Blog #27: Understanding Repentance
God is realistic: He sees all things! He knows we are unable to live up to His standards of holiness even after we repented of our sins, and you know why? It’s because although our spirit was made perfect when we received Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior (see Hebrews 10:14), we still wear a robe of flesh (see Psalm 103:14); Rom. Chapter 7) and we still have a mind that needs to be renewed toward complete transformation (see Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18). Our perspectives, mindsets, beliefs in our soul (we are spirit, soul and body, see 1 Thess. 5:23) need to be renewed with God’s Word and by God’s Spirit. To believe that repentance means we must display perfection from the inside out at all times just isn’t realistic and it is not in line with the Gospel. If this is what you believe that repentance means, you are in for disappointment and ultimately for ruin because the law you are placing yourself under “Thou must be perfect or you are doomed” will bring condemnation for you in the end. The reality is, you fall short (see Rom. 4:15; Rom. 3:23). We must understand repentance if we want peace. We must understand repentance if we want to understand the sound doctrine of the new covenant of grace. Perfect performance at all times was required under the old covenant of the Law (see Gal. 3:10). The New covenant requires repentance (see Mk. 1:15). This means, God demands a changed heart; a coming in agreement with God concerning God and concerning sin. The fruits for repentance are a submission of our heart to God and to His work of sanctification. Grace is unmerited, which means grace takes us just the way we are and then begins to teach us to say ‘no’ to ungodliness and worldly passions (see Titus 2:11-12). God legally, through Christ’s perfect sacrifice at the cross on our behalf, made possible for us to come to Him just as we are, enabling a process of change, of growth. Let’s remember again that repentance means that we have turned with our heart from our sins and that we are therefore now pliable in the Lord’s hands. We are willing and desiring to walk toward perfection and we recognise that we can’t do it apart from Him (See Jude 1:24; John 15:5). In order to come into relationship with Him, all God demands is our confession that we are sinners and our choice to turn from our sins, to yield to the Lord from henceforth, and to believe the Gospel—to place our faith in Jesus Christ, making Him our Lord and Savior. All of this is made legally possible by God through Jesus’s work at the cross (see 2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus is the perfect Lamb of God who was sacrificed on our behalf (see Rev. 5:6); He fulfilled the law perfectly (see Matt. 5:17-18). Thus all God requires at new birth, so that we can enter into covenant with God through Christ, is the admittance that we are sinners, the choice to turn from our sins and the placing of our faith in Jesus and what He has done on our behalf at the cross.
Repentance is also a life-style for us Christian as, on our journey toward perfection, we mess up, we fall, we learn, and we get back up again, we growth and we mature. We learn to walk, and we are transformed from glory to glory. All the while, we are right with God through faith in Christ (see Romans 5:1). That’s all we can offer Him realistically and God knows it. Thus God requires of us everything: He asks for our heart, for our love, for our complete devotion to Him, for after all, He deserves nothing less than our heart, not to mention that He is our Maker and not to mention that Christ died for us: we owe Him our lives. That is the simplicity that is in Christ: a wholehearted and sincere and pure devotion to Christ (see 2 Cor. 11:3 NKJV; 2 Cor. 11:3 AMPC); He does the rest. Repentance means that we are agreed with God (see Amos 3:3) and thus we walk together with Him. Though we fall short, we are agreed with Him; we desire perfection and we are hungering for it and are pressing toward it out of love for God and love for righteousness. When the Lord places His finger on something that needs to change in our lives, we are convicted of sin, not condemned. I love John Bevere’s couple of quotes here: "There is a great difference between condemnation and conviction. Condemnation will speak to DESTROY your identity in Christ, conviction will speak to STRENGTHEN your identity in Christ." And "Conviction will never attack your identity." As children of God who have chosen to turn from our sins, we have embarked the journey of change, of transformation, of sanctification; God’s Spirit molding and shaping us in the image of Christ from glory to glory. We are repented children, pliable in the hands of the Master Potter. Our hearts are in agreement with God concerning sin and concerning God. We are no longer under law’s demands; the law has nothing to say to us anymore. The law is out of the way; nailed to the cross of Christ (see Col. 2:14). Thus, as children of God whose heart is changed, when we mess us, we are not condemned anymore (see Rom. 8:1), instead we are convicted. In Christ, we have a new heart, a new nature, we have God’s Spirit living in us (see Ezekiel 36:25-27). The Father chastises the sons and daughters He loves in order to produce the yielding of the peaceable fruit of righteousness (see Hebrews 12:11). God the Father continues to love, cherish and embrace His children all throughout the work of sanctification. We belong to Him, we are part of His household, and we are part of His family.
As I conclude this blog, repentance means to change one’s mind concerning sin and God; it means to come in agreement with God concerning sin and God. Repentance involves a change of heart, a new perspective, and new desires. Someone who is repentant has a new heart attitude. Repentance is the submission of oneself to God. The fruit of repentance is the submission to the work of sanctification; the embracing of the work of sanctification. Repentance doesn’t mean perfection, but it certainly produces the hungering for and the pressing toward perfection. Repentance is to be submitted to the work of the Holy Spirit, toward perfection. The fruit of repentance is progress, not a sterile religious perfection.
Be encouraged, there is hope! There is a way out.
—Kathleen Kaczmarek, Compelling Hope Ministries