Nowadays, you hear a lot about repentance. America needs to repent. France needs to repent. The world needs to repent. Why?
Judgment is on the way.
The last time I checked, Gospel means too-good-to-be-true-news. There’s nothing too-good-to-be-true about impending judgment.
Man, that’s doom and gloom.
I think many — if not most — Christians have been taught incorrectly regarding repentance. Today, I’d like to take a stab at clearing this up. Let’s take a look at our core text:
(Mark 1:14-15 ESV) 14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.
First of all, Jesus began His ministry by proclaiming the Gospel. Just to get you caught-up, the Gospel is the too-good-to-be-true-news of God’s Kingdom, which is powered by His unconditional Love and Grace.
So, here we find Jesus calling for repentance. What is He asking for? Now if you ask the M1-A1 saint steeped in religious Christianity, they’re likely to tell you it means “confess your sins.”
The Greek word for repentance is:
g3340. metanoe?; from 3326 and 3539; to think differently or afterwards, i. e. reconsider (morally, feel compunction):— repent.
AV (34)- repent 34; to change one’s mind, i. e. to repent to change one’s mind for better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins
Did you catch that? “To think differently…” “To change one’s mind…”
This is true repentance.
Confession of sin happens once in the life of a believer — at the new birth. In order to be saved you must recognize you are dying. The recognition is the confession you are a sinner in need of a savior.
Watch this: you only confess that you are a sinner. God knows your heart even before you are born again and you, frankly, don’t have the time to confess them all.
Once you’re born-again, you confess ONLY what God says about you! That you are righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21). That you are holy (John 17:17-19, Hebrews 10:10). That you are delivered (2 Corinthians 1:10). That you are healed (1 Peter 2:24). That you are prospered (2 Corinthians 9:8, 3 John 1:2).
While we’re here, true humility is agreeing with what God has said about us! It is not self-abasement or self-deprecation!
Of course, detractors of this message will quickly run to James 5:16 and say we have to confess our sins. Nope, we have to confess our faults, which is an entirely different matter. Here’s the difference: if I tell you I have an anger management issue, that’s a fault I confess to you so you can pray this doesn’t overcome me. If I tell you that my anger management issue caused me to punch someone in the face, now I’ve confessed an actual sin to me and you have something to lord over me.
Step two for the detractors is 1 John 1:9-10, which says:
(1 John 1:9-10 ESV) 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Here John is speaking of the need to confess sin to be born again. John was speaking to a group of folks who believed there was no need to admit one is a sinner before being saved.
All have sinned, that’s a true statement. Indeed, all sin! But not all are sinners!
A sinner is someone who habitually, deliberately, sets out to sin. They do it because it’s their nature. Painters paint, bakers bake, and mechanics repair.
When a saint sins, he or she is convicted by the Holy Spirit of their righteousness, not their sin. It is the consciousness of righteousness that leads to repentance. And that repentance leads to a change of mind which leads to a change in action.
We will only do as well as we’re taught. If we’re taught that we have to confess every sin, we become sin-conscious and, thus, sin more. If we allow the Holy Spirit to teach us all things (John 14:26) he will tell us that we are righteous and holy and better than the sin we stumbled into.
I have to stop and say something here — we can pray for our nation. However, we cannot repent for our nation. Our nation is a collective of individuals and each one must come to repentance individually. If the Body of Christ in this country, alone, would shift their mindset from sin-consciousness to righteousness consciousness, a whole lot of what happens in America, wouldn’t.
Here’s the final play: If we are dead to sin, how can we be conscious of it. If God tells us that we are to have no more consciousness of sins (Hebrews 10:2) and that He will remember our sins no more (Hebrews 8:12, 10:17), doesn’t that mean if we think about them and bring them back up to Him that we are operating in disobedience? You can say “amen” or you can say “ouch.”
© 2015 – Derrick Day (www.derrickday.com)