Coming up in January, I am speaking on one of our Discipleship Training Schools for a week on the topic of Repentance and Forgiveness. I was thinking of this today, and remembering how the whole topic of true repentance was a new one for me when I joined Youth With A Mission.
In my mind at that time:
asking God for forgiveness = repentance
I – perhaps like many other Christians- would ask God to forgive me for the same sins over and over and over. I wondered why I could never see lasting change over recurring sins in my life such as jealousy, or selfishness. I wanted to. I prayed to do so. I tried many things I could think of to make it so. Yet true transformation seemed to elude me.
In hearing and understanding what true repentance is, I learned how to apply that process in my life and begin to see real change in attitudes, beliefs and actions.
This isn’t a comprehensive teaching but a few key points are below:
- I learned that the Greek word used for our English word repentance is “metanoia” which means a change in our thinking. Like the U turn sign up above – it means to turn 180°.
- God is worthy of my repentance. Of a life lived fully for Him, without sin. I actively take sides against myself as it were, and ask Him to do whatever He needs to do to see this sin dealt with, to see a greater consecration and purity come to my life.
- Accountability to others is key to this process. Many times I have heard the statement “It’s a personal sin, so I don’t need to tell anyone”. Yet the Old Testament sacrifices for sin were very public. A person would bring their sin offering to the temple, dragging some sheep or goat through the city. ( If you have ever tried to lead an untrained sheep or goat anywhere – you know this is not a quiet process.) They had to tell the priest what the sacrifice was for and lay their hands on it. Jesus as well had a very public display of his dealing with sin. James hit the nail on the head when he encourages us to “…confess our sins to each other…” James 5:16. This breaks the power of that sin. It no longer has any hold over us.
- Christ is the one who helps me with my sin. In my own strength, I do not get very far. I hand over to Him my sin, ask His forgiveness and repent of it. I pray, I am accountable, I do whatever I feel God is asking of me , but also- I depend on the power of Christ to help accomplish what I alone cannot do.
- The deeper the repentance, the greater the freedom.
Repentance is a gift. Oh – let me get rid of the sin that so easily entangles and consumes my inner world, to give more room for the dwelling of Christ in my life.
“The greatness of the man’s power is the measure of his surrender.”