Discourse on Repentance, pt. 2: Repentance
What is repentance? I know we’ve all heard the term at least in passing. Since the Lord elaborates on it in many places throughout the Bible, I wonder why it seems to be so overlooked in the pulpit today. Is it merely feeling sorry for doing wrong, or is it more? Furthermore, why do we need to repent?
In James 1:22(a), the Lord says, “But prove yourselves doers of the Word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” How does this relate to repentance? First, we need to abolish the misconception that confession and repentance are the same thing. Both are important, but where confession is baring our souls to the Lord, repentance is making a change. What areas does this cover? Let’s look to the Word.
It’s easy to let sinful thoughts grow, but we are called to “take every thought captive to Christ (b).” This action, in essence, is how we repent of our sinful thoughts. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind (c).” When we surrender our thoughts to Christ, sin has no place to take root.
Now, I don’t know how many of you are like me, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten into trouble for not controlling my tongue. The Word says, “The tongue holds the power of life and death” (e), and even as one small spark can burn down a forest (d,f), so can the tongue destroy those around us. To repent in word is to change the way we speak. Thus, “May our speech be seasoned with salt (g).”
Sinful deeds are broken into two categories, what we have done, and what we have left undone – sins of commission and omission. It is no more sinful to mug someone than it is to stand by and watch someone get mugged and do nothing to help. Repentance, in this regard, involves both turning away from the sinful actions which have dictated our lives, AND getting up, going out, and fulfilling what the Lord has commanded us to do. This brings us to the next point, loving God and loving others.
In the Gospels, we are commanded to “love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. (h)” These are listed as the greatest and second greatest commandments. If we do not fulfill these, we have sinned, and to repent of this, we must change the way we interact with the Lord and those around us. Lastly, let us discuss why we repent.
Why DO we repent? Well, if the mere fact that God commands us to is not enough, let’s have a little talk after the service. In all seriousness, though, if the driving force behind all we do is something other than bringing God glory, we need to repent of worshiping idols. The only things we do on this earth that are of any eternal significance are the things we do for the Kingdom, and when we delight in God’s will and walk in His ways, He will delight in us. To God alone be the glory!
(a) James 1:22, (b) 2 Cor. 10:5, (c) Rom. 12:2, (d) James 3:6, (e) Prov. 18:21, (f) James 3:5, (g) Col. 4:6, (h) Mt. 22:37, Mk. 12:29, Lk. 10:27