contrition (also translated as «penance») towards the gracious God is a change of heart, brought about by the Holy Spirit and rooted in the Word of God. Repentance involves awareness of one's own sin and accompanies a new life, sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ. (Acts 2,38; Romans 2,4; 10,17; Romans 12,2)
A terrible fear, ”was the description of a young man for his great fear that God had left him because of his repeated sins. "I thought I regretted it, but I kept doing it," he said. «I don't even know if I really believe, because I'm worried that God won't be forgiven me again. No matter how honest my repentance is, it never seems to be enough. »
Let's look at what the gospel really means when it speaks of repentance of God.
We make the first mistake when we try to understand this term using a general lexicon and regret the word (or repentance) open. We may even get a hint there that the individual words should be understood according to the time in which the lexicon was published. But a dictionary of the 21st century can hardly explain to us what an author who, for example, B. Wrote things in Greek that were previously spoken in Aramaic 2000 years ago.
Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary regrets the following: 1) turning away from sin and committing to the improvement of life; 2a) feel regret or contrition; 2b) Change of attitude. The Brockhaus encyclopedia defines remorse as follows: "A major act of repentance ... contains the turning away from sins committed and the intention not to sin anymore."
Webster's first definition reflects exactly what most religious people thought Jesus meant when he said “repent and believe”. They think Jesus meant that only those people who stop sinning and change their ways are in the Kingdom of God. In fact, it is exactly what Jesus did not say.
When it comes to repentance, the mistake is generally made that you think it means stopping sin. "If you had really regretted it, you would not have done it again," is the constant refrain that troubled souls have heard on the part of well-meaning, legally obliged spiritual advisers. We are told that repentance is "turn around and go the other way". And so it is explained in the same breath as turning away from sin and turning towards a life of obedience to the law of God.
By firmly imprinting on this, Christians with the best intentions set out to change their ways. And so, on their pilgrimage, some ways seem to change, while others seem to stick with super glue. And even the changing ways have the horrible quality of reappearing again.
Is God satisfied with the mediocrity of such sloppy obedience? "No, it is not," the preacher warns. And the gruesome cycle of devotion, failure, and despair that cripples the gospel goes to the next round, like the wheel of a hamster cage.
And it is precisely when we are frustrated and depressed because of our failure to meet God's high standards that we hear another sermon or read a new article about "real repentance" and "deep repentance" and that such repentance is a complete avoidance of sin.
And so we plunge again with dedication to try to do everything and still end up with the same miserable, predictable results. So frustration and despair continue to increase because we recognize that our departure from sin is anything but "complete".
And we come to the conclusion that we have not "really regretted" that our remorse was not "deep", not "serious" or not "honest" enough. And if we haven't really repented, then we also can't have real faith, which in turn means we don't really have the Holy Spirit within us, which means that we aren't really saved either.
Finally, we come to the point where we get used to living like this, or we throw in the towel, as many have done, and turn completely away from the ineffective medical show that people call «Christianity».
Not to mention the disaster where people actually believe that they have purified their lives and made them acceptable to God - their condition is much worse. Repentance of God simply has nothing to do with a new and improved self.
Repent and believe
"Repent [repent] and believe in the gospel!" Explains Jesus in Mark 1,15. Repentance and faith mark the beginning of our new life in the kingdom of God; they're not doing it because we did the right thing. They mark it because at that point in our lives the scales fall from our darkened eyes and we finally see in Jesus the glorious light of the freedom of the sons of God.
Everything that needed to be done for people to receive forgiveness and salvation has already been done through the death and resurrection of the Son of God. There was a time when this truth was hidden from us. Because we were blind to her, we could not enjoy her and rest in her.
We felt we had to find our way in this world ourselves, and we used all our strength and time to dig a rut in our little corner of life just as we could.
All of our attention was focused on staying alive and securing our future. We worked hard to be respected and respected. We fought for our rights, trying not to be unfairly disadvantaged by anyone or anything. We fought to protect our good reputation and that our family and our habakkuk and property were preserved. We did everything we could to make our life worthwhile, that we were the winners, not the losers.
But as anyone who has ever lived, this was a lost battle. Despite our best efforts, plans and hard work, we can not control our lives. We can not prevent catastrophes and tragedies, nor failures and pains that invade us out of the blue sky and destroy our remnants of somehow patched up hope and joy.
One day, for no other reason than that, that he wanted it to be so, God let us see how things really work. The world belongs to him and we belong to him.
We are dead in sin, there is no way out. We are lost, blind losers in a world of lost, blind losers because we lack the sense to hold the hand of the only one who alone has the way out. But that is all right, because through his crucifixion and resurrection he became the loser for us; and we can become winners with him by uniting with him in his death, so that we can be partners in his resurrection.
In other words, God gave us good news! The good news is that he personally paid the big price for our selfish, unruly, destructive, evil madness. He redeemed us in return, washed us clean and clothed us with righteousness and made us a place at the table of his eternal feast. And by this Gospel Word, he invites us to believe that this is so.
If you can recognize and believe this through the grace of God, then you have repented. To regret, you see, means to say: «Yes! Yes! Yes! I think it! I trust your word! I leave this life of a hamster running in the wheel behind me, this aimless fighting, this death, which I mistakenly thought to be life. I am ready for your rest, help my unbelief! »
Repentance is the change in your way of thinking. It changes your perspective of seeing yourself as the center of the universe so that you now see God as the center of the universe, entrusting your life to His mercy. It means to submit to him. It means that you lay down your crown at the feet of the rightful ruler of the cosmos. It is the most important decision you will ever make.
It's not about morality
Regret is not about morals; it's not about good behavior; it's not about "doing it better".
Repentance means putting your trust in God instead of yourself, neither your reason nor your friends, your country, your government, your pistols, your money, your authority, your prestige, your reputation, your car, your house, Your job, your family heritage, your skin color, your gender, your success, your looks, your clothes, your titles, your degrees, your church, your spouse, your muscles, your leaders, your IQ, your accent, your accomplishments, yours charitable works, your donations, your favors, your pity, your discipline, your chastity, your honesty, your obedience, your devotion, your spiritual disciplines, or anything else that you have to say about what is related to you and I omitted in this long sentence have.
Repentance means "putting everything on one card" - on God's "card". It means going to his side; what he says to believe; to team up with him, to be loyal to him.
Repentance is not about the promise of being good. It is not about "removing sin from his life". But it means to believe that God has mercy on us. It means trusting God to fix our bad heart. It means to believe that God is who he claims to be - creator, savior, redeemer, teacher, lord and saint. And it means to die - to die away from our compulsive thinking of being just and good.
We speak of a love relationship - not that we loved God, but that He loved us (1 John 4,10). He is the original source of all that is, you included, and it has dawned on you that he loves you for who you are - his beloved child in Christ - certainly not because of what you have or what you have done or what your reputation is or what you look like or any other quality that you have, but simply because you are in Christ.
Suddenly nothing is the way it was. The whole world suddenly grew bright. All your failure is no longer important. Everything in Christ's death and resurrection was put in order. Your eternal future is assured, and nothing in heaven or on earth can take away your joy because you belong to God for Christ's sake (Romans 8,1.38-39). You believe him, you trust him, you put your life in his hands; whatever comes, no matter what anyone says or does.
You can forgive generously, exercise patience and be kind, even in losses or losses - you have nothing to lose; because you won absolutely everything in Christ (Ephesians 4,32-5,1-2). The only thing that is important to you is its new creation (Galatians 6,15).
Repentance is not another worn, hollow promise to be a good boy or girl. It means dying off all your great portraits of your own self and putting your weak loser hand in the hand of the man who smoothed the waves of the sea (Galatians 6,3). It means coming to Christ to rest (Matthew 11,28: 30). It means trusting his word of grace.
God's initiative, not ours
To repent is to trust God, to be who he is, and to do what he does. Repentance is not about your good works versus your evil works. God, who is completely free to be who he wants to be, decided in his love for us to forgive our sins.
Let us be absolutely clear about this: God forgives us our sins - all - past, present and future; he does not post them (John 3,17). Jesus died for us when we were still sinners (Romans 5,8). He is the sacrificial lamb and he was slaughtered for us - for each one of us (1 John 2,2).
Repentance, you understand, is not the way to cause God to do something he has already done. Rather, it means believing that he has done - that he has saved your life forever and given you a priceless eternal inheritance - and to believe such makes love for him blossom in you.
"Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us," Jesus taught us to pray. If it dawned on us that God, for his innermost reasons, had simply decided to write off our lives full of selfish arrogance, all of our lies, all of our atrocities, all of our arrogance, our desires, our betrayals and our meanness - all our bad thoughts, deeds and plans - then we have to make a decision. We can praise him and thank him for his indescribable love offering forever, or we can just continue to live according to the motto: «I am a good person; nobody thinks that it is not me »- and continue the life of a hamster running in the wheel, to which we are so attached.
We can believe God or ignore him or run away from him fearfully. If we believe him, we can go our way in joyful friendship with him (he is the sinner friend - all sinner, which includes everyone, even bad people and also our friends). If we don't trust him, if we think he doesn't want to or can't forgive us, then we can't live with him with joy (and therefore not with anyone else, except people who behave the way we want them to). Instead, we will fear him and eventually despise him (as well as anyone else who doesn't stay away from us).
Two sides of the same coin
Faith and regret go hand in hand. When you trust in God, two things happen simultaneously: you realize that you are a sinner who needs God's mercy, and you choose to trust God to save you and save your life. In other words, if you put your trust in God, then you have also repented.
In Acts 2,38, e.g. B., said Peter to the assembled crowd: "Peter said to them: Repent, and each of you will be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." So faith and repentance are part of a package. When he said “repented”, he also referred to “belief” or “trust”.
In the further course of the story, Peter says: "Repent and turn to God ..." This turning to God is at the same time turning away from oneself. It doesn't mean you now
are morally perfect. It means turning away from your personal ambitions to be worthy of Christ and instead putting your faith and hope in His Word, His Good News, in His declaration that His blood is for your salvation, forgiveness, resurrection and blessing eternal heritage flowed.
If you trust God for forgiveness and salvation, then you have repented. Repentance to God is a change in your own way of thinking and influences your entire life. The new way of thinking is the way to trust that God will do what you could not do in a million lifetimes. Repentance is not a change from moral imperfection to moral perfection - you are incapable of doing that.
Corpses do not progress
Due to the fact that you are dead, you are unable to become morally perfect. Sin killed you, as Paul explains in Ephesians 2,4: 5. But although you were dead in your sins (being dead is what you contributed to the process of forgiveness and redemption), Christ has brought you to life (This is what Christ contributed: namely everything).
The only thing the dead can do is they can not do anything. They can not be alive to righteousness or anything else because they are dead, dead in sin. But it is the dead people - and only dead people - who are raised from the dead.
Raise the dead is what Christ does. He does not pour perfume on corpses. He does not support them to put on their party clothes and wait to see if they will do something just. They are dead. They can not do anything. Jesus is not in the least interested in new and improved bodies. What Jesus does is to wake her up. Again, corpses are the only kind of people he raises. In other words, the only way to get into Jesus' resurrection, his life, is to be dead. It does not take much effort to be dead. In fact, no effort is needed at all. And dead is exactly what we are.
The lost sheep could not be found on its own until the shepherd looked after him and found it (Luke 15,1: 7). The lost coin was not found until the woman searched and found it (Vv. 8-10). The only thing they contributed to the process of being searched and found and the big joy party was to be lost. Their utter hopelessness was the only thing they had that would allow them to be found.
Even the prodigal son in the next parable (Vv. 11-24) states that he has already been forgiven, that he was redeemed and fully accepted, simply by the fact of his father's generous grace, not on the basis of his own plan, such as: «I will be mine Work out grace again ». His father felt sorry for him before he heard the first word of his "I'm so sorry" speech (V.20).
When the son finally accepted his state of death and being lost in the stench of a pigsty, he was on his way to discovering something astonishing that had already been true all along: the father he had rejected and disgraced, never had stopped loving him passionately and unconditionally.
His father simply ignored his little self-redemption plan (Vv. 19-24). And even without waiting for a trial period, he reinstated him in his full sons rights. So our totally hopeless state of death is the only one that allows us to be raised. The initiative, the work and the success of the whole operation are the sole responsibility of the shepherd, wife, father - God.
The only thing we contribute to the process of our resurrection is to be dead. This applies to us both spiritually and physically. If we can not accept the fact that we are dead, we can not accept the fact that we were raised from the dead by the grace of God in Christ. Repentance is accepting the fact that one is dead and receives from God his resurrection in Christ.
Repentance, you see, does not mean to produce good and noble works, or that we try to motivate God to forgive us through a few emotional speeches. We are dead. That means there is absolutely nothing we could do to contribute anything to our revival. It is simply a matter of believing the good news of God that he forgives and redeems in Christ and raises the dead through him.
Paul describes this mystery - or paradox, if you like - of our death and resurrection in Christ, in Colossians 3,3: "For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God."
The secret, or paradox, is that we died. Nevertheless, we are alive at the same time. But life, which is glorious, is not yet there: it is hidden with Christ in God, and it will not appear as it really is until Christ himself appears, as verse 4 says: «If Christ, your life , will reveal itself, then you will also be revealed with him in glory. »
Christ is our life. When he appears, we will appear with him, because after all, he is our life. Therefore again: dead bodies cannot do anything for themselves. You cannot change. You cannot "do better". You can't improve. The only thing they can do is be dead.
However, God, who is the source of life himself, has great joy in raising the dead, and he does so in Christ (Romans 6,4). The corpses contribute absolutely nothing to this process, except their state of death.
God does everything. It is his work and only his, from beginning to end. This means that there are two types of risen corpses: those who joyfully receive their salvation, and those who prefer their usual state of death to life, who, as it were, close their eyes and hold their ears and continue to be dead with all their strength want.
Again, repentance is to say yes to the gift of forgiveness and salvation that God says we have in Christ. It has nothing to do with repentance or making promises or sinking into guilt. Yes it is. Repentance is not an endlessly repeating "I'm sorry" or "I promise I will never do it again". We want to be brutally honest. Chances are that you will do it again - if not as a real act, at least in your thoughts, desires, and feelings. Yes, you're sorry, maybe very much at times, and you really don't want to be the kind of person who keeps doing it, but that's not really the heart of regret.
You remember you're dead, and dead people act just like dead people. But if you are dead in sin, you are alive in Christ at the same time (Romans 6,11). But your life in Christ is hidden with him in God, and it does not appear constantly or very often - not yet. It does not reveal what it really is until Christ himself appears.
In the meantime, if you are also alive in Christ, you are still dead in sin for the time being, and the state of your death is as good as ever. And it is precisely this dead self, this self that apparently can not stop behaving like a dead man, that was raised from Christ and brought to life with him in God - to be revealed when revealed.
At this point, faith comes into play. Repent and believe in the gospel. The two aspects belong together. You can not have one without the other. To believe the good news that God has washed you clean with the blood of Christ, that he has healed your death, and made you eternal in his Son, is to repent.
And turning to God in his utter helplessness, forlornness and death, receiving His free salvation and salvation, means having faith - believing the gospel. They represent two sides of the same coin; and it is a coin that God gives you for no other reason - for no other reason - than that he is just and merciful to us.
A behavior, not a measure
Of course, some will say that repentance towards God will show good morals and good behavior. I do not want to argue about that. The problem is rather, we want to measure remorse by the absence or presence of good behavior; and therein lies a tragic misunderstanding of remorse.
The honest truth is that we lack perfect moral values or perfect behavior; and all that is lacking in perfection is not good enough for the kingdom of God anyway.
We want to do without any nonsense, such as: "If your repentance is honest, you will not commit sin again." That is precisely what is not the decisive factor in repentance.
The key to repentance is a changed heart, away from your own self, out of your own corner, no longer wanting to be your own lobbyist, your own media representative, your own union representative and defense lawyer, to the God Trust to stand on your side, to be in his corner, to die to his own ego and to be a beloved child of God, whom he has forgiven and redeemed.
Regret means two things that we do not naturally like. First, it means facing the fact that the song line "Baby, you're not good" (you are no good, baby) describes us perfectly. Second, it means facing up to the fact that we are no better than anyone. We are all in the same line with all the other losers for mercy that we don't deserve.
In other words, regret appears in a humbled spirit. The humbled spirit is one who has no confidence in what he can do; he has no hope left, he has, so to speak, given up his spirit, he has died himself and has placed himself in a basket in front of God's door.
Say yes!" to God's "Yes!"
We have to give up the mistaken belief that repentance is a promise never to sin again. First of all, such a promise is nothing but hot air. Second, it is spiritually meaningless.
God has given you an almighty, thundering, eternal "yes!" proclaimed by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Repentance is your “yes!” Answer to God's “yes!”. It is the turning to God to receive His blessing, His just proclamation of your innocence and salvation in Christ.
To accept one's gift means to admit your state of death and your need for eternal life. It means trusting, believing and holding in your hands all your ego, being, existence - everything you are. It means resting in him and giving him your burdens. Why not enjoy and rest in the rich and spurting grace of our Lord and Redeemer? He redeems the lost. He saves the sinner. He raises the dead.
He stands by our side, and because he exists nothing can stand between him and us - no, not even your miserable sin or that of your neighbor. Trust him. This is good news for us all. He is the Word and he knows what he is talking about!
by J. Michael Feazell