in burlap
and cover yourselves with ashes.
Is this what you call fasting?
Do you really think this will please the LORD?
6 “No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
7 Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
8 “Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind.
9 Then when you call, the LORD will answer.
‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
10 Feed the hungry,
and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
11 The LORD will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring.
12 Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls
and a restorer of homes.”
Friends, we have deserted ruins within our cities that need to be rebuilt. We have walls that need to be rebuilt. We have homes that need to be restored.
Friends, I believe this starts with repentance.
What does it taste like to you? What is it that you need to lay down?
My friends, life is a stack of moments and right now… this… this is your moment. For me, it sure is mine.