Repentance

Hello again Brothers and Sisters.

I have not forgotten about finishing the redefining the Gospel three-parter.

The last third has been keeping me thinking…that married with poor stewardship on my part in the last couple of weeks has kept me away.

I am truly sorry for that and would ask that you forgive me for not continuing as I should have.

However, before finishing the redefinition of the Gospel, God put something else in front of me. As I firmly believe in teaching what I am taught, here is what God reminded me of. It was not only well timed…but also a very necessary reminder.

I pray that it will remind you as well as it reminded me.

Repentance is complete change of orientation in regards to sin. Put simply, repentance is the whole-hearted rejection of sinful things, and the turning of the heart towards God. It is through repentance that our relationship with God is restored in the aftermath of sin. This repentance is not remorse, or a desire to avoid punishment for the sin we have committed, but a total rejection of sin and the desires leading to it, and a true desire to live a life that is in fellowship with God.

Repentance is first experienced in salvation, and is continued in the life of the believer. Repentance is a vital component of faith, as without a turning away from sin, there will be no communion with God, and without communion with God, there is no faith.

The practical expression of this in the our life is shown in how we respond to committing sin. As shown in 1st John 1:8-10, first, we must understand that we have sinned. If we try to justify our sin, or claim that it really isn’t sin, we are lying to ourselves, and making God, who has declared in His Word that all of us sin, and has made His requirements for righteousness very clear, a liar. The first step of repentance is an understanding of the sin we have committed. This understanding is not a sorrow at being punished, or a simple acknowledgement of wrongdoing, but a recognition that we have engaged in the same behavior that required Christ to die, a behavior that is horrendous and repugnant in the eyes of God.

Second, 1st John 1:9 tells us that if we confess our sins, God will cleanse us, and forgive us of all unrighteousness. Therefore, knowing that we have sinned, we are to confess our transgressions. This confession has two parts. Clearly, John is speaking of confessing our sins directly to God through prayer. This is how our relationship with the Father is restored in the aftermath of sin, and is the most important part of confession. However, there is a second, often overlooked part of confession, which is detailed in James 5:16, where believers are commanded to confess their sins to each other, so that they may be healed. Confession of sins to other believers is vital, as it is through the support, prayer, and mutual accountability that is born out of the confession of sins to one another that we “Stimulate one another to love and good deeds,” as the author of Hebrews exhorts. Confession of sins to the Father yields spiritual restoration, and the confession of sins to our brothers in Christ brings discipleship and accountability.

Lastly, repentance is the turning away from sin. Having confessed our transgressions to both God, and our brothers, we must turn away from the sin we have committed. This turning away is a rejection of not just the sin, but the behaviors and circumstances leading up to the sin. However, rather than simply removing whatever objects and circumstances cause us to sin (Matthew 5:29-30) we need to replace whatever we were previously engaged in with Christ. This replacement comes from time spent in Scripture, and time spent fellowshipping with Christ through prayer, and time spent with other believers.

It is important to remember though, that as soon as we have confessed our sins to God, we are instantly forgiven, and restored to full fellowship with the Father. Through Christ’s death, God has removed our sins “As far as the east is from the west,” (Psalm 103:12). While sin in our lives before we were saved resulted in us being condemned to hell (Romans 3:19-20), now, while sin in our lives as saved believers may break fellowship with God (Romans 8:12-13), it does not change our standing with God (Romans 8:33-39). Therefore, when we sin, after we have confessed it to God, we should not focus on our sin, past analyzing it to determine what we need to do to prevent it from reoccurring. To remain guilt-ridden and focused on the sins we have committed is another tool used by Satan to keep us ineffective. As soon as the sins we have committed have been confessed to God, we instantly restored to full fellowship with Him, as if we had never sinned. (Note, this does not absolve us of the physical/temporal consequences of our sin, but does remove the spiritual consequences of sin, namely the breaking of fellowship with God.)

Therefore, in the life of the believer, repentance should go something like this:

  1. Realize you have sinned. This can happen though being confronted by other believers, being convicted by the Holy Spirit, or whatever method God uses.
  2. Confess your sin to God through prayer. Confess with a contrite heart, not out of obligation, or sorrow stemming from the consequences of sin (We shouldn’t be confessing because we want to avoid punishment, or because we’re sorry we got caught, but because we genuinely want to be restored to fellowship with God.)
  3. Confess your sins to others. If your sin has directly impacted someone, you should go and confess your sin to them (Matthew 5:23-24). Also, you should have other believers in your life that you trust to guild you and support you that you confess your sins to.
  4. Turn from your sins. The other believers you confess your sins to should help you with this step. They should be holding you accountable for turning from your sin. Whether that is by asking you about your struggles with that sin on a regular basis, or setting up safeguards to help prevent you from falling back into sin, these believers should assist you in removing sin from your life. However, the primary method that we remove sin from our lives is through the Holy Spirit. It is through fellowship with the Holy Spirit that our minds and desires are changed from sin to God. Therefore, to fellowship with the Holy Spirit, we need to spend time in prayer, (Talking with the Holy Spirit) and reading Scripture (The Words of God given to man through the Holy Spirit).
  5. Move on. This is the last and in some cases the hardest step. Without guilt, or focusing on what we have done, we need to continue living and ministering to others. This is not to say that we should ignore our sin, rather, we need to see how we fell into sin, what we need to do to keep it from happening again, and then we need to praise God that we have been forgiven for it. To say that we need to do some act of penance, or continue to feel guilty about our sin is to say that Christ’s death and sacrifice is not enough to absolve us of the result of our sins. Christ’s death is enough to cover all of our sins, indeed His death covered our sins while we were still unrepentant(Romans 5:8) so having confessed and turned away from our sins, we need to go out and minister.
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