What About Repentance?

Repentance

It is nearly impossible to listen to the daily news without hearing about another shooting, terrorist attack, riot or other civil upheaval.  Those promoting and participating in these activities feel completely justified in their actions.  Are they?

Is it ok to protest and let your voice be heard?  Sure and it is even a good thing.  However, when that protest turns violent it transitions into a riot and that is completely wrong on many levels.  It is wrong to attack police.  It is wrong to attack innocent people.  It is wrong to burn businesses and destroy the economy of a city.

How can these actions be justified?  How can there be reconciliation and healing after these events?

The answer can be found in an old term that doesn’t get much use these days.  Yes, the word is Repentance.

This term is primarily reserved for religious circles in our culture.  The Bible is clear that repentance is needed to make peace with God.

What would happen if the term repentance was understood and used throughout our society?  It would be a shock to anyone’s ears to have the mainstream media call for repentance.  However, if they did, it may usher in a new season of healing and restoration.  Think how powerful it would be if those doing wrong would repent!

What would happen if this term was commonplace in schools?  What would happen if the drug dealers, gangs and bullies at school repented?  We could see a decrease in school shootings, suicide and drug use.

What would happen if repentance was practiced in families?  Would there be less divorce?  Would there be healing and restoration?  Yes, the effects of repentance would be profound in family settings.

There are three critical aspects of repentance that we must understand.

First, it is impossible to repent if you don’t acknowledge your sins.  In other words, we need to take responsibility for our actions by admitting to them and that they were wrong.   Confession is the primary biblical way to acknowledge sin or wrongdoing.

Too many times we try to Justify, rationalize, blame or explain away our sins rather than take responsibility for them. 

If there is no acknowledgement of sin or wrongdoing there is no true repentance.  If there is no true repentance there can be no healing and restoration.  Sure, some may fake it, but underneath there will always be distrust and unresolved issues.

Second, repentance is a heart issue.  Scripture says, out of the abundance of the heart a man speaks.  If we are unwilling to repent there is a heart problem.

The Greek word used in Luke 3 for repentance is “metanoia” and it means a change of mind or reversal of a previous decision.   Repentance is a complete change of heart.  It involves the mind, the emotions and the will.  When we repent there is an intellectual understanding of our wrong actions.  There is an emotional response of remorse, guilt and sorrow.  There is a choice and action that must come from the will.  What we must understand is that repentance is a heartfelt, thought out, decision to change directions because we were wrong

Repentance means to turn away from and to turn to.  When we want to find peace with God we must turn from our sins and turn to the Lord Jesus.  When we want to be right with each other we must turn away from the things that damage relationships and turn to the things which build relationships.

Third, real repentance has fruit.  When we repent of our sins and turn to the Lord Jesus there is a change in behavior and lifestyle.  If there is no outward evidence of repentance it is doubtful that salvation has occurred.  God desires a relationship not a 5 minute prayer that we don’t really mean.

If we have done things to hurt others we need to repent before there can be healing and restoration.  Yes, this includes acknowledging our wrongs, but it also includes a change in behavior.  Expecting restoration with someone while attacking,  encouraging or allowing harm to another is an unrealistic expectation.

Remember, forgiveness does not always lead to restoration.  It is possible to forgive without willingly entering back into a situation where there will be ongoing harm.

What would our culture, our schools, our workplaces and families be like if there were true repentance?

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