Truth, Lies, & Twitter - Part IV
He said to His disciples, “Offenses will certainly come, but woe to the one they come through! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3 Be on your guard. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and comes back to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” (Luke 17:1-4)
We have one word left to dive into from our dive into Christian Twitter, and just last night I had it thrown at me a few times again. It’s a word that is at the heart of the Gospel message, but one that is so casually misused that I wonder if we have truly lost sight of what it means. This word is Repent.
It's interesting when looking at the definitions for this word because even out of a dictionary, we see two different Theological concepts involved. First, we see that the dictionary acknowledges that repentance is necessary as a result of SIN, not just wrongdoing. Second, repentance requires an amendment, an intentional change for correction, to one’s life. This is more than just saying sorry or asking forgiveness, but is about taking the actions necessary to make sure that you don’t do this again.
In Greek, we see metanoeó: to change one's mind or purpose. This takes us to another lever beyond Webster. The changing of a person’s mind or purpose is even more involved than just amending your life choices. This takes something more powerful than ourselves. Luckily, Scripture tells us how this can happen.
Romans 12:2 talks about the need for a “renewing of our mind” to prevent us from “conforming to the world.” Paul continues talking about how the Spirit is the one that does, and that the signs of the Spirit doing this is in the Gifts that are given to us, and in the way that we are using them. This Spirit that is doing this is the same Spirit Jesus tells us is the Spirit of Truth. So what does this mean? That repentance comes from an acknowledgment of the Truth and an embracing of that Truth in our lives. To put it another way, the embracing of Christ as the Lord of our lives, and allowing Him to correct the lies we used to embrace. This is the basic message of the Gospel, and so the call to repentance is essential for us in the Church to both understand, and use accordingly. The other piece of repentance that is important to understand is why we are doing it in the first place.
Repentance comes from a person's acknowledgment of sin against God or others.
If we are talking about a personal amending or renewing of one's life, mind, and purpose, then the process must begin with a personal understanding that the current state needs to be changed. The key piece of this is the word personal. Repentance begins as a personal acknowledgment of sin in our lives, and it cannot come about by the will of other people. Even when we talk about corporate or cultural repentance (racism, abortion, idolatry, etc), it must start with the individuals acknowledging the need for it (Daniel 9).
2. Repentance is about reconciliation and not freedom from shame or
Another piece to this, and in my opinion the one that is most often misunderstood, is that the goal of repentance is reconciliation, not alleviating shame or guilt. The alleviation of shame and guilt comes from forgiveness which is separate from the act of repentance. Repentance is about returning to a place where the relationship can begin again. If your reason for repenting is just to feel better about yourself, then you are not interested in the life and purpose changes that come from a renewal of the mind, through the Spirit of Truth.
3. Salvation is a one-time event, Repentance is a daily event.
This season we are in is when we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus. This event secured our Salvation for us, and so we can be confident that when we first take this step of repentance, our Salvation is secure (Romans 6, Romans 8, I Cor 15). Salvation is a one-time event, but the act of repentance is a daily renewal of our mind and our purpose. We must continually be willing to go before God in a humble state ready to lay our lies at the foot of the cross and allow for God to continue the process of sanctifying us in His Truth (John 17:17).