The Forgotten Word

Consider the following handful of verses (all from the New King James Version):

-“I listened and heard, but they do not speak aright. No man repented of his wickedness, saying, ‘What have I done?’ Everyone turned to his own course, as the horse rushes into the battle.” (Jeremiah 8:6)

-In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:1-2)

-From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)

-“I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3,5)

-“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent.” Revelation 2:5

The word “repent” is a forgotten word in our culture. This holds true even in Christian circles. We hear much about mercy, grace, love, forgiveness, longsuffering, and patience, but not much about repentance. This has turned our preaching and teaching into a vanilla batch of mush and gush wherein everybody is okay and no one needs to make any real changes in conduct.

The word “repent” translates the Greek word metanoeo. Greek scholars tell us the word literally means “a change of mind.” Thus, we might say that true repentance is a changing of the mind that leads to a changing of the conduct. Getting the conduct right begins with getting the thinking right.

In the matter of sinners, the Bible uses the word “repent” in two ways. First, it inseparably links repentance with saving faith in Christ. The idea is that genuine faith in Christ MUST be laced with genuine repentance. You don’t repent, place your faith in Jesus, and then get saved. Instead, the faith that saves oozes repentance. A wonderful passage that shows how repentance and faith walk hand in hand is Acts 20:20-21, where Paul says to the Ephesian elders,

“…I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Second, the Bible uses the word “repent” in a general way that calls Christians and non-Christians alike to turn from their sins and go in an opposite direction, a direction of holiness. A good verse here would be Luke 3:8, the first part of which says,

“Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance.”

And so, in light of all this, I want to close by asking you a very simple question: Have you thoroughly repented of your personal “pet sin”? If you haven’t, then consider this God’s way of looking right at you and saying, “It’s time that you DID!” Repentance can never come too soon, but it may come too late. Don’t let that happen to you.

This entry was posted in Backsliding, Belief, Doing Good, Faith, Holiness, Personal Holiness, Preaching, Repentance, Salvation, Sin and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Forgotten Word

  1. ncrministries says:

    Good Word Brother! Thank you for taking time to give a good and challenging word!

    I would add something I did not see for many years when studying repentance. The Greek word metanoia is a compound word. It is made up of two Greek words. One means to perceive and the other means afterwards or along with. The true meaning of the word is to have a drastic change of perception after we find out something or in consideration of something. A very accurate definition of the word is that we must perceive everything differently after the coming of Christ and after the Cross. We must see everything through the Cross and what took place there. This is what Paul meant when he said that we must bring every thought captive to Christ’s obedience. He did not say make all your thoughts obey God, as some new versions mistranslate. He said that we have to bring all our thoughts captive to what Jesus did in obedience to the Father. That is where true salvation is found!

    Part of true repentance, metanoia, is to recognize that all of those who were doing all that they could to obey God’s commandments needed to “repent” just as much, if not more, than the “sinners.” True New Covenant repentance is not stopping sin for God. Saul of Tarsus said that he was perfect according to the Law and that his zeal for God was beyond all others. Yet, he had to repent to be saved. He had to perceive everything differently through the Cross. He had to believe what God had done with sin when He nailed it to the Cross. He had to reject his own life and lay hold of the Life of the last Adam. His repentance involved counting all his religious efforts to be good for God as dung and truly believing in what God did through Christ Jesus. It certainly lead to true holiness and purity because true faith brings true deliverance. True repentance involves a constant rejection of our own Adamic life and a constant reaching to lay hold of the eternal Life that the Father sent down out of Heaven, which is Christ, the Last Adam.

    Of course, I don’t say this to discount what you are saying in any way. True repentance will certainly lead to a drastic change in behavior and deliver us from sin. I just wanted to add this because some may read this who have tried to stop sinning for God and they are losing hope because it is a futile attempt that no one can truly accomplish. It is not really what we do that makes us sinful. It is what we are. We are self-centered, self-seeking, self-preserving, self-advancing creatures that are evil by nature. Religion does not change that. It actually makes it worse. We just start using God to advance and preserve ourselves while judging others who don’t make the same efforts we do. That is why Christ had to put our life to death. True salvation does not come from our effort to change. It comes from genuine faith in what He actually did through the Cross.

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