Posted by: forfreedomalone | 17/06/2017

The joyous freedom of repentance.

I received a message, yesterday, about my last post and it contains some interesting questions.
 
“How can you say that the church needs to repent? We repented when we were saved, it’s done, it’s finished. Are you saying we are not saved? Are you saying we are to go about looking for sin in our lives all the time and promising never to do that again?
 
You are just heaping burdens on people and causing them to be sin conscious.”
 
Interesting questions.
 
Repents means “to change one’s mind”. That’s it.
It does not mean to make promises. Promises have nothing to do with it at all.
I didn’t used to like olives. Now I do. I’ve changed my mind about liking olives. Changing my mind means I didn’t like them, now I do. At no point in the process of changing my mind did I make any promises about no longer not liking them, I just liked them.
 
When we planted out garden I was not at all convinced by where my husband wanted to put the fountain. Now I believe he was absolutely right. I’ve changed my mind. No promised were involved on any level.
 
When one repents it is because the heart has changed towards what one believed, thought or did before. One held to path B, now one is on path C. It is as simple as that.
However, to change from path B to path C one needs to see that one is going the wrong way, or that a slight course correction is required.
 
But there is a step involved before that change of direction and that is getting onto path B in the first place.
 
A sinner cannot go from paths B to C because he is not on path B in the first place.
No matter how much he wants to “change his mind” about his sinful ways there is nothing he can do that is not achieved by pure strength of will. If he has a very strong will he may be able to effect change to some degree or other, but if he is not strong willed, he simply cannot change. He has a sin nature and there is nothing he can do to change that.
 
In order to go from path B to path C we need to first leave path A and we do that by coming to God in repentance. God gives us a new nature, his nature, so that we now have the power and ability to live differently.
We have been moved onto path B. We cannot do this, it is a work of the grace of God, but now that it is done we have the ability to navigate our way to the end of the journey.
 
Some will say that once we have this new nature everything is different. We are totally new creations and living differently is so natural that we can’t help it.
I have a problem with that and I believe the Bible does too.
I also believe that telling people this is what is heaping burdens on their backs (although I fully accept that is not quite what Jesus meant when he used that expression).
 
Paul told Christians to “reckon” the old man dead. “Reckon” means “to consider it so”. We use this expression when we say, when asked if we will take on a task for someone, “Consider it done”. It isn’t done, it hasn’t even been started, but they are being asked to consider it done, to no longer worry about it, to let go of it. So it is with our old man. He is not dead by any means until we kill him off by total neglect.
 
Ever time he raises his head over the edge of his grave we are to remind him he is dead and turn away from him. We are to repent.
 
Paul explains this whole process in Romans 7.
In verse 17 he says that when he does things he should not do it is not him, but the sin within him which has risen up again, His old man is trying to get out of the grave.
From verse 22 on he explains that in his inner man ( his new man) he delights in the law of God, (in all that righteous purity of who God is) but his “members”, as he put it, his body, thoughts and speech, he is still a slave to the law of sin. Oh wretched man that he is!!
 
But wretched man he is not, because he has within him the Sprit of life which overcomes everything.
He can make course corrections whenever they are needed.
 
In the first verse of Chapter 8 he tells us that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The Greek word translated as ‘condemnation’ is the word katakrima, which means “worthy of the dead sentence”. If a prisoner was ‘condemned’ they were going to die.
We who are in Christ Jesus will never receive this sentence. We have been redeemed from the clutches of death and transferred to the path of life and it is because of this that we are able to see, own and change what needs correcting as we go along.
 
In the book of 1 John, John tells us that if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. Some will tell us that those words were written to the lost, but that is not so. The truth was never in them, so there is no deception, there never was any truth in them in the first place.
John was writing to believers. He was reminding them that taking the attitude that we are saved and now perfect in every way was a deceptive attitude, it was a lie.
 
If we are just honest with ourselves we can see, daily, where we fall short of the glory of God. Frequently it is in very small things. Did you cut someone off and get that last parking space? Did you put your hot coffee mug on someone’s table without a coaster? Did you let the cashier charge you less for the item than you knew, or suspected, it should be? Did you pass on a prayer request to half a dozen people without being asked to do so?
 
We are not talking about losing your salvation, nor about saying you are not saved. We are talking about using a powerful tool which only the saved have. The powerwasher of the soul, which is repentance.
 
We are not making promises to anyone. We are not saying “I will NEVER do this again”, we are saying, “I see that what I did was wrong, I am admitting that fact (owning it) and I am committing to doing things differently in future by the grace of God”.
 
When the heart is changed, from pride and arrogance to one of softness towards God, the heart will tell us, “that was wrong, you need to repent, you need to change your mind about that, change your direction of travel and change it now, before you are too far off track.”. We want our hearts soft to God, so that we can hear his every word.
We are not navel gazing, looking for things about which to repent, but we are willing to repent when things need changing.
 
The church as a whole needs to repent over many things. There are millions who have been hurt by the church, who have been rejected and abused by the attitude the church has taken to them. We have not shown love, towards our brothers and sisters in Christ, as Christ himself loved us.We have created divisions in the ‘family’ and we have done nothing to heal them.
 
We use fancy language to cover it up and we use fancy theology to say we don’t need to confess or repent over it, but the truth is we do need to confess and repent.
We need to confess and repent to God that we have fallen short of what he commanded us to do, because if we do not we will continue on the wrong path. We are most certainly saved, we are on path A, but it is time to change direction and head to path B then C then D, as we progress along His Way. We cannot walk in His Way if we are not saved, it simply isn’t possible. But now that we are, we need to check our compass and directions.
 
Repentance is a joyous thing. Not a burden.
We are ABLE to change direction by simply seeing, owning and wanting to. It is God’s grace which makes it possible, but we have to be willing to see that there is a need.
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