Summary: Repentance is about surrender, about admitting our helplessness and turning to God for His Spirit to change us, and then cooperating with God in His work. Repentance is about death to sin, about death to self, about making a choice to turn away from sin
A Journey of Repentance Part 2 – Surrender
Last Sunday I invited you to join me on a journey of repentance. Today, aside from being the day before Valentine’s day, is more importantly the first Sunday in the season of Lent, the period of time we set apart to prepare us for celebrating the death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. And so we are going to press the pause button on our series of sermons on a Christian view of issues in our society until after Easter, and continue down this Lenten road together.
I felt like God was starting something last week. It felt like we touched on something that the Holy Spirit wanted to explore with us further, like this was a path we need to travel down together, because it is a journey that leads to life, it is a path that leads us to wholeness and healing and freedom and forgiveness.
Defining Our Terms:
A little girl had great desire to join the church and the Pastor asked if she had experienced a change of heart. She answered "Yes."
"Were you a sinner before?"
"Are you a sinner now?"
Again she answered, "Yes."
"Well then, what’s the difference?"
After a brief moment of thought she said, "Before I was a converted to Christ, I was a sinner running after sin; now, I am a sinner running away from sin."
That is a pretty good definition of repentance. Let me give you another one: “that inward change of mind, affections, convictions, and commitment rooted in the fear of God and sorrow for offenses committed against him, which, when accompanied by faith in Jesus Christ, results in an outward turning from sin to God and his service in all of life.” (C.G. Kromminga, “Repentance”, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology.)
At the heart of the word “repentance” is the idea of change. Of heading one way, then stopping and heading the other way. And that is one of the reasons why this Lenten journey of repentance is a difficult one – it is about us being changed from our sinful actions and tendencies toward Godliness. And if, after this 40 day period of Lent, you are not changed, it has been a complete waste of time. A total failure. If we have not turned from sinful ways, if God has not been allowed to take great control of us and change us, then we have not discovered repentance.
Sin IS a Big Deal:
Last week we began the journey by gathering around the Lord’s table and remembering Jesus’ death and resurrection for us. The point there is to bring us back, to have us once again stand at Jesus’ feet while He suffers and dies for our sin, so that we are reminded that sin is a big deal. Sin destroys, sin brings death, sin kills our souls and deadens the life that the Holy Spirit longs to fill us with.
I remind us of this because while we know it in our heads, for many of us that fact does not translate into reality. Yes, we know sin is bad, but somehow we act as if it really isn’t any big deal. A little lie, no harm done. A measure of pride, well I did deserve it. Entertaining a lustful thought, no big deal because it is only in my head. Internet pornography, sharing personal things about others, being greedy and covetous, well, they don’t really hurt anyone, everyone does it, I’m only human, I deserve the bit of pleasure, I won’t get caught and even if I do I won’t get in trouble.