Summary: understanding what repentance really is
September 16, 2018
Therefore, bear fruits worthy of repentance
How often do we pray for forgiveness and repentance? It is within our daily prayers at the Gunter house. In Matthew’s account of John the Baptist in Chapter 3, we come across a very interesting read: “Bear fruits worthy of repentance”.
Well, first let’s take a look at that word repent. Webster’s Dictionary defines it:
• to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one's life
• to feel regret or contrition
• to change one's mind
John preached repentance but more than regret; more than remorse. That first bullet definition comes close to what John was preaching. That is true repentance demands evidence of a changed mind and a changed life. As with our entire walk as Christians – the walk demands more than mere words.
At: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/how-to-repent-5-steps/, we read Pastor Joel Lindsey 5 steps to repentance. I highly encourage you to read the entire article. The 5 steps are:
1-Be honest about your need for repentance.
2-Acknowledge the danger of sin and damage of guilt.
4-Hide in God.
5-Seize the hope.
When we mess up, we are always sorry. But is our regret that we were discovered? Is it that we have embarrassed ourselves or worse? These are true feelings and we shouldn’t deny them. But, what repentance means is that we are sorry that we messed up in the first place. We are sorry that we that we disobeyed God and that we have offended HIM.
As we continue our study of the Life of Paul on Wednesday evenings, this very subject came up this week. We discussed confession more than repentance, but they go hand-in-hand. We are big believers in accountability and strive to be accountable to each other but we all realize that our primary accountability is to God.
To a person (me included) we admitted we all have skeletons in our closet that we would never share with another person. That doesn’t mean that we haven’t nor won’t share them with the Almighty Father.
Can we now see the fruit of repentance? Can we see how the effort that we put into sincere prayers of confession and repentance are of utmost importance.
Maybe we can look at it another way. When a miracle occurs, there is always some effort put forth on the part of those seeking. To name a few:
Healing a withered hand – “And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other.” Mark 3:5 The effort - “Stretch out your hand”
Healing of Palsy – “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins—He said to the man who was paralyzed, ‘I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.’” Luke 5:24 The effort – “arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”
Jesus turns water to wine. “Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the waterpots with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim.” John 2:7
Money to pay taxes. “Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a[a]piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.” Matthew 17:27
Repentance is more than simply admitting to a mistake. If we simply say the words without the effort to change our behavior and truly regret what we’ve done, it amounts to no more than a charade. We cannot escape the guilt and confusion that lingers with us.
About a year ago, Christianity Today Magazine published an article that recounted much of what Martin Luther had to say about repentance. Of course, Luther is known for nailing his theses on the front door of the All Saints Church. His major emphasis was to openly engage arguments against buying one’s way out of sin with money or by some deeds or good works.
What? Buy one’s way out of the consequences of sin? I am so guilty of this, at least in my childhood. When I was punished for bad behavior (and that was frequent) my punishment was to be confined to my room except for school and meals. My mother worked so I was alone, save siblings that would relish reporting on my violations, should they occur. How did I buy my way out?
At about age 6 or so, I would go to the kitchen and break out all the cook books. From them, I learned how to set a formal table. I then taught myself how to prepare elaborate meals and have them on the table ready for the family at dinner time. It worked! My crowning glory was a cherry pie with a lattice top crust.