Is real authentic Repentance working in you?
Principle Scriptures on Repentance: Ezekiel 18:30-32; Isaiah 22:12; Jeremiah 6:16-18; 7:3-11; 26:3; Hosea 6:1;14:1-3; Matthew 3:1-2; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 3:19; 8:22-23; 20:176-21; Romans 2:4; 3:9-4:8; 2 Corinthians 7:8-12; James 4: 7-10; 1 John 1:9; Revelation 2:5, 16; 3:2-3, 19-20.
Here is how you can find out. Take a careful look at this Discipline of Repentance from God's most precious Word by examining your life and the passages above. Now ask yourself:
- How do I exhibit a life of repentance in my daily life now?
- How can I develop the willingness to be a more disciplined person who will repent to God?
- What blocks repentance from working and being exhibited in me?
- How can I initiate repentance, and discipline myself to carry it out?
- What can I do to make repentance function better, stronger, and faster, even in times of uncertainty and stress?
· Here are positive examples from Scripture: Gen. 27:30-46; Psalm 32:5; 51; Mark 6:12; Matt. 9:13; 27:3; Luke 3:8; Acts 19:18-20; 26:2
· Here are negative examples from Scripture: Gen. 42:21; Ex. 9:27; 2 Chron. 28:9-11; Prov. 1:22; 30:20; Isa. 3:9; Matt. 23:33
Repentance is both a "summons" to seek Him first and a "summery" of the Gospel's impact and "regeneration" upon us so we make a life change in Christ. The discipline aspect of repentance is the result and application (not the cause) of the fruit from our salvation and renewal that we do our part with and by our faith. We see this exhibited when we are remorseful for our sins and seek to turn around to God. It requires us to employ our faith and repent which means to embrace the liberation, empowerment, and abundance we have in Christ by completely and utterly turning away from our sin (as in our wrong desires and deeds), and then move toward His love and plan. We do this when we come to faith in Christ, but it does not just stop there; we have to be continually alert as to what sins that will detract us from His path!
What happens when we do not practice this Discipline? We are choosing not to serve the Lord. This will significantly cost us in the loss of abiding peace and a life without the abundance of Christ will result in a loss of His penetrating love and care. We will lose out on so much more too, such as hope and faith, and a life that produces goodness, fruit, and that impacts others positively. We will not even have access to God's governance and guidance so that when the tough times of life come our way, we will be alone, tossed about by the seas of life and stress with only our feeble pride to anchor us; and it will only serve to sink us. Our real repentance will show the manifestation and fruit of His ways. If not, something is very wrong.
God calls us to authentic repentance and empowers us to do so (Acts 5:31; Rom. 2:4; 2 Tim. 2:25-26). This means we lift up our will, and surrender it to His Lordship. He is our God and commander, the One who first loved and cared for us. Thus, we should desire to order our life to reflect His guidance when we first come to Him, and then desire to lead a life that glorifies Him. Then, when we do wrong, we will realize it from the law written on our hearts and revealed in His Word. We will feel remorse and guilt (2 Cor. 7:10-11)! Thus, we will turn to Him, and seek others to help us in doing so. The proof that this has worked, that our repentance is genuine, is that we will express sincere grief for our sins! Real, authentic repentance is also heartfelt and earnest; we will not just regret our past behaviors, but we will be alert in our future behaviors and relationships so that a moral and lifestyle change will result. If you feel this is overwhelming, or you do not have the time or "gifts," consider this: it is God's desire that we, as Christians, repent of our sins and come to His way-- first and continually! This call requires our diligent action as well as commitment so it is a "discipline," and so it will become a lifestyle.
How Do I Practice this Discipline of Repentance?
Do not accept the "worldliness" of the world; rather, make the choice to dedicate yourself and your mindset over to glorifying your Lord by modeling maturity and character as you are empowered by Him. This will help you flee the world's influence and people's manipulation, and rather become an influencer. You can also flee the devil's influence by being on guard of his tricks and trade. This means being committed to God and surrender to His ways first. You may be thinking that only the weak and cowardly would surrender themselves-even to God. However, the fact is, only a coward would refuse to allow ultimate greatness in himself or herself that can only be achieved by yielding totally to Christ. He is to be greater than anything else in our lives (John 3:30)!
We need to fully realize that repentance is serious business, as we all need to repent. It is central to being a Christian, essential to being saved, and crucial to keeping us on His path once we are saved. No one is outside or above this need! So, take an honest assessment of your ways, your innermost thoughts, desires, and attitudes, and ask Christ if they line up to His precepts and call. Since we all fall short, in humility, confess it to Him. That is what we do!
This is not just a one-time deal. Repentance and conversion are two different things (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30; 20:21). Repentance is our response to who and what Christ did on the cross. Conversion is our salvation, given to us through His grace (Eph. 2:8-9). It is not by our efforts, but by the Holy Spirit. Repentance means we repetitively seek to lead a life that pleases Him. They all go together as responses to His grace as the Spirit gives us salvation, and we take action by turning from sin and turning to God. The result is a changed life! Then, to start this Discipline of Repentance, take it slow. Once a week, take the time to examine your life fully through prayer and in thought to see if there is any wayward way in you. Do this with prayer with honest self-examination before God. Ask Him, how much of my life is under Your domain and control? Where do I fail in my judgments? Then, take the personal responsibility to work this out. When you have setbacks (and we all do), be committed to restart and continue. I have found the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-17), as well as the Fruit of the Spirit vs. the flesh (Gal. 5: 16-26), are excellent templates to use for self examination.
True repentance requires that if you are in any sin, such as an adulterous association, you must stop it now (Matt. 19:11-12)! No excuses, no buts, no bargaining, no rationalizing-just stop it! If you have found yourself in any tempting or possible sinful treacherous association, stop it! The phrase turn or burn has a much deeper connotation than you may realize; your burn will be all that you could have had, all gone because of your sin.
Remember, He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows our evil desires, our ways of manipulation and our corrupt agendas. So, give it to Him, all of it! Things we have left undone and things we should have done-all of it! Be honest, as honesty helps pave the road to change and growth.
What Happens When We Practice this Discipline of Repentance?
Repentance, when confessed, will show actual changes in the core of whom we are-that His way impacts our deeds, attitudes, and behaviors! This change of turning from sin to God should allow us to feel the sorrow of the hurt we caused, not only to ourselves, but also to the people around us, and even God.
· Repentance, when actualized, will cause us to feel authentic hatred for sin (Psalm 119:128; Job 42:5, 6; 2 Cor. 7:10).
· Discipline of Repentance will facilitate our Humility (Proverbs 3:34) and then Christ Himself will lift you up. Honor and exaltation belong to God alone. With humility, we will realize our need for Christ, our need to keep no secrets, as there could be none from Him, so why not confess.
· Our attitude and whom we are become new and changed in Christ. Thus, to lead our lives the way we were is worthless and even evil. Repentance is essential before effective Christian character, maturity, and spiritual growth can be possible (Chron. 7:14-15; Prov. 3:34; 25:6-7; Isa. 2:11-12; 5:15; Matt. Mt 18:4; 23:12 Luke 11:43; 14:11; 18:14; 20:46; 1 Pet. 5:62).
· The Discipline of Repentance is essential and must be a persistent endeavor to walk a holy life God's way. This means we trust and obey His commandments. Your church may not teach this, and perhaps your friends and family have even laughed at it, but its need has never been more necessary.
· The Discipline of Repentance helps us understand our guilt, sinfulness (Psalm 51:4, 9), and helplessness (Psalm 51:11; 109:21, 22) and apprehend God's forgiveness and mercy; then, we can give it to others too (Psalm 51:1; 130:4).
· How we respond to life and other people will be rooted in how we respond to God. Do we fight Him or do we glorify Him? How do we know? The answer is in how we are with our wiliness to repent, to be humble, and release our pride so we want to repent to draw closer to our Lord and be better with others, too. How we fight with and manipulate others will show how our attitude is with God. Repentance will be a significant factor in our attitudes and mindsets; are we humble or proud?
· If you are a Christian and have strayed from His path in small ways or big ways, stop and repent. Jesus is calling you back to His love. He asks you to remember who you are in Him and Who He is, to hold on to Him and to dwell in Him.
· Repentance means we do not trust our church or ancestry for salvation. This means the same as being reared as a Christian will not make you a Christian. You must profess faith and repentance on your own!
· Repentance is essential! It is a result of Jesus' call and ministry in our lives and His teaching (Matt. 4:17; 9:13; 10:7; 11:20; 12:41; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 2: 38; 3:4. 19; 17:30; 20:20-21; 26:19-20)!
· If we do not understand what it means to repent, we cannot be His disciples! The Great Commission (Matt 28; Acts 8:12; 14:22; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23) centers upon repentance as a precursor to being a disciple!
· Repentance does not save us; repentance is only the realization of our salvation. We must place our focus on the cause (Christ) not the effect (What we will do), because the effect will flow from a natural desire and create growth and maturity.
· We are right with God because of Christ-not because of our faith and obedience. However, faith and obedience are the fruits and proof. Thus, salvation is not logic or knowledge (2 Cor. 5:17-19), optimism or wishful thinking, but the fact of the love of God.
· Repentance is not just sorrow or regret for what we have done or even the desire to change our minds. Rather, it is the changing of all we are-our goals, aspirations, values, and behaviors-so that we turn a complete 180 degrees from the way we were (2 Cor. 7:9-10). Repentance is a life that really has been changed!
· Our Christian formation and/or our profession of our faith means that a change has occurred in us by the way of repentance! We cannot have salvation without repentance. Grace is free, but grace cannot come into a heart where it is not welcome, or when we are being unrepentant, for we will not welcome His grace!
· It does not matter if you have made mistakes, made bad decisions, even divorced or had an abortion; yes, there is hope in our Lord. He forgives (1 Cor. 6:7-11; 1 John 1:9)!
· We will be submitting to the sovereignty of God. Thus, God's plan for our lives will come to fruition, which is far better than any desire, whether evil or good, we could ever have. Thus, it is logical and beneficial to be humble in Him (1 Pet. 5:5)!
· It all comes down to our trusting in Jesus, as not just our Savior, but also as our Lord. We trust that He has better ways and plans than and strategy we could ever devise. Therefore, we can repent, and discipline ourselves to lead a life of repentance. Why do we trust Him? Because He is good and because His ways are better!
· God is calling us to think back to what the Lord has done for us, so we do not forget His grace, His provisions, and His answered prayers and blessings. We are not to allow the struggles of the moment to overcome us to the point that we cannot see how He has brought us through them in the past. Repentance helps us to "refresh" our memory in Him.
· If we do not understand what it means to repent, and if we do not practice this discipline, we will then miss the centrality of the gospel message!
If you have read any of the passages I have cited, you cannot help but see the fact that God wants us to repent and do it now. God tells us in His Word both what to do and what not to do, which, when followed, will lead to a victorious, transformed life in Him. God wants us to lead a triumphant life and in so doing, He wants us to make the fervent attempt to repent, because this helps us get right with Him and then everything else in our lives line up with purpose and distinction. If we lead a double life by trying to serve two contradictory paths in life, we will fail; such doing is contradictory to the Christian's faith and testimony. It causes us to be hypocritical as we scatter broken relationships, shattered lives, and unmet opportunities in our wake. It leaves us in the despair of a soul at war as the ways of pride and the world infest us, keeping us imprisoned in helplessness and in despair when we can see it, and discontent and meaningless when we cannot. Our ways of pride have no hope or purpose other than to turn away from what God has and wants to give to us. We already have joy and completeness in Christ when our hearts and minds center on Him. Therefore, the bottom line of these passages is the call to submit and surrender to God, allowing Him to be our only Lord, lead, and direction. Then, He will lift us up beyond our greatest desires and plans to a much greater plan and purpose in life!
1. How would you define The Discipline of Repentance? Are you a person who desires a lifestyle that identifies you as a Christian? If not, why not?
2. What part does repentance play in your relationships with church members, friends, coworkers, and family? If you see yourself stumble, do you first repent, tell someone, or what? What should you do?
3. How does the refusal to repent counteract God's call? What is the cost to the Kingdom of God when Christians refuse to repent?
4. What happens when your church does not engage in repentance or teach and encourage its people to be people who repent?
5. What happens to your relationship with God, with others, and with the opportunities God gives you when you refuse to repent?
6. When have you exercised repentance the most? Who reigns over you? Is it Christ or your agendas? What does one's will have to do with the ability to repent?
7. In what situation did you fail to engage in repentance when you should have? What is the cost you have paid or could pay by not repenting?
8. What can you do to stop combating with God, stop fighting within yourself, and stop hostility with others? So, what will you do?
9. How does humility produce right attitudes and motives? What would real, authentic repentance look like in your life?
10. What issue is in your life that would improve with more repentance?
11. Take the time to really, fully examine your life to see if there is any wayward way in you. How much of your life is under Christ's domain and control? Is Christ your all in all, your authority and LORD? If not, what is?
12. Think through the steps that you need to take to put repentance into action in a specific instance. For example, what can you do to make sure that you repent when you find yourself distracted from God's path? What about making restitution? What will you do and when will you do it so you can use this Discipline of Repentance to improve your life and relationship with Christ and others? Take the personal responsibility to work this out!
Real repentance will entail full, genuine confession, restitution, and the will to turn to Christ, not just as Savior, but also as Lord. This is not just a one-time deed, but also a lifestyle that places Christ first and foremost in our daily lives.
Additional Scriptures on the Discipline of Confession and Repentance: 2 Chronicles 7:14; 30:6-9; Psalm 34:14, 18; Isaiah 22:12; Jeremiah 7:3-8; Matthew 4:17; 6:33; 23:12; John 20:23; Acts 17:30; 20: 17-21; 24:14; Romans 2:4; 3:9-4:8; 2 Corinthians 7:8-12; Ephesians 4:13; Philippians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:6, 8; 2 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 4:19
For more Disciplines see our sister site www.discipleshiptools.org/
© 2006, R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org/