The first thing I would like to say is repentance is a gift from God. Most of the times when I ask people to tell me what repentance is they will say, “Forgiveness” or maybe they will say, “to turn away.” If you look up the definition in a Strong’s Concordance you will find the Hebrew definition to read “to be sorry.” If you look in the Greek you will find it means “to change one’s mind.” I tend to use the Greek definition because I know if we change our mind about something, especially if it is sin, we will be sorry for it. I read a definition recently I think sums up repentance pretty well. “Repentance is a change of heart (mind) that leads to change of life and behavior.”
Romans 2:4b tells us “The goodness of God leads us to repentance.” According to this it is because of how good God is we are lead to changed minds. In Acts 5 and 11 we find statements that God gives or grants repentance. We like to think we can change our minds anytime we want to, but this kind of mind change is granted, or given, to us from God. Wow! In fact in 2 Timothy we read where Paul instructs Timothy to “instruct others that oppose themselves so God might give them repentance (a changed mind) to the acknowledging of the truth; and they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, which are taken captive by him at his will.” One of the devils greatest weapons is to keep us from repentance (having our minds changed). He attempts to keep us, as some would say, hardheaded.
It seems there are plenty of people who will say something like this “I’m sorry. I’ll never do it again, I promise” only to turn around, in a very short while, and do it all over again. This is what Paul called worldly sorrow or repentance. Godly sorrow leads to changed behavior, a changed lifestyle not just a momentary change. Worldly sorrow or repentance is the kind that is only until the storm blows over. Godly sorrow leads to a complete change of perspective on things. One person might say, “I’m never going to drink again, I’m finished.” Once they get passed the sickness, or conflict the drinking caused, they will be back at it again. This is worldly sorrow. Godly sorrow is different; it finally sees the damage the drinking does and realizes this is not working the way I want it to. Every time I do this behavior I get these results therefore I am going to stop doing this. One definition of insanity is “Doing something over and over again expecting a different result.” It seems most of us have to do it over and over again for a while before we become aware of the pattern and change our minds.
I will leave you with one biblical example of what repentance does. Ephesians 4:28 tells us “He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.” This is not only changing your mind it is changing your behavior. This person isn’t just going to stop stealing he is going to stop stealing and go to work in order to give to others. This is what the Bible calls bearing fruit in keeping with repentance.
Written by Louie
Sometimes it takes pain or misfortune to wake us. Isn’t it a shame that as long as things are going well most people don’t think of God? I couldn’t count the number of times someone has told me how jail or prison has saved their life or how they tend to draw near to God while they are incarcerated. I know people think “that’s jail house religion” and some of it is. The thing about it is I see the same thing happening with people even though they aren’t in jail. There are plenty of times when people seek God when things get tough only to disappear from the scene as soon as the crisis has blown over. How is that any different than “jail house” religion?
Seeing changes in people’s lives is the only real way to know if they are serious with God or not. Jesus told us we will know them by their fruit. It is the life change and not what people say that truly matters. Paul shared something like this with the Corinthians. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians we read about a man who was having an affair with his father’s wife. Paul told them to discipline the man by expelling him from the church. He said, “I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” While this may sound harsh apparently it was the only way for this man to see the err of his ways. This decision was meant to cause this man to repent, or change his way of thinking, so he might be restored into the fellowship of the church. Restoration is the goal not excommunication.
Looking in the seventh chapter of the second letter Paul wrote to the Corinthians we see the result of this discipline. Paul wrote them “For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it—for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while—I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.” He goes on to say this sorrow produced in them the desire to vindicate themselves and to prove themselves innocent in the matter. Sometimes it takes drastic measures before we will do what is required to correct what we have done wrong. It may take a little embarrassment or pain to push us in the right direction. Most of the time it will take a little discomfort along the way which is what the delivering over to Satan for the flesh to be destroyed is all about. From God’s view he’s looking for a change in us, and if pain is the path then so be it.
There are a countless number of people who are only sorry they were caught. Then there are a few that have finally gotten to a place of Godly sorrow; a sorrow that says I not only don’t like that I was caught doing “that” I am sorry I did it at all. I can’t seem to stop this crazy merry-go-round of bad behavior, and I need Jesus. For me I finally came to the place where I didn’t care if anyone came with me or not I had to get things right with God. Once I came with that kind of intention things changed. Once I admitted I could not manage my life and God was going to have to do it everything transformed.
Written by Louie